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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

The Anti-Climax - Coroner's Contradictions - and Death Threats

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
June 30, 2008

LAS VEGAS - On Wednesday, June 26, Federal Judge Philip Pro ruled that the infamous Crazy Horse Too strip club will permanently lose its adult use zoning at midnight, Monday, June 30.

During four hours of arguments on Tuesday, June 24, the bar's former owner Rick Rizzolo (Las Vegas Review-Journal file photo by Clint Karlson) sat silently at the plaintiff's table next to his attorney Mark Hafer. Judge Pro could not help but notice that both men were chewing gum throughout the hearing.

In the courtroom audience were Rizzolo's father Bart, and son Dominic flanked by outrageously expensive attorneys representing the family's hidden financial interests.

Judge Pro allowed attorneys for Rizzolo, beating victim Kirk Henry, the government, and the city to take all the time they needed to try to make their cases.

In his final order issued on Thursday, June 26, a ruling that can only be described as the biggest anti-climax in our city's legal history, Judge Pro ruled that there was no legal basis to order US Marshals to re-open and run the topless bar as Rizzolo had suggested, and that there was no legal basis to usurp the city's zoning laws and let the adult use zoning stand until the bar could be sold. The city's zoning law allows a grandfathered adult use business to remain dark for a total of twelve months, then its zoning reverts to a lesser use. In the Crazy Horse case, the bar closed on June 30, 2007, and never reopened.
Full docket text for document 223:
ORDER Denying [198] Motion to stay the Expiration of the Exotic Dance use permit and Tavern License for the Crazy Horse Too; as to Power Company, Inc. (1), Frederick John Rizzolo (2). Signed by Judge Philip M. Pro on 6/26/08. 

So, this Tuesday, July 1, at 12:01 AM, the property located at 2476 Industrial Road will permanently revert to warehouse use only.

Judge Pro ruled: "...the United States has not persuaded the Court that when Congress enacted Section 1963(e), it contemplated it was empowering federal courts to order a state or local government to continue licenses that otherwise would expire or be revoked under the circumstances presented here. Zoning and licensing are matters particularly within the local power of states and municipalities, and federal courts routinely defer to that authority."

Judge Pro went on to rule: "No constitutional issue is present here to warrant federal intrusion. The absence of constitutional violations weakens the federal interest compared to the City's strong local interest in zoning, and licensing the sale of liquor or issuing exotic dance permits."

Then Judge Pro wrote: "The Court does not take lightly the interest of ensuring the sale of the forfeited Property by the United States generates sufficient funds to satisfy Defendants’ restitution obligations under the Plea Agreements. Defendants’ restitution obligations are particularly important to Kirk and Amy Henry. The circumstances that brought the Henrys into this case as potential beneficiaries under the Plea Agreements are tragic and undoubtedly have motivated the efforts of the United States to maintain the value of the Crazy Horse Too. Indeed, throughout proceedings relating to the forfeited Property over the past two years, every interested party has expressed a desire to see fulfilled the results anticipated for the Henrys under the Plea Agreements."

"The Court acknowledges the Henrys’ compelling circumstances, but that does not warrant the relief requested by the United States particularly where, as here, to do so would require the Court to disregard applicable law and violate fundamental principals of federalism."

Judge Pro's ruling causes speculation that this case is far from over!

In order to prevent racketeering charges against his brother Ralph, sister Annette, and father Bart, Rick Rizzolo agreed to sell the Crazy Horse, and to pay the over $28 million in debts he owes to the Henrys, Security Pacific Bank, IRS, City of Las Vegas, and to deposit $1 million dollars into a District Court's escrow account to be dispersed in the event the late James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier's family prevails at a civil harassment lawsuit trial to be scheduled on July 17.

Henry's attorneys must have anticipated Judge Pro's ruling because in May, they quietly filed a federal lawsuit naming Lisa Rizzolo as co-conspirator after she was transferred most of the family's assets in a hasty divorce filed several weeks before Rick began his plea negotiations.

This case has also been assigned to Judge Pro.

In a document filed on June 4, in Federal Court, Rizzolo's attorneys admitted the possibility their client's ill-conceived LLCs and Separate Trusts can be pierced, and put the couple at risk to their creditors.

Because Rick Rizzolo was unable -- or unwilling -- to sell his business and real estate as he stipulated in his June 2006 plea bargain agreement, the clock finally ran out last week. Rizzolo had somehow allowed the once-most profitable strip club in the US to  become nothing more than a warehouse -- to never again extort, beat, or kill its customers in order to generate the $45 million dollars per year profit he once bragged of making!

According to government prosecutors, "...proposed third party managers/sellers of the Crazy Horse Too were either connected to Rizzolo through the Crazy Horse Too in Philadelphia or Las Vegas and wanted to open and operate the Crazy Horse Too in Las Vegas under outrageous conditions or were friends or associates of defendants or defendant's attorneys but were not qualified to open or operate the Crazy Horse Too."

Rizzolo completely blew it! Even Ray Charles could see through his ploy; put a straw man in to supposedly buy and run the place.

However, Judge Pro had heard enough, and so had the city council.

On June 18, Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese moved to deny the last and final purported "buyer" Rizzolo produced because the buyer could not substantiate where his "$32 million dollars" was coming from. When the buyer's supposed  financier, Michael Kinses (another person with strong ties to Rizzolo) was called to the podium to speak, even Mayor Oscar Goodman had had his fill of his friend and former client Rick Rizzolo's bullshit, saying it was not necessary for Kinses to speak, and "I would not want to humiliate the gentleman."

Goodman ended with, "I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight," before voting to destroy Rizzolo, something I never expected him to do to a former client.

Six days later at the June 24 hearing in Federal Court, Rizzolo's lawyer Mark Hafer tried to tell Judge Pro that another eleventh hour "buyer" was sitting in the court room gallery, a mystery man who Hafer said was willing to pay "$42 million" for the Crazy Horse Too! Judge Pro didn't waste the court's time acknowledging Hafer's last minute.offer.

Since the late 1970s, the Rizzolo family has operated the Industrial Road enterprise. They managed to keep their criminal activities under the radar by paying off judges, district attorneys, and city council members.

In the meantime, several crooked cops on their nights off were reportedly given VIP privileges when they flashed their badges at the door along with city fire and building department employees, and a few paramedics who would in turn fail to file reports that would incriminate Crazy Horse Too employees after they committed acts of violence on club patrons who complained about padded credit card bills.

In this 2004 photo by the late Buffalo Jim Barrier, Bobby D'Apice (brown jacket) escorts Las Vegas Paramedics into the Crazy Horse Too for coffee and eye candy.

D'Apice was later charged with the crippling of Kirk Henry, and is currently serving a five year sentence in federal prison.

Finally, this sad part of Las Vegas' history has come to an end. But the defeat of the Crazy Horse Too does not end the story of the Rizzolos and the carnage they've perpetuated on our city. More later.

Controversy follows Clark County Coroner Dr. Larry Simms

Clark County Coroner Larry Simms denied sending Buffalo Jim Barrier's blood and urine specimens to a lab in Pennsylvania to have them checked for GHB. However, Barrier's specimens somehow found their way there, where they were determined to "require further testing" which Simms refused to authorize.

After refusing to further test the specimens, Dr. Simms issued his "COCAINE INTOXICATION" finding without releasing copies of the toxicology reports to Barrier's family, police, or the media.

He then told the press that GHB is in everyone's blood, and that Barrier had a "normal" amount in his.

If so, then how did Barrier's blood and urine specimens find their way to a special lab used by the FBI to determine the presence of GHB?

And why is Dr. Simms now refusing to explain how or why Barrier's specimens were sent to this lab?

This is not the first time Dr. Larry Simms has been called on the carpet for inconsistencies. The following statement by Jack W. Snyder, MD, JD, PhD appears on the Court TV web site about Dr. Simms' change of mind regarding the late Ted Binion's cause of death.

In this case, Dr. Simms at first said Binion's death was from a drug overdose.

Six months later, after the Behnen family spent a small fortune to open a murder investigation and have charges filed against Ted Binion's live-in girl friend Sandy Murphy who was heir to a major part of Binion's estate, Dr. Simms changed his mind about the cause of Binion's death, suddenly testifying it was "homicide" at murphy's initial trial when she was convicted of first degree murder, and at her re-trial when she was exonerated.

At the second trial, Dr. Simms, after exhaustive cross examination, failed to convince the jury of his reason for changing his mind.

Here are the words of Dr. Snyder:

"As a forensic pathologist and forensic toxicologist, and with a reasonable degree of medical scientific certainty, I offer the following comments:

On October 2, 1998, Dr. Simms signed a death certificate attributing the cause of LTB’s death to intoxication by alprazolam and opiates. He listed the manner of death as undetermined. By contrast, on his autopsy report dated September 18 through October 15, 1998, he listed the manner of death as 'homicide.' Dr. Simms testified on September 19, 1999 that he made his 'homicide' determination in March of 1999, but the specific reason(s) for the discrepancy between the death certificate and the autopsy report, and the specific basis for Dr. Simms’ 'homicide' conclusion, cannot be determined from the documents I reviewed."

Dr. Larry Simms has some questions to answer regarding why Buffalo Jim Barrier's specimens were sent to an out of state lab that specializes in finding possible GHB involved in death cases. And why he stopped further "required" testing, then told the media that Barrier died a cocaine related death, when a small quantity of GHB -- enough to spend tax dollars on a special lab to quantify -- was also present in his blood and urine?

Simms quick determination of cause of Barrier's death, much the same as he did in the Binion case, shattered his credibility, and draws question to his "normal amount of GHB" statement.

Death Threats

Since I began reporting on a January 21, 2008 incident involving the 26 year old son of Rick Rizzolo, I have been the recipient of two death threats. They may or may not have been in response to my posting the following page from the Clark County Justice Court in several of my INSIDE VEGAS DAILY E-Briefs.

Dominic's  Preliminary Hearing is on July 30 at 9 AM. He's expected to plead not guilty based on self defense to charges of assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, and attempted extortion involving a January 21 incident when he was accused of trying to extort $20,000 from a former Bishop Gorman High School classmate.

When victim Billy Moyer allegedly refused to pay the extortion, Rizzolo allegedly said, "Do you know who my family is?" A fight ensued. Rizzolo allegedly pulled a switch blade knife and stabbed Moyer in the upper abdomen.

Dominic was reported to have driven to Moyer's house in a dark colored SUV with the license place covered by a T-shirt. After the stabbing, Rizzolo lost his shoe while running to his vehicle.

Dominic was arrested nine weeks after the incident when police were finally able to locate him residing with Rick Rizzolo's god son Rick Belcastro in a Summerlin estate.

Belcastro is the owner of Bada Bing. Rick Rizzolo is suspected of being a hidden owner in the strip club.

I am the only local writer/reporter covering this story, so my attorneys have recommended that I make the following information available to my readers.

I received this greeting card on April 19, 2008:

I immediately filed Crime Reports with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and the FBI.

I continued writing about the Rizzolo family's activities, and on June 23, the following paragraph appeared in my column:

"Between Lisa Rizzolo's illegally transferred houses in Las Vegas, Newport Beach, and Chicago; her $7.2 million dollar annuity; the money Rick received from the sale of the Philadelphia Crazy Horse Too; Rick's gambling cash he has secreted in safety deposit boxes up and down the Strip; along with jewelry, cars, and other hidden valuables, there is plenty of money available to pay Mr. Henry, the bank, the city, the state, and the IRS.  And it will be far easier to achieve than waiting endlessly for the US Marshals and C.B. Richard Ellis Realty to find a qualified person to buy the Crazy Horse property for enough to pay off all the Rizzolo's personal debts."

That same day, another death threat was posted:

I filed a continuation of my Crime Report including the above letter on Saturday, June 28.

The identity of the sender of either death threat has not been confirmed at this date, though I have made the original items available for forensic examination by police and the FBI per their requests.

When Judge Pro hears the complaint filed by the family of Kirk Henry, the judge will be faced with determining who will be first to receive any proceeds derived from the possible seizure and liquidation of assets transferred to Lisa Rizzolo.

So far, Judge Pro has ruled that any money derived from the sale of the Crazy Horse Too property be distributed in the following order: (1)  All of the United States Marshals Service's costs, expenses, and private counsel's attorney fees for the real property transaction related to the care and the sale of the Property and the Trademark and Trade name Crazy Horse Too including but not limited to the maintenance, the protection, the repair, the service of process, the publication, the utilities, the insurance, the CB Richard Ellis real estate commission, the escrow, the closing costs, the real estate transfer tax, private counsel's attorney fees for the real property transaction, etc.; (2)  The Clark County Taxes owed on the Property with penalties and interest; (3) The City of Las Vegas sewer lien; (4) The Security Pacific Bank loan with attorneys' fees, penalties, and interest; (5) The restitution of US $9,000,000.00 plus interest to Kirk and Amy Henry; (6) The restitution of US $1,734,000.00 plus accruals to the IRS; (7) The fines of US $750,000.00 plus interest; (8) The forfeiture of US $4,250,000.00 plus interest; (9) The City of Las Vegas judgment lien of US $2, l 92,000.00 plus interest;: and (10) The IRS tax Iien against Rizzolo for the 2006 individual income taxes of US $1,032,535.26 plus accruals.

That said, it's painfully obvious that the sale of a broken down 1960s era warehouse located on 2.3 acres in a seedy part of town will not come close to paying Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's personal financial obligations -- obligations Rick agreed to pay to keep his family from being prosecuted, and to get himself a lighter sentence. Remember, the couple were man and wife during the time these obligations were incurred.

I would not be surprised if another plea bargain is in the works. This time with Lisa as the bait with prosecutors saying, "Either disclose where you hid your assets, or your wife will be prosecuted, and you'll go back to prison."

And, if the Rizzolo's dip into their hidden assets to pay their attorneys, they may identify and hasten the seizure of those assets. So, I believe my source who recently told me she overheard Bart Rizzolo telling a friend how his family's attorneys were "gouging" them, and how expensive it's getting to fight off so many adversaries.

I've also been told that Bart is blaming Steve Miller for his troubles.

The same source said that Bart has been shopping around town for a $2 million dollar hard money loan to pay attorneys because it would look too fishy to pay them in cash, but so far no lenders have taken his bait.

Then there's Lisa Rizzolo's neighbors in the exclusive Canyon Gate Country Club, who report that her "ex-husband" has resumed living in the fraudulently transferred multi-million dollar estate at 8632 Canyon View Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89117.

In the meantime, Kirk Henry remains a quadriplegic, unable to pay his medical bills.

Therefore, the only way all of the above creditors can be paid is if Judge Pro rules that the divorce was fraudulently contrived to illegally transfer and hide the couple's racketeering-derived assets.

Regular INSIDE VEGAS readers know that I've been harping on this subject for years, and I believe my persistence has really pissed off a few important folks around town, possibly enough to inspire the death threats to try to shut me up.

Well, it hasn't!

Click here to listen to " The Ghost of Buffalo Jim."

Copyright © Steve Miller

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