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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 Ghost of Buffalo Jim
"And the mayor winked and raised his drink and said
'Let's toast to him.' And his very good friends all joined in,
"Here's to good ol' Buffalo Jim (laughter)."

Dominic Rizzolo expected to plead not guilty
Victim says he was stabbed after refusing extortion demand

Violence follows former Crazy Horse Too manager
"The strip club released a statement saying that management
strived to maintain a 'safe and comfortable environment' for
its employees." - LV Review-Journal

Beating victim goes after Rizzolo's hidden fortune
Rick and Lisa Rizzolo accused as co-conspirators

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
June 9, 2008

LAS VEGAS - "The Ghost of Buffalo Jim" MP3 is about to hit the airwaves and can be heard by clicking HERE. The haunting lyrics tell the story of what many believe to be the last hours of the man who fought the current Vegas mob, and mysteriously died the day after Rick Rizzolo was released from prison.

Rizzolo was the owner of the most profitable topless bar in the US, the infamous Crazy Horse Too. Buffalo Jim Barrier, a former pro wrestler, owned the little auto repair shop next to the bar, and since 1999 fearlessly photographed and reported the aftermath of a decades long extortion racket that only the FBI could kill. Barrier's photos of beating victims were shown on NBC News, and his testimony helped to convict Rizzolo along with 16 of his mob associates, and caused the seizure of the mob's business and property by the United States of America.

Barriers perseverance also exposed the local district attorney who refused to respond to numerous requests for prosecution of Crazy Horse employees brought to him by police.

On April 6, 2008, Barrier's body was discovered in a motel room. On the day of his death, Barrier received an anonymous letter forewarning him of his demise. In it the writer claimed that Rizzolo had met with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and that "Oscar Goodman has made some very bad remarks about you. Keep in mind, he does feel he can do what ever is necessary to see you fail."

When Goodman and his wife arrived in Vegas in the 1960s, he claimed to be broke. After working for the local DA for a year, he was taken under the wing of noted criminal defense attorney Harry Claiborne. Claiborne was best known for his ability to pay off local judges to help him get the rulings and verdicts he wanted.

Goodman soon learned the ropes and began attracting new criminal clients to Claiborne's law firm. One of his first was a man named Joey Cusumano. Cusumano would soon bring the young lawyer scores of his mob friends as clients including the late Tony "The ant" Spilotro and Rick Rizzolo, clients who preyed on our tourists and local residents.

In his later years, Harry Claiborne was appointed federal judge but ended up reversing his role, taking bribes, and joined his clients in prison after being convicted of multiple felonies.

Oscar Goodman never stopped saying Claiborne was a great American. Claiborne's example influenced the remainder of Goodman's career.

The Claiborne/Goodman alliance and their acceptance in Las Vegas' society began to change our town from a safe place where residents left their front doors unlocked, to one of the most crime plagued cities in the US according to national statistics.

Crooks knew that lawyers like Claiborne and Goodman could get to most judges and the DA, and get them off if they were willing to pay for the service. Goodman always looked good in local court rooms, winning and winning. The only times he looked bad was when he ventured to Chicago or San Diego where he was usually chewed up and spit out by local prosecutors.

In the 1980s, Goodman's 520 S. Fourth Street law office grew with the additions of David Chesnoff and Jay Brown. Goodman taught them the trade, and they've also flourished financially under his tutelage. Their clientele includes some of our town's worst criminals who with their help are free to prey on our locals and tourists.

With the skills he learned from his mentor, and a part playing himself in the movie "Casino," Goodman soon became famous. He and his wife Carolyn along with his law partners and clients also became nouvo riche at the expense of the safety and well being of the Las Vegas community. This is the same naive, star struck community that elected Goodman their mayor; treats him like some sort of hero; and waits in line for his autograph at public events.

In 1990, Goodman convinced the then-DA to let Rizzolo off with a gross misdemeanor after the bar owner beat a patron almost to death with a baseball bat. Goodman and Rizzolo have remained friends ever since, and Goodman proved his friendship time and again by harassing Barrier on Rizzolo's behalf.

During the first years of Goodman's tenure at city hall, Barrier was the subject of intense harassment from city employees who did everything they were told to disrupt his business. Barrier sued Rizzolo for being behind the actions, the story hit the papers, and the harassment stopped, at least from city employees.

The case slowly made its way through the courts, and the trial is still pending, but when a district court judge ordered that Rizzolo put one million dollars aside in the court's escrow account to insure payment in the now likely event Barrier's family prevails at trial, Rick Rizzolo was humiliated.

Though Rizzolo was in prison at the time of the ORDER, Barrier's friends warned him to watch his back. He continued his surveillance of the now-closed topless bar, and discovered that Rizzolo family members were trespassing daily to loot the building of valuables seized by the federal government. Barrier photographed the break-ins, and the locks were soon changed. The incidents were reported in the media, and again, members of the Rizzolo family who were photographed illegally entering the building were humiliated.

The hatred escalated until November, 2007 when Bart Rizzolo attempted to run Barrier over in a parking lot. Barrier filed for and received a Restraining Order. After the event hit the papers, Bart's attorney Dominic Gentile threatened to sue Barrier for defaming his 76 year old client. In response to the threatened defamation law suit, Barrier filed and received a second Restraining Order against the elder Rizzolo. No defamation law suit followed, though Barrier dared Gentile to file one. The story hit the papers again which further humiliated the Rizzolo family.

Barrier was again warned to watch his back because Bart is the family patriarch.

Barrier turned up dead several months later.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree

On January 21, 2008, Buffalo Jim Barrier called reporters to say that Dominic Rizzolo, 26, had stabbed a man with a switch blade knife.

Because Barrier was a reliable source, I wrote one paragraph about the rumor in my daily E-Brief, but waited until I could receive official confirmation to report the incident in detail.

In late March, Barrier called to say that a source told him he overheard Bart Rizzolo in a restaurant complaining of how the law firm Patti and Sgro was gouging him in legal fees to get his grandson off. The eavesdropper said that Bart made no mention of the severity of the crime, just of how expensive it would be to rig the case. I wrote about the overheard conversation in another E-Brief.

Barrier, again, was causing the Rizzolos problems through his uncanny list of sources and his constant calls to reporters. This time by revealing something the family evidently intended to have swept under the carpet with the help of a compromised DA.

My E-Briefs may have inspired police to take action because Dominic was arrested on March 26, nine weeks after the stabbing. He was allegedly hiding from police at a Summerlin estate owned by Rick Belcastro, the god son of Rick Rizzolo, and the owner of Bada Bing strip club.

Dominic was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, and attempted extortion.

The stabbing victim, 26 year old Billy Moyer, told police that Rizzolo appeared at his home demanding he pay him $20,000 after saying "You know who my family is."

According to police reports, when Moyer refused to pay, Rizzolo reportedly hit him in the face with his fist. During the ensuing fight in which Moyer was reportedly getting the upper hand, Rizzolo reportedly pulled a switch blade and stabbed Moyer in the stomach before running to his car and losing his shoe along the way.

Moyer received a four inch deep puncture wound in his upper abdomen. After receiving emergency surgery and spending four days in the hospital including two days in intensive care, Moyer filed criminal charges.

Saying the act was clearly premeditated, Moyer described a mutual acquaintance calling his home a few minutes before the stabbing, asking if he was staying home that evening? When Moyer said he had no plans to leave, Rizzolo reportedly drove to Moyer's home with a T-shirt covering the license plate of his vehicle. Two other persons were reportedly in the dark blue SUV.

Dominic Rizzolo did not file a police report or seek medical help following the altercation though he now claims his life was in danger.

Rizzolo's attorney Tony Sgro says there were two eye witnesses in the SUV who filed sworn statements and will testify that Moyer was the aggressor and hit Rizzolo with a rock. That Dominic stabbed Moyer in order to protect himself.

However, one of the two witnesses has since told sources that they were threatened with bodily harm if they refused to go to Sgro's office to sign the affidavits.

Moyer and Rizzolo attended Bishop Gorman Catholic High School in the 1990s, but according to Moyer have not had a relationship since. Moyer stated that "Since leaving high school, I didn't like the way Rizzolo carried himself," describing a time when Rizzolo was in a casino with a girl friend who had a pistol in her purse. According to Moyer, Rizzolo asked the girl to show his friends the gun.

Moyer told police he believed Rizzolo covered his license plate because he intended to commit a crime that night and didn't want to be identified.

Rizzolo is expected to plead self defense saying he was just trying to collect a debt.

Dominic Rizzolo is being prosecuted by District Attorney David Roger's office. Roger accepted at least $13,000 in campaign contributions from Rick Rizzolo during his 2003 campaign. Roger also attended a fund raiser held in his honor at Rizzolo's Canyon Gate estate. Since his election, Roger has dropped all cases brought by Metro Police against the Crazy Horse Too including the beating of Kirk Henry, and wrongful death of Scott David Fau.

During his reelection in 2007, Tony Sgro donated the use of an office in his building for David Roger's campaign headquarters.

The Preliminary Hearing is scheduled for July 30. Rizzolo was released on his own recognizance after being booked.

Dominic Rizzolo is a partner in Outlaw Consulting, LLC.

Violence follows former Crazy Horse Too manager

Only in Vegas can a convicted felon with ties to a mob owned strip club that was seized by the government for extorting its patrons, get a Sheriff's Card and become the manager of another strip club.

Albert Rapuano (on right walking with Rick Rizzolo in this photo by Mike Christ) was convicted of the racketeering that shut down his previous place of employment after dozens of acts of violence.

Now, Mr. Rapuano is the manager of the Penthouse Gentleman's Club where, on June 5, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, "a bar patron got into a physical altercation with the manager of the club and then went to his vehicle, a black Hummer H3 with Nevada license plates. He got into the vehicle, drove to the club's entrance and fired two shots,  (police Lt. Lew) Roberts said. He then got out and continued shooting. 'The manager and another witness fled to the back of the business,'  Roberts said. 'Our suspect followed them inside, firing multiple shots at both subjects while inside the business.'"

After the shooting inside the club, the suspect drove away with police in hot pursuit. He fired several shots at an officer. The officer returned fire killing the suspect.

My question is, why didn't the "management" of the bar let security handle the situation, or call police before the incident escalated? Shades of the Crazy Horse Too...

The chickens have come home to roost

For years I've nagged that the feds need to go after Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's cleverly hidden personal assets in order to pay the couple's court ordered debts incurred while they were married. This after the FBI filed a document with the court saying they could not locate the assets.

Last week, the US Attorney for Nevada filed a document saying the Rizzolos were finally becoming aware their hidden assets could be seized.

In his settlement with the government in exchange for a light sentence, Rick Rizzolo agreed to not declare bankruptcy in the event he is legally challenged to pay his debts.

In 2005, immediately following Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's hasty divorce and three weeks after the about-to-be convicted racketeer began negotiating his plea agreement with federal government prosecutors, the couple on advice of their shared divorce attorneys Dean Patti and Tony Sgro visited the highly respected law firm of Lionel Sawyer and Collins in Las Vegas, a law firm closely associated with United States Senator Harry Reid. There they met with attorney John E. Dawson, the brother of a federal court judge.

By complete coincidence, attorney Dawson's brother is Judge Kent Dawson, the judge assigned to preside over the trials of 16 of the 17 Crazy Horse Too defendants.

Throwing conflicts of interest to the wind, attorney Dawson went right to work setting up the "LISA M. RIZZOLO SEPARATE PROPERTY TRUST," and other LLCs to keep the Rizzolo's money from paying beating victim Kirk Henry's medical bills, and other court ordered debts amounting to over $28 million dollars. John Dawson's brother the judge never uttered a word about it in court.

On Friday, Jun 6, the Las Vegas Sun reported, "Rizzolo, the suit alleges, created a phony 'family trust' and engaged in millions of dollars worth of cash transactions, including running up gambling debts, to obscure his assets. The Henrys contend the scheme included a June 2005 divorce in which Lisa Rizzolo was given nearly all of Rizzolo’s assets except the Crazy Horse Too. The lawsuit alleges Lisa Rizzolo was a conspirator and names her as a co-defendant. In the divorce settlement, as the Sun first reported, Rizzolo gave his former wife the couple's 5,763-square-foot home in Canyon Gate, as well as a $1.4 million oceanfront home in Newport Beach, Calif., and a condominium in Chicago. Rizzolo also gave her $7.2 million in investment accounts and agreed to pay her $5 million in alimony over a five-year period... Attorneys Don Campbell and Stan Hunterton quietly filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Henrys last month as tempers flared over the government's efforts to give a bank higher priority than the couple in the distribution of millions of dollars in proceeds from the pending sale of the Crazy Horse Too."

It sure took a while, but now it looks as though the "chickens have come home to roost" in regard to the Rizzolo's hidden assets. It will be interesting to see if the attorney who hid the assets is identified, and if so, will it bring embarrassment upon his federal-court-judge-brother who dealt Rizzolo's associates suspiciously light sentences?

Attorney Dawson hid the Rizzolo's assets even though Rick Rizzolo's battle with the FBI and IRS was front page news at the time.

And it will also be interesting to see what the court does if Rizzolo's money and assets cannot be located? Will Judge Philip Pro order the racketeer back to prison for violating his plea agreement that personally guaranteed payment if the proceeds from the Crazy Horse Too sale proved inadequate to cover his and his wife's debts?

And then there's District Court Judge Jackie Glass who refused to let Kirk Henry's attorneys examine Rizzolo's personal hidden assets. In June 2007, when Henry's attorneys asked for permission to look for the assets, the Review-Journal reported that Judge Glass interrupted, saying,."'Stop , stop, please. I did not draft the settlement agreement,' she said, obviously annoyed. 'You have to wait for the sale of this business.' The settlement agreement clearly states that Henry doesn't get the rest of his payment until the club is sold, she said... Both Campbell and Rizzolo's attorney have blamed the city revoking Rizzolo's liquor license for the stalled sale. Glass's husband, Steve Wolfson, sits on the Las Vegas City Council."

This is the same city council that is dictated to by Oscar Goodman who is Rizzolo's former attorney and corporate agent.

Judge Glass' husband is also a criminal defense attorney and wants to be the next mayor.

Goodman's law partner and Rizzolo's other former corporate agent is Jay Brown who did legal work for the Crazy Horse Too. Brown is the business partner of US Senator Reid who appointed Judge Dawson to the federal bench for life. Senator Reid's son Rory is a stockholder in Lionel Sawyer and Collins, the firm that employs John Dawson. And Rory Reid is the chairman of the Clark County Commission who granted Al Rapuano permission to manage another strip joint.

In the meantime, a sad song laments a real hero's death; a mob lawyer wants to be Nevada's next governor; Rick and Lisa Rizzolo still have their ill-gotten fortune; Billy Moyer is recovering from his wounds; another strip club was just shot up; and Kirk Henry is paralyzed from the neck down and can't pay his medical bills.

Copyright © Steve Miller

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Copyright © Steve Miller

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