Ousted Vegas officials may be indicted
in organized crime probe
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 18, 2003
Four Vegas politicians go down hard, more to come...
In a town where is appearance is everything, former politicians Erin
Kenny, Dario Herrera, Mike McDonald and Lance Malone had it all - looks,
youth, fame, status, and the chance to drink from the public's trough.
Then the sky fell in.
In the eyes of the voters, Erin and Dario sitting together on the powerful
Clark County Commission resembled Barbie and Ken, but in the eyes of the
FBI they looked more like Bonnie and Clyde. The rich and powerful bowed
to them, but behind the scenes much was happening that would be the harbinger
of the biggest political corruption probe this callous city has ever seen,
a probe that would spill over into San Diego, California and beyond, and
would end the political careers of some of Nevada's most promising.
The two former commissioners were so popular that only last year each
sought higher office and were heavily favored to win. Kenny ran for Nevada
Lieutenant Governor, and former male model Herrea ran for Congress. However,
both promising political careers came to a screeching halt when it was
learned they were involved with persons who did not have the public's interests
Former policeman Malone, who was on the prestigious county commission
through the late 1990's, lost his bid for reelection in 2000 because of
conflicts of interests. Then this year, McDonald, also an ex-cop, suffered
the same fate on the city council because of whom he chose to associate
For the past several years it has been suspected that a new Mob has
moved in on Sin City. The new breed wear three piece suits, have beach
houses in Southern California, and some even have law degrees, but make
no mistake, they're cut from the same cloth gangsters of lore once wore.
Their aim, until recent events, was to corrupt local politicians and buy
protection from local
law enforcement so they can ply their trades with impunity.
Their crimes of choice? Money laundering, credit
card fraud, coercion, prostitution
and narcotics, battery,
Their new venues? A few Sin City topless joints.
Erin Kenny is expected to plead
guilty to charges she accepted money from local strip bars and developers
to do their bidding on the commission, while Herrera, McDonald and Malone
have not made public statements but are sure to be spilling their guts
behind the scenes. More names are certain to surface within the next few
I was the first writer to cover this ever growing story. Back in 2001,
I happened onto a transcript of a county commission meeting that inspired
me to pen the following commentary. I never imagined how big the story
Are There Double Standards For Nudie Bar Applicants?
COLUMN: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
January 24, 2001
In May 1999, Clark County Commissioners Bruce Woodbury, Mary Kincaid
and Yvonne Atkinson Gates, along with Lt. Tim Leveque of the Las Vegas
Metropolitan Police Department and county Business License Director Ardel
Jorgenson pleaded with commissioners to send agents to Atlanta to investigate
Jack Galardi, the owner of Cheetahs strip clubs in Vegas and San Diego.
At that time Vegas police believed that Galardi was under investigation
by a federal grand jury in Georgia.
Galardi wanted approval to build Jaguars strip club on West Desert
Inn Road in Las Vegas.
The cost of the Atlanta trip was to be $11,000. Commissioner Dario
Herrera argued that the trip was not necessary and that he could not support
spending the taxpayer's money in that way. Commissioner Erin Kenny supported
his stance. The discussion played down the fact that the cost would be
reimbursed by the applicant.
Woodbury, Kincaid and Gates argued that it is not prudent to allow
a strip club -- which would be the only one (at the time) in the unincorporated
county -- to open without looking into the owners' background. The last
background check conducted on Galardi was in 1990.
"We believe he should be investigated and investigated thoroughly
so we know who we're giving a license to," said Jorgenson at the hearing.
Even with this strong admonition, three of the commissioners sided with
Commissioner Herrera who led the charge to deny the travel funding to Metro.
Since that hearing in 1999, Herrera has been appointed Chairman of
the Commission. Herrera is also being spoken of as a contender for the
new congressional seat. This takes big money and friends in the right places.
On the other side of the city/county line is the case of presidential
advisor Sig Rogich. His application for a liquor license has been put on
hold by the City Council to give more time to complete a background check
on Ali and Hassan Davari of Houston, the potential buyers of Sig's property
who want to convert it into a topless club.
The Davaris have adult clubs in Houston and want to turn Rogich's
building into a club called the Boardroom (later changed to Treasures).
The item was held because the city had discovered some criminal trouble
at some of the brother's Houston clubs.
In contrast to Herrera's action in the county regarding Galardi's
application, no travel expense is being spared by the city in the quest
to learn all there is about the Davaris. Of course, Councilman Mike McDonald
is abstaining on the issue because of his close friendship with competing
topless club owner Frederick "Rick" Rizzolo.
In 1999, Commissioner Herrera wanted investigators to limit their
inquiry to intelligence they could gather locally on Galardi. Today, the
City Council wants unlimited intelligence gathered on the Davaris. What's
Some speculate that since the city was accused of allowing strip
club owner Rizzolo to complete a 6,000-square-foot addition and then seek
and receive a zoning change after the addition was built and open, that
the latest version of the council under Mayor Oscar Goodman is being more
careful than when his predecessor Jan Jones was Mayor.
Jones and McDonald were noted as frequent visitors to Rizzolo's Canyon
Gate home and took some heat for it. Nonetheless, Rizzolo's expansion was
the fact and resulted in a nasty lawsuit
brought against the city by nearby property owners.
Based on the difference between the behavior of city and county elected
leaders on the same subject -- the county limiting their inquiry to intelligence
they can gather locally -- and the city looking to other states to fully
investigate nudie bar applicants, I cannot help but wonder if there is
a double standard?
Or is it a case of who you know?
Clark County Commissioner Dario Herrera may need to answer this question
before he decides to run for higher office.
© Copyright 2001, Steve Miller
One month following my story, the Davari's were reluctantly granted
their license but were made subject to a review
by the city council six months after the club opened. More significantly,
per orders of Mayor Oscar Goodman, the brothers promised to surrender their
liquor license without a legal challenge if any of the club's dancers are
convicted on sexual misconduct charges. This, in contrast to special treatment
afforded Rizzolo's business which has a long history of ongoing problems
ignored by the city council and local law enforcement agencies, problems
so vast that federal intervention was being considered more than two years
Then, nothing happened for more than two years until the proverbial
"shit hit the fan!" Without warning, on February 20, 2003, the FBI and
IRS descended on the Crazy Horse and seized truckloads of financial records,
videotapes, and computers from Rizzolo's office. The Crazy Horse raid
commenced the political demise of Rizzolo's flunky on the council, Mike
McDonald, who was handily defeated in the Spring election. It was also
the spark that ignited the additional probes that are currently shaking
our town's fragile foundation.
Mayor Goodman visiting
my home, February 21, 2003
The day after the raid, I suddenly found Mayor
Goodman at my doorstep. He told me he could not bring the Crazy Horse up
on an administrative
action (show cause hearing) while it is under federal investigation.
I strongly disagreed and told him he must treat Rizzolo the same as he
threatened to treat the Davaris. The mayor did nothing and the problems
at the Crazy Horse continued undaunted. This caused speculation that Goodman
maintains ties to his former law firm's organized crime clients including
Cusumano, a close associate of Rizzolo. Cusumano has long been suspected
of having hidden ownership in the Crazy Horse.
In May, 2003, the same federal agents raided
two more Vegas strip clubs -- Cheetahs and Jaguars owned by Jack and Mike
Galardi -- as well as the downtown offices of Galardi Enterprises. Simultaneously
federal agents were searching the Cheetahs in San Diego and the offices
of three councilmen at San Diego City Hall looking for evidence of political
Before the dust settles, I predict that a cadre of Sin City politicians
will get caught up in the probe with several possibly spending time in
the fed slammer for "consorting
with persons of ill repute." All this just for wanting a piece of the
"good life" enjoyed by our town's new underworld, a group of folks that
don't even live here.
In the near future, I predict we will hear a lot from the California
hamlet of Newport Beach, a place where many of our town's corrupters feel
safe while commuting to Vegas in private jets to do their dirty work. However,
they soon will learn that Surf City offers no respite from their wrongdoing
in Sin City. With federal sharks sensing blood in the water, they'll find
no safe harbor.
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com