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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:

Rizzolo's personal assets get exposed,
along with Steve Miller's secrets!

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 20, 2007

LAS VEGAS - When it rains it pours. Like a late summer monsoon in the neon desert, INSIDE VEGAS this past week was deluged with new information.

First -- the Federal Court finally got fed up with Rick Rizzolo's stall tactics and ordered that his and his ex-wife's personal assets can be seized. Then the city I love was deluged with information about my personal life -- information I'd rather keep from my next door neighbors who up until now didn't know much about what I do, especially my involvement with

          Click on the magazine cover to read the full story
Writing about the mob in a mob controlled town is hard to do in privacy.

Around here, its not healthy to write about the current LV mob. It's also hard to keep secrets in such a place.

Andrew Kiraly, CityLife magazine's managing editor, blew my cover with this week's front page story.

CityLife is owned by the LV Review-Journal, Nevada's largest newspaper. So I've been seeing my mug surrounded by sharks looking out from news stands all week. Kinda makes it hard to keep a low profile.

But before you click on the cover, let me make a few clarifications.

The water in my pool is blue, not green, I would never exploit the handicapped, and I've run for office 5 times, not 11.

In the story, former Mayor Jan Jones says I had nothing to do with getting rid of the old Vegas bus system and replacing it with the state of the art RTC run CAT (Citizens Area Transit). She neglected to say that when I was serving on the Clark County Regional Transportation Commission and City Council, I was assigned the task of auditing the old transit system. I did too good a job for her taste.

During the audit I discovered the old operator skimming from $17 to $25 million in fares each year from the Strip route. That's why Commissioner Bruce Woodbury and I went after her friend and revoked his company's franchise after 49 years in business, only one year before the franchise was certain to be renewed. The bus company sued me and threatened to sue Woodbury for exposing their scam. The CEO was a personal friend of then-Mayor Jones, and had I not been the "bomb-thrower," "searching and destroying" as she describes, her buddy's bus system would still be skimming the Strip fares today.

Also, current LV City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian is named in the article as someone I tried to make look like a "mob moll."  Though that wasn't my intention, I did disclose that she and her family have business dealings with close friends and associates of Rick Rizzolo. CityLife neglected to tell its readers I also disclosed that Lois' husband Jerry attended Rick Rizzolo's Farewell Party at Councilwoman Tarkanian's business partner Freddy Glusman's Newport Beach restaurant. Soon after the party, Lois voted to give a liquor license to Rizzolo's straw man against the advice of the Metro PD and City Attorney. The straw man proceeded to skim the Crazy Horse dry while Councilwoman Tarkanian looked the other way.

Otherwise, the article is painfully accurate.

Judge Pro issues ORDER allowing seizure of Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's personal assets
Late last Thursday, U.S. Federal Judge Philip Pro GRANTED the Government's motion to authorize the forfeiture, seizure, or sale of Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's hidden cash, annuities, and fraudulently transferred houses in Las Vegas, Newport Beach, and Chicago in the event the sale of the Crazy Horse Too topless bar is not consummated by Sept. 30, 2007, or if it is sold, the sales price does not equal the amount of liabilities the Rizzolos owe.
Judge Pro also ORDERED that three named buyers be approved if they can come up with the money, and that the club must be sold to one of them by Sept. 30, or it will be auctioned off by the U.S. Marshal.

Department of Justice SealThe United States Department of Justice, District of Nevada  
Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Additionally, defendants’ plea agreements require The Power Company, Inc. to sell The Crazy Horse Too by June 1, 2007. The Government has the right to disapprove the sale if the buyer is a close relative or ongoing business partner of Rizzolo’s, is a felon, or has business dealings with organized crime members or groups.

Last Tuesday, prior to Judge Pro's ruling, the U.S. Prosecutor mysteriously filed a motion to keep the names of the three purported buyers sealed. I guess he thought that if their names surfaced, they might get cold feet. Judge Pro DENIED the motion and released the names and amount each supposedly offered.

Here's what the Prosecutor didn't want you to see (PS: I faxed each of the "buyers" a copy of this article):


The court also DENIED Rizzolo's motion to appoint "Rick's Cabaret, Inc."  to run the bar until he's released from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center this spring. The reason for denial was more than obvious. The beatings stopped the minute Rizzolo was incarcerated.
It will be interesting to see if any of the above named "buyers" know that they are buying a pig in a poke because the topless bar is dark and devoid of a liquor license, and none of the buyers have a current liquor license in the City of Las Vegas. Furthermore, any new operator will be faced with having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per week in bribes to unscrupulous hotel door men, limo, van, and taxi drivers, or face being boycotted.
When the City Council ordered the previous straw man to cease bribing drivers, the Crazy Horse was subjected to a boycott, and business dropped to a trickle. In Vegas if a topless bar owner refuses to pay cash bribes -- between $35 and $70 per passenger -- and subsequently suffers a boycott, no official action is ever taken by local authorities. Some swing and graveyard shift limo, van, and taxi drivers brag about making over $100,000 in cash per year extorting topless bars, or delivering tourists to massage parlors, swinger's clubs, or clandestine whore houses located in residential neighborhoods. Few drivers realize that they may be delivering fares to places that beat up people if they refuse to sign inflated credit card tabs, or worse.

Also keep in mind that the unregulated Sin City sex businesses such as Asian massage parlors and escort services are responsible for spreading AIDS to unsuspecting tourists who think prostitution is legal in Clark County. This has been going on for over ten years with scant intervention by local law enforcement. The IRS should step in and stop it immediately since no one will on a local level including the do-nothing Nevada Board of Massage Therapy.

The cash bribes are not being reported to the IRS by the transportation drivers, clubs, and the door men who participate in this form of extortion, and our tourists are asked to pay a price far beyond what they bargained for.

It's not known whether the supposed bidders for Rizzolo's bar are aware that they will be targeted by the disreputable transportation drivers and door men the moment they open for business.

Let's not forget that Rizzolo and his hidden partners have a friend in Mayor Oscar Goodman. It wouldn't surprise anyone around here if a buyer was fast tracked into being granted a new liquor license.

The Crazy Horse has grand fathered zoning, and if closed for more than six months, the zoning reverts to the present zoning which prohibits adult use within 1,000 feet of another adult use, and the Crazy Horse is within 1,000 feet of Cheetahs, another strip club.

It usually takes around six months to get a new liquor license approved in Las Vegas, and the Crazy Horse has been dark for seven weeks -- without reported beatings, robberies, or murders for the first time ever. The place was closed down on June 30, 2007, so it will take a big favor from Mayor Goodman to approve anyone in the few months left before the Dec. 31, 2007 deadline on the zoning.

Goodman was Rizzolo's former criminal defense attorney. He got Rizzolo off with a gross misdemeanor in 1985 after he beat a man almost to death with a baseball bat behind the Crazy Horse. (The victim, Rick Sandlin, died three years later of his injuries). Goodman and Rizzolo have been fast friends ever since and Goodman has never stopped doing Rizzolo et. al. favors from behind the scenes at City Hall.

A DECLARATION by an FBI agent contributed to Judge Pro's decision Wednesday to ORDER that the personal assets of Rick and Lisa Rizzolo be seized and liquidated in the event a buyer is not found for the Crazy Horse Too by the deadline of Sep. 30, 2007.

The FBI's continued involvement is greatly appreciated by many in the Las Vegas community.
Real estate experts say that the CH2 property without a liquor license is worth no more than $10 million, especially after a year of bad business and obvious skimming. So it's questionable why any reputable business person would offer between $29 and $34 million for a shuttered bar in a dilapidated converted warehouse with such a horrible national reputation? Do they already know that the LV City Council will fast track a new liquor license to whom ever Rick Rizzolo approves as a buyer? Can anyone say the dreaded words "Straw Man" again to describe what's about to happen?
The Rizzolos, according to Agent Mace, have hidden their liquid assets. New CONTEMPT OF COURT charges should be filed for his hiding of assets after he was supposed to begin paying his debts to society.
I also suggest the IRS immediately seize the contents of Mr. Rizzolo's safety deposit boxes in the cashier's cages of MGM Resorts, the Palms, and Hard Rock casinos where he is known as a "whale."

And isn't it time Rizzolo be inducted into the Nevada Gaming Control Board's Excluded Person List also known as the "Black Book" of persons prohibited from entering casinos? The millions he's known to gamble were derived from racketeering.
Because of Rizzolo's effort to avoid paying the family of beating victim Kirk Henry, or any other debt, on Tuesday at 9 AM, attorney Kim D. Price representing Buffalo Jim Barrier will enter into evidence Agent Mace's DECLARATION in RIZZOLO v. BARRIER. Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez will then decide whether to reverse her May 31 ORDER allowing Barrier to place a $1 million dollar lien on the CH2 property to secure any judgment he may be granted in his upcoming civil harassment lawsuit. Judge Gonzalez will also be asked by Rizzolo's prestigious law firm of Patti & Sgro to dismiss Barrier's lawsuit in its entirety!

If Judge Gonzalez rules in Rizzolo's favor and reverses her ORDER this Tuesday after so much new evidence is available, Barrier, like Kirk Henry, will not be expected to recover his losses from assets that have disappeared.

Here is Agent Mace's fascinating DECLARATION about the Rizzolos hiding their assets:

What the Feds want
(1) The Federal Government  moved U.S. Federal Chief Judge Pro to seize the personal real estate assets of Lisa Rizzolo. These assets are located in Newport Beach, Chicago, and Las Vegas.
(2) The FBI informed the Judge that the 2005 divorce of Rick and Lisa Rizzolo that occurred three weeks after he began plea negotiations, resulted in the possible hiding of assets including five luxury automobiles, a $7.2 million dollar annuity, and $5 million in cash.
(3) The family of Kirk Henry have not been paid one cent from the Rizzolo's personal fortune to cover Kirk's ongoing medical expenses, and that during the time the City Council allowed the Crazy Horse to remain open, sales taxes, employee withholding taxes, and health insurance premiums went missing, and were probably being skimmed along with an unknown amount of cash.
(4) The Government moved that if not sold by Sept. 30, 2007, the Crazy Horse Too real estate along with Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's three homes be forfeited and turned over to E.G. & G. or another Government contractor for immediate liquidation by the U.S. Marshall, and if the Crazy Horse is sold and the property does not bring enough money to satisfy all liabilities, the rest should come from the liquidation of the Rizzolo's personal assets.
It's speculated that one or more of the purported buyers is a shell company designed to disguise La Cosa Nostra investors working at Rizzolo and his hidden partner's behest to prevent the forfeiture of his and his ex-wife's personal assets.

The offer not mentioned

One other offer to purchase the Crazy Horse Too is conspicuously missing from the Federal documents. San Francisco office building developer Luke Brugnara has been attempting to purchase the Crazy Horse for over a year. His top offer was $15 million. 
Brugnara said that he's been stonewalled by Rizzolo's attorneys. Brugnara believes the club is worth only around $10 million, but has offered to pay $15 million without a liquor license. He says he will assume the Nevada Bank loan of $5 million and pay $10 million cash immediately to whatever entity the Court designates. The offer is without contingencies he states.
He calls his offer is "As Is, Where Is." And because there is no liquor license, the words "Caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware) really apply!
Brugnara said any deficiencies can be recovered from the Rizzolo's bank accounts and houses. He claims they were given 12 months to sell the property, and they didn't. Now he claims to be the only all cash AS IS offer, and he is being ignored in favor of "buyers" who want to over pay for a shell of a business with no guarantee they'll get a liquor license (at least not on the surface).
I certainly hope the FBI and Judge Pro are carefully examining who's behind the three purported offers listed in last Wednesday's court documents.
Brugnara describes himself as the son of a law enforcement official and nephew of the former San Francisco Police Chief. His brother and sister in law are reportedly Federal Prosecutors in California -- hardly the type person Rizzolo and his friends (including Mayor Oscar Goodman) would want running a resurrected Crazy Horse Too.
I believe Brugnara is being discounted because he made public statements that he will not cut a secret deal to include Rick Rizzolo in as a silent partner.
Another rejected buyer claims to have been treated unfairly because he also wouldn't cut Rizzolo in as a silent partner. Athanasios Karahalios told INSIDE VEGAS and the Clark County District Court that he was asked to include Rizzolo in as a silent partner along with secretly employing Rick's son Dominic, brother Ralph, and sister Annette as a condition of sale, something that seems to be incumbent in all deals.

Meanwhile, if the "blood and semen stained" joint isn't sold by Sept. 30, it won't matter any longer because the United States will be the new owner of the infamous Crazy Horse Too -- something that should have occurred over a year ago -- and it should never be a strip club again. Then there will finally be an end to this seemingly endless story.

Copyright © Steve Miller

Editor's note: Steve will be the guest on the Lou Epton Radio Program, Monday Aug. 20, from 11 AM - 12 noon, PDT. The program airs daily on KLAV - 1230 AM in Las Vegas, and is heard on the Internet @ Call in numbers are 702-731-1230 or 1-866-820-5528. The subject will include information from this week's INSIDE VEGAS column.

Steve Miller is writing a book about the mob's battle to keep the Crazy Horse open.

* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas' scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs

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