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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:

Bad lawyering
There has got to be a way to get back at people who file lawsuits."
"There has never been a suit filed that we haven't beaten and I'm hoping our record will stay that way.  - Bart Rizzolo on Camille Fau's wrongful death lawsuit, LV Sun, 8/1/1997

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 27, 2007


(L. to R.) Attorney Dean Patti assists Mayor Oscar Goodman at a hearing to permit
teenage girls to strip in city topless bars. Attorney Tony Sgro with Vinny Faraci and
Bart Rizzolo during 2003 FBI raid of Crazy Horse ( photo by Mike Christ).

LAS VEGAS - This has been a bad week for imprisoned racketeer Rick Rizzolo.

In last week's INSIDE VEGAS, I disclosed FBI Special Agent Anthony Mace's DECLARATION telling of Rizzolo's success in hiding personal assets. On Sunday, the LV Sun reported "
Crazy Horse Too owner's millions eluding the feds. Strip club owner's ex-wife does well in divorce settlement."

Tuesday, the Sun Editorial "Get tough with Rizzolo," opined that Rizzolo's personal assets should be forfeited to pay his judgments, especially the $9 million plus $86,000 in interest he still owes beating victim Kirk Henry, in the event the Crazy Horse does not sell or sells for less than what he owes. Tuesday's Review-Journal column by John L. Smith reverberated, "Incarcerated topless bar mogul faces deadline to sell Crazy Horse Too."

Then after much prodding, the City of Las Vegas last week finally got around to asking the U.S. Federal Court to collect the taxpayer's two million dollar fine from Rizzolo. After his conviction for racketeering and tax evasion in 2006, the City Council fined him $2,192,000, but made no effort to collect until last week after learning of his hiding assets. Now, another $2+ million dollars has officially been added to other claims against the Rizzolo's personal fortune totaling around $28 million to date including the following lien.

On Tuesday, Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzales agreed with Buffalo Jim Barrier's attorneys Gus Flangas and Kim Price of the Flangas McMillan Law Group and upheld her decision allowing Barrier to place a $1 million dollar lien on the shut down topless bar. On Wednesday, the LV Review-Journal headline blared, "Judge rules against Rizzolo. Imprisoned strip club owner ordered to put $1 million in escrow." (Check out reader's comments below article.)

Thursday at 2 PM, Barrier reported that U. S. Department of Justice Deputy Leonard Briskman, Deputy Chief for Business Management, U.S. Marshall's Service, Asset Forfeiture Office, Washington, D.C. and several of his deputies visited the jinxed Crazy Horse Too property.
While there, Deputy Briskman interviewed Barrier in his next door auto repair facility. According to Barrier, the agents questioned him about his lease which has two years remaining, the amount of rent, and to whom he pays his rent. On Friday, John L. Smith mentioned the visit in his Review-Journal column, "Feds are still nosing around the Crazy Horse Too."

How did Rick Rizzolo end up in even bigger trouble after being convicted of racketeering and tax evasion?

Crazy Horse attorneys Dean Patti and Tony Sgro of the prestigious firm Patti & Sgro were always seen standing
by their biggest client's side through thick and thin. But now after his convenient divorce, conviction, and questions about hidden assets, when cases involving Rizzolo come before a judge, one of their junior partners shows up ill-prepared and invariably loses.

It all began when Rick and Lisa Rizzolo hired the same attorney, Dean Patti, to handle their hastily planned 2005 divorce three weeks after Rick began his plea negotiations with the Feds and two years after Kirk Henry filed his attempted murder lawsuit.
The divorce was held in the court of the Honorable Steven Jones (mug shot on left). Family Court Judge Jones has himself been in trouble lately for allegedly beating up his girlfriend, so he can surely empathize with Mr. and Mrs. Rizzolo's dilemma.

I believe Patti concocted a scheme to allow the Rizzolos to hide their assets and the honorable judge went along. The scheme involved a straw man to fool the Federal Judge and City Council into letting the bar stay open for an extra year so it could purportedly be sold. During that time, the Rizzolos would transfer or hide their assets while the Crazy Horse was being skimmed to death. The straw man's attorney was Mayor Oscar Goodman's law partner Jay Brown who is alleged to have ties to organized crime.

The straw man's activities would eventually be revealed, but only after millions in cash and unpaid sales and payroll taxes were missing along with employee's health insurance premiums. In the meantime, the Rizzolos had enough time to hide away their cash, and refinance all their holdings to capture the equity and take it out of the country.

It would now be prudent for the Federal Government to immediately go to the MGM,
Caesars Palace, and Palms casino cages, and open Rizzolo's safety deposit boxes before he can have them emptied.

When you examine all this weirdness, it makes you wonder who's the mastermind behind such nonsense? Who would have let such a fortune slip from his fingers while his family's name is dragged through the mud? Enter Bartholomew Rizzolo, the 70s something
patriarch of the Rizzolo clan.

The following may give you some insight about the elder Rizzolo's psyche.

In the affidavit of Robert L. Westphal, it states: "I am an owner and operator of a business, located at 2201 Industrial Road, Las Vegas, Nevada, known as Don and Lee's Trim Shop, an awning contractor business." "That the patrons of Crazy Horse Too scatter trash and garbage consisting of greeting cards of the dancers, used condoms, drug paraphernalia consisting of used needles and empty 'baggies,' discarded beer bottles, liquor glasses and pornography of various types. Recently, I arrived at my business to find my parking lot again, particularly soiled with the above items. I went to the Crazy Horse Too and spoke with Bart Rizzolo. I asked if be would send someone to my property to clean my parking lot. Mr. Rizzolo refused to do so. I told him I would sweep it up and bring it down to Crazy Horse Too and dump it out. He replied that, if I did, he would 'blow my f---ing head off.'"

This is the same Bart Rizzolo who failed to show up at his son's sentencing, but was in court last week to try to fend off Barrier's million dollar lien. Also, while the Crazy Horse sits dark and his son rots in prison, Bart is seen at the shuttered bar on a daily basis cleaning the place and bragging that it's about to reopen.

Bart's words at the top of this column may be about to come back to haunt him. The widow of long haul trucker Scott David Fau has secured a new attorney and is expected to take her failed wrongful death case to Federal Court in the near future.

Judge Nancy M. Saitta,
one of Rizzolo's close friends, presided over the botched 2003 wrongful death trial and was accused of killing Mrs. Fau's chances by advising the jury they could not consider blunt force trauma as Scott Fau's cause of death even though he was seen being kicked in the head by Crazy Horse bouncers several hours before he died.

After the trial, Mrs. Fau, a school teacher, and her three daughters went back to California. Saitta went on to win a seat on the Nevada Supreme Court -- no doubt with Rizzolo's help. Now, with Rizzolo in prison for hurting other Crazy Horse patrons, there is new life in the Fau case, and Bart may be made to eat his words -- again.

Also, with Saitta out of District Court, Patti & Sgro's personal judge is no longer available to sit on every case involving Rizzolo, and their winning streak is over, evidenced by the recent rulings of U.S. Federal Court Chief Judge Philip M. Pro who last week ordered that the Rizzolo's personal assets can be seized, and evidenced by Clark County District Court Judge Gonzales who last week ruled that Barrier could keep his million dollar lien in effect to secure any judgment in the event he wins his 2002 harassment law suit against Rizzolo.

But, along with Judge Jones, Rizzolo has one more friend left on the District Court bench. The Honorable Jackie Glass. Judge Glass is married to LV City Councilman Steve Wolfson who in April said this about the twice-bankrupt straw man who was to stand in for Rizzolo as the operator of the Crazy Horse:
"Mr. Signorelli has been in town for many, many years, and there's not been one blemish against his record." "He's a respected businessman who offered evidence of his good credit with financial institutions."

At the time of his statement, Wolfson was aware that Signorelli was the subject of a class action lawsuit for allegedly bilking his employees our of their health insurance premiums at a bankrupt casino he once owned in Mesquite.

Soon after her husband made his complimentary statement, Judge Glass ruled that Kirk Henry's attorneys could not audit Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's personal assets in order to find the funds to pay their client's ongoing medical bills..

Incidentally, after Councilman Wolfson made his statement about Signorelli -- a statement quoted in the LV Sun and on live TV --
Wolfson's words were suddenly expunged from the transcript of the Council hearing.

It was later rumored that in exchange for the favor, Rizzolo's former criminal defense attorney Mayor Oscar Goodman referred a number of high paying clients to the law firm of Wolfson and Glass, but I have not been able to confirm this information.

Now, two out of three judges handling Rizzolo-related-cases have had enough of the games and subterfuge. After reading Special Agent Mace's DECLARATION, Judge Pro ORDERED that the Crazy Horse be sold by no later than September 30, and then Judge Gonzales upheld Barrier's lien. Judge Glass is the only exception.

But this may not be the end of the story.

Judge Pro hastily approved three potential buyers for the Crazy Horse property. But does he really know who he approved?

Are one or more of the bidders "Mr. Clean Faces" to be placed before the Federal Court and City Council by La Cosa Nostra interests who will do almost anything to retain control of the lucrative criminal enterprise.
It also signals that City Hall will probably fast track a liquor license to one of them if asked. Councilman Wolfson would probably vote to approve along with Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian who's husband Jerry attended Rick Rizzolo's Farewell Party at 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 the City Attorney. The straw man proceeded to skim the Crazy Horse dry while Council members Tarkanian and Wolfson looked the other way.

However, when Signorelli's deal fell through, both politicians were left with egg on their face.
Based on past performance, this City Council would probably again vote to grant almost anyone a liquor license to operate the Crazy Horse if the applicant was a client of the Goodman Law Firm. I would not be surprised if all three of the corporations listed below have already received preliminary approval from the City to operate a resurrected Crazy Horse Too. 
Any of the ridiculous amounts of money the three corporations supposedly are offering for the shuttered strip joint will more than cover Rizzolo's legal obligations. The excess above market value is irrelevant because it will probably be returned to the same LCN interests who have operated the Crazy Horse since the 1980's.

I've been doing some checking up on the three bidders. I cannot substantiate why any reputable business entity would pay up to three times the market value of a converted warehouse without a liquor license in the seediest part of Las Vegas, especially one with a horrible national reputation. Also, there is no evidence that any of the bidders have experience in the strip club industry, a prerequisite for owning such a business.

The top bidder ($34 million) is from New Jersey, Bart Rizzolo's home state.
My NJ sources have never heard of the company nor its CEO.

The second bidder ($31.5 million) is from near Rizzolo's second home -- Newport Beach in Orange County, California. The address appears to be a P.O. box.

License information from records of the California Department of Real Estate, 8/26/2007 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
License Type: CORPORATION 
Name: The Mortgage Broker Inc. 
Mailing Address: 1648 S CLEMENTINE ST, ANAHEIM, CA 92802-2901
License ID:  01524903 
Expiration Date: 08/20/10 
License Status: LICENSED NBA (no broker affiliation) 
Corporation License Issued: 08/21/06 (Unofficial -- taken from secondary records)
Licensed Officer(s):  DESIGNATED OFFICER
01171858 - Expiration Date: 08/20/10
Garcia, Marcus A
CANCELED AS OF 05/07/07 

The third bidder ($29 million) is from Las Vegas, but little is known of him or his firm other than he owns several houses in Henderson.

I certainly hope Judge Pro in respect to the late Scott Fau and Rick Sandlin sees through this transparent scam and seizes the clip joint by September 30, then tears it down and auctions the land before anyone else is maimed or killed.

The difference between what the forfeiture sale will bring and the amounts owed to Kirk Henry, IRS, the City, and Buffalo Jim Barrier, should come from the seizure and auction of Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's three houses and personal assets if they can ever be located thanks to Dean Patti and Tony Sgro.

Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nov. 13, 2001, attorney Tony Sgro,
left, argues in favor of a gag order against columnist Steve Miller. At right are attorneys Dowon Kang, Chris Rasmussen and Gus Flangas, who opposed the request. After Tom Mitchell, the Editor of the Review-Journal, and two attorneys for the ACLU sat down in the back of Judge Saitta's court, she reluctantly denied Sgro's motion and let Miller continue reporting on violent events at the Crazy Horse Too.  (Photo by Gary Thompson)          

No wonder Patti & Sgro  are keeping their distance lately when Rizzolo's fortune is challenged in the courts. Maybe they're complicit in an illegal money hiding scheme, and fear being disbarred or jailed for their involvement.

Copyright © Steve Miller

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