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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 showdown

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 28, 2006

LAS VEGAS - Days away from three of the biggest showdowns in Vegas history, revenge, political pay offs,
divine intervention, and the mute cry of local citizens has descended on City Hall, the U.S. Federal Court House, and Clark County District Court.

On Wednesday, September 6, the long delayed license revocation hearing for the blood soaked Crazy Horse Too takes place.  Nine days later, the bar's owner, convicted felon Rick Rizzolo goes to U.S. Federal Court to be sentenced. Two days after that, on September 18, Rizzolo will be back in Clark County District Court to pursue
a six year old defamation suit against Buffalo Jim Barrier.


Rizzolo claims that Barrier somehow slandered his good name and defamed his character!

In 2000, Barrier
alleged criminal activity at the Crazy Horse Too. Rizzolo sued Barrier for damaging his reputation.

Six years later in June 2006, Rizzolo pleaded guilty to being involved in criminal activity at the Crazy Horse Too, but ironically he's still vigorously pursuing his defamation case!  His attorneys Dean Patti and Tony Sgro are collecting legal fees for this folly while Barrier's attorney Gus Flangas last week filed a motion to force Rizzolo to pay Barrier's legal fees for having to defend a "frivolous" action. Judge Elizabeth Gonzales will rule on whether to allow the defamation case to move forward on Sept. 18.

If so, Rizzolo may have to testify from behind bars about how Barrier injured his reputation!
Review Journal columnist John L. Smith put it this way in 2000: "Now that he's out to save his good name, we might get a chance to see how much of a man of respect Rick Rizzolo really is."


Where to begin? If there ever was a conflict of interests, its when Rizzolo's former criminal defense attorney-cum-Mayor of Las Vegas Oscar Goodman proclaimed he would vote to let Rizzolo's hair brained father, brother, and sister manage the strip club for a year while they purportedly try to sell the place. Goodman also once defended Albert Rapuano, a Crazy Horse manager. So pay back is the name of the game.

Flash forward. Goodman's current law partner David Chesnoff today is defending another Crazy Horse manager Vinny Faraci who also pleaded guilty to felonies. While the legal fees continue to flow to the firm of Goodman and Chesnoff, a City Councilwoman let out a muted cry to shut the place down before anyone else is maimed or killed. Goodman said NO, and his obedient council often called his "Dwarfs," sat silent with one exception, Ward One Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian.

When it became known that she was going to defy Goodman and move to permanently close the bar at next week's hearing, the Mayor's minions went to work and gerrymandered the Crazy Horse out of Ward One and into the Ward of Goodman's biggest stooge, barber-cum-Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese. Now it will be Reese who will make the motion, but this time it will be to keep the place open -- and expose bar patrons to more beatings and mayhem -- and expose the taxpayers to vast financial liability.

In 2002, another case almost identical to the Crazy Horse saga played out in Federal Court in Georgia. The penalties paid by Steve Kaplan the former owner of the Gold Club in Atlanta, after he was convicted of racketeering, were quite different than those being asked of Rizzolo. Though the Federal court said the Crazy Horse can remain open for a year in order to be sold, the City Council will have the final say on September 6, and at that time should do as was done in Atlanta; close the racketeering enterprise and liquidate Rizzolo's personal assets instead of letting the problem drag on for another potentially dangerous year.

The Council knows it will be pure negligence to
not shutter the Crazy Horse, but they're duped into thinking that beating victim Kirk Henry, and the IRS have no other means to get what they're owed unless the place stays in business long enough to be sold for over $30 million -- enough to pay Henry $10 million; the IRS $ 7 million; and the rest to pay off the first mortgage, capitol gains taxes, and other debts and fines Rizzolo incurred.

Unfortunately, during that time the taxpayers will be exposed to tremendous liability if and when another bar patron is beaten or killed. The City's liability cap of $50,000 can be pierced in the event the City Council is found negligent for allowing a public nuisance to remain in business, and the Crazy Horse has been called a "serious threat" by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Though Rizzolo's attorney Tony Sgro told the Council in July that the club is being monitored by the FBI, additional beatings have occurred. A source inside the club told INSIDE VEGAS that Al Rapuano and Rick Rizzolo have ordered club personnel to not call police under any circumstances, and it appears that the FBI is no longer watching.

Forewarned is forearmed.

There once was an offer on the table for $30 million. It came from San Francisco real estate tycoon Luke Brugnara, but was squelched by Crazy Horse attorney Tony Sgro after he told Rizzolo a deal was about to be struck with the Feds so he could spend a few months in Club Fed, come home, and continue to run the club, i.e., extort customers -- Rizzolo's confessed method of doing business.
Rizzolo's bubble was burst, however, when U.S. Federal Court Chief Judge Philip Pro ruled that he would have to sell the club within a year and never return to the adult business for the rest of his life.

Brugnara left town very unhappy -- saying Rizzolo welched on the deal, and has since cut his offer in half.

Meanwhile, sources inside the Crazy Horse say the club has been sold to a California investor who will keep Rizzolo on as a silent partner, but pledges to otherwise clean house. Brugnara's name was not mentioned as the investor, and from what I know of him, he doesn't like silent partners.


Enter Father Dave Casaleggio, Rizzolo's personal priest.

In the movie "Godfather II," as the music reaches a climax , the chain smoking priest turns and asks
Michael Corleone:

Priest:      "Michael Francis Rizzi (the baby) do you renounce Satan?"
Michael Corleone (Godfather):   "I do renounce him."
Priest:      "And all his works?"
Michael:   "I do renounce them."
Priest:      "And all his pomps?"
Michael:   "I do renounce."
Priest:      "Michael Francis Rizzi, will you be baptized?"
Michael:   "I will."
Priest:      "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit go in peace, and may the Lord be with you."

Interspersed through these scenes are the brutal slayings of all Michael Corleone's enemies. The scenes remind me of Rizzolo's bloodied victims.

This week, Father Dave
Casaleggio lobbied members of the City Council asking they vote to allow the Crazy Horse Too to remain open.

The Reverend is a mutual friend of Rizzolo and the Mayor who before being elected made a fortune defending brutal criminals such as Tony "The Ant" Spilotro. On January 24, 2006, Mayor Goodman appointed the Rev. Casaleggio to the Board of Directors of the Las Vegas Housing Authority.
However, in 1999, it was none other than the Rev. Casaleggio who appeared before the Clark County Commission asking that they not allow a Crazy Horse competitor to convert the former Sporting House fitness club into what is now Sapphire Gentleman's club!

He drove to the commission meeting in his new Lexus, a gift from Rick Rizzolo. There, the Priest proclaimed to be representing the interests of his congregation (which included the Rizzolo family, his attorneys, and a number of Crazy Horse goons). He said his "congregation" objected to another strip club in the area, though Sapphire was one mile farther from his church than the Crazy Horse that expanded the previous year without Father Dave's protestation.

My family regularly worships at Our Lady of Las Vegas, and no one asked the Priest to intervene in this matter.
Following Casaleggio's mysterious appearance before the County Commission, Our Lady of Las Vegas canceled his contract.  Rizzolo's attorneys Dean Patti and Tony Sgro filed a lawsuit on Casaleggio's behalf against the Diocese of Las Vegas, and Casaleggio was temporarily reinstated until his contract expired the next year.

Rev. Casaleggio, once the proud pastor of the city's most prestigious church, is currently a pastor with the Nevada prison system. Maybe there, he can better represent his true congregation -- convicted criminals.

When Rev. Casaleggio departed Our Lady of Las Vegas, Rizzolo, his friends, and family became parishioners at another parish.

Rev. Casaleggio is expected to testify before the Las Vegas City Council on Sept. 6 in favor of allowing the Crazy Horse to remain open, and as a character witness for Rick Rizzolo at his Sept. 15 sentencing. In past years, the Reverend reportedly traveled with Rizzolo to Chicago to be a character witness for another Rizzolo family member about to be sentenced, so he should be quite effective at Rizzolo's sentencing.

Its amazing how some criminals can find salvation each Sunday, then bash heads during the rest of the week!

In all the depraved cases regarding the Crazy Horse Too, including the tragedies suffered by Kirk Henry and Scott David Fau (deceased), untrained bouncers were involved.
Several years ago I interviewed Robert Maddox, a licensed Nevada Private Investigator and expert on club security. Mr. Maddox owned a marshal arts school that specialized in training strip club security guards (bouncers).
He told me he had trained bouncers for the Crazy Horse Too, and that his graduates were proficient in stopping disturbances without other patrons being aware of their actions. Mr. Maddox said his trainees were especially skilled in handling problems through public relations techniques -- using physical force only as a last resort, and with no hesitation to notify Metro when necessary.
However, Maddox also told me that in the case of the Crazy Horse Too, his graduates were fired to facilitate the hiring of friends of the club's owner Rick Rizzolo.
During the wrongful death trial of Scott David Fau, Maddox testified that the current Crazy Horse Too bouncers were "hired by the pound." 

"Security is there to watch and monitor and intervene if something happens," Maddox said. "If security becomes part of the problem, they are defeating the purpose of being there in the first place."

"Allowing the bartender to go outside doesn't settle the situation whatsoever," he testified. "It just continued to aggravate the situation."

Sources tell me that Rick Rizzolo appears to have a "prurient" interest in watching his huge bouncers inflict pain on bar patrons. This was evidenced by his conviction in 1985 for battery with a baseball bat against one of his patrons. The patron died three years later of his injuries. Oscar Goodman was Rizzolo's criminal defense attorney.

The City of New York recently suffered deaths at the hands of untrained and unlicensed bouncers. Based on these tragedies, NYC just passed a new law to cause such persons to register and undergo background checks.
Part of the team expected to be approved to run the Crazy Horse Too during its last year is Rick's brother Ralph Rizzolo.

On February 22, Ralph was arrested for Trafficking in Controlled Substance. He pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to go before a jury on October 10. However, in the interim, an election for Clark County District Attorney took place.

Last week, before the primary election, I predicted that if elected to a second term, D.A. David Roger would immediately plea bargain the felony charge against Ralph Rizzolo down to a misdemeanor.  It took Roger less than 24 hours after hearing of his reelection to do exactly that, and
Ralph Rizzolo didn't even have to be present in court for this to take place. Everything was handled out of court. Now that takes juice!

And they said the Mob left Las Vegas years ago...
During the sentencing of disgraced County Commissioner Dario Herrera in the Operation G-Sting case, U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks stated that Federal witness Michael Galardi was "credible." Galardi, also a strip club owner, testified that Roger returned a $20,000 check Galardi had given him during his first campaign for D.A., fearing the repercussions of taking money from a strip club owner. Galardi then said he paid Roger $20,000 cash so the money could not be traced.

Last week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal posted an excellent full page graphic showing the interconnections between Galardi and a slew of crooked local politicians and power brokers.

During the same election, David Roger also claimed to have returned $40,000 from Rick Rizzolo. With Ralph's Trafficking in Controlled Substance charge taken care of, I predict Rick Rizzolo's former attorney Goodman will on Sept. 6 find Ralph suitable to run (skim) the Crazy Horse Too for another year with his father and sister by his side.
I also predict this will happen even though the U.S. Dept. of Justice on June 1 released a statement saying: "If patrons refused to pay a dancer or disputed charges, the shift manager or other male employees sought to extort payment from them through threats of violence and through the actual use of force." The D.O.J. also said: "This plea allows us to quickly and efficiently accomplish the primary goals of our investigation to remove the current ownership from the Crazy Horse Too strip club," and; "all those involved in its illegal operations to acknowledge some level of responsibility and guilt for its criminal existence."
Ralph, Annette, and Bart Rizzolo were "involved" in the illegal operations. In a moral American city they would surely be found unfit to continue operating a nightclub, but tell that to Goodman and his dwarfs, who with the exception of Councilwoman Tarkanian, will vote on Sept. 6 to keep the place open at any cost!

It's also been attested by several witnesses that when club patrons call police, they are usually the ones arrested, and that police reports are seldom if ever filed.

If the City Council were true public servants with the health and welfare of their constituents at heart, they would vote to close the place thus forcing Judge Pro to liquidate Rick Rizzolo's personal assets to pay the IRS and Henry. 
With his homes in LV and Newport Beach along with bank accounts and the Crazy Horse Too properties in Nevada and Pennsylvania, there is enough to cover his liabilities NOW, not in twelve months after his family has had the chance to continue skimming what is left. Remember, the directors of the corporation pleaded guilty to tax evasion, and that's also known as skimming. That's the only way they know how to make money!

But even Kirk Henry's attorneys want the place to stay open, thinking that way the full $10 million will be raised. It would involve additional litigation to recover bank accounts and real properties Rizzolo transferred to his wife recently in a pseudo divorce, and sometimes lawyers, Federal Prosecutors and Judges take the easy way out.
Meanwhile, the Nevada Commission on Ethics has a complaint pending against Mayor Goodman, filed on July 10, 2006. Its for Goodman's participation in votes to assist his former and present Crazy Horse clients, and because Goodman failed to disclose his ties to Rizzolo until I filed the latest ethics complaint. Since then, he also failed to disclose that his current law partner Chesnoff represents Faraci.

The Ethics Commission continues to sit silently on both complaints, and Goodman is expected to lead the charge to help his law firm's former and current clients next Wednesday no matter the consequences -- he's so popular he knows he'll get away with it!

Even though the sounds of protest should be deafening, in Sin City you can hear a pin drop. The locals are tired of hearing that most of their elected officials are corrupt. Because of this apathy, its finally time to declare victory and identify the true heroes who have undauntedly held their ground though out this painful ordeal.

They deserve a column of their own, so I'll reserve the accolades until next week.

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