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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:

Vince Piazza cooperates in
the Rizzolo Federal Case
Transfers $465,864 to beating victim Kirk Henry
Rizzolo's step mom sued for laundering $789k
And Lisa Rizzolo may be left holding the bag

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 29, 2011

LAS VEGAS - Vince Piazza, the prominent Philadelphia businessman and father of Major League hitter Mike Piazza, probably regrets the day he met Vegas racketeer Rick Rizzolo.

Back in 2004, Vince Piazza and Rizzolo teamed up to build a Crazy Horse Too strip club in Philly. By that time in history, Rizzolo had secured his reputation as a low level member of Vegas and Chicago organized crime, and was becoming infamous for having his goons beat and rob his Vegas topless bar customers. With Rizzolo's story becoming front page news, it was more than obvious Piazza knew exactly who he was crawling into bed with.

But Vince Piazza is a pillar of the community and a highly successful businessman in The City of Brotherly Love where the Piazza Auto Group operates 11 new car dealerships. He obviously didn't need any bad press in his town when he introduced Philadelphia's movers and shakers to Rick Rizzolo and his Vegas style of operating a "gentleman's club."

According to an article titled "Naked Ambition" in the October 2006 edition of Philadelphia Magazine, the partnership caused quite a stir:

"In the end, it was an unlikely pillar of the community, not the Vegas crew, that was responsible for Crazy Horse Too's arrival — Vince Piazza, father of San Diego Padres catcher Mike Piazza, the pride of Norristown. Vince is owner of the Piazza Auto Group and now, he says, sole proprietor of Crazy Horse Too. As Piazza tells it, in 2004 a third party approached Rizzolo with land and a liquor license, and Rizzolo called Piazza to facilitate the deal. Sources say the two are paisans, but considering Rizzolo's reported links to organized crime, and Piazza's reported $7 million settlement in a defamation suit against Major League Baseball after comments implying similar ties of his own, Piazza bristles when Rizzolo's name is mentioned.

'Rick is not a friend, just a business associate,' says Piazza, who met Rizzolo during his son's stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 'This is not my type of business. I positioned this to get it done, build it, and sell it.' Piazza won't discuss who might take over the club.

And so Crazy Horse Too's identity crisis continues: It's the Vegas Strip among the tumbleweeds of Columbus Boulevard, with girls from the neighborhood working next to seasoned vets, and car-dealership tycoons mingling with felons. Most troubling for the club, the locals haven't warmed up to its business model yet, which could change when new owners — a.k.a. The Devil You Don't Know — take over."

On March 25, 2008, Rizzolo sold his 33.3% share of the Philadelphia club to Piazza for $3 million dollars, Rizzolo tried to conceal the proceeds from his creditors including beating victim Kirk Henry and the IRS.

The Philadelphia Crazy Horse Too was purchased in April 2008 by Rick's Cabaret International, Inc. (no relation to Rizzolo).

Rizzolo asked Piazza to transfer $789,000 of his proceeds to his late father Bart Rizzolo as a purported loan repayment, and asked Piazza to pay future payments to an off shore trust held by Rizzolo's ex-wife Lisa.

After learning of the payment arrangement from interrogatories of Piazza, Henry's attorneys aggressively went after the Philadelphia funds, and on August 16, 2011 received an electronic transfer of $465,864 from Piazza's Bank of America account being held for Lisa Rizzolo. The money was sent to Henry's trust account only after his attorneys filed a Motion in Federal Court to have Piazza charged with Contempt of Court if he withheld the money against court orders (see Exhibit 1 below).

Exhibit 1:

Now the balance of money owed to Rizzolo will go directly to the Henrys thanks to the less-than-enthusiastic cooperation of Piazza. However, $789,000 of the sale proceeds wrongly ended up in the hands of Kim Tran Rizzolo, the widow of Rick's late father who passed away on March 19, 2010. This has led to a Federal law suit filed against Kim Tran to recover the money before it might get passed on to Rick or Lisa Rizzolo. (see Exhibit 2 below).

Exhibit 2:

Including the $789,000 sought to be returned by Kim Tran, the total Kirk Henry is expected to receive from the Piazza sale is $1,254,864 in the near future, leaving approximately $1,745,136 to be received in payments from Piazza within the next two years -- money that RIck and Lisa Rizzolo never intended go to creditors.

In addition to the Philly club proceeds, on August 4, 2011, Rizzolo's 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL65 BiTurbo V12 was seized by Las Vegas Constables on behalf of Henry. The car is expected to fetch between $40,870 and $47,270 at auction according to the Kelly Blue Book.

Rizzolo's attorneys quickly protested in Clark County District Court, but failed to recover their client's car.

08/04/2011 9:00 AM
Argument by Mr. Carvalho stating the Defendant (Rick Rizzolo) is willing to deposit the title of the car with the clerk of the court until the 18th and further stated the only issue before the court today is whether Plaintiff is entitled to take the car before the hearing on the 18th. Defendant is willing to submit to any order; he needs his car to drive. Opposition by Mr. Rabenhorst (Kirk Henry's Attorney) that the Defendant has been moving assets between himself and his wife; Judge Pro said that the money was to go to the Henry's and Plaintiff has not seen any of it. The only discoverable asset is his 2005 Mercedes. Court stated, procedurally this is a very unique case; as to the Bond issue, the court is not sure this is not a Rule 31 prejudgment writ of attachment; the parties self-adjudicated their rights and there is an adjudication for all purposes due to the $10,000,000 settlement. Colloquy regarding the possibility of the Defendant transferring the car without the approval of Judge Pro. Argument by Mr. Rabenhorst that defendant's compliance with the Federal order is non-existent and any representations to his good faith are non-existent. Following further arguments by counsel, COURT stated its findings and ORDERED motion DENIED.

In relation to the $10 million plus interest in court ordered restitution Rizzolo agreed to pay Henry for injuries he suffered in 2001 at the hands of a Vegas Crazy Horse Too manager, the car proceeds along with the money from the Philly club sale will cover less than a fourth of what Henry is owed thereby opening the door for the Federal Court to force Lisa Rizzolo to repatriate what is estimated to be around $10 to $12 million in cash and assets she's hiding for her ex-husband in the Cook Islands.

Lisa's three homes; one in Las Vegas, one in Chicago, and a third in Newport Beach, California could also be attached in order to cover debts her ex-husband agreed to pay in exchange for an abbreviated prison sentence. She was married to Rick during his years of racketeering, and enjoyed the fruits of his criminal acts. In a community property state like Nevada, an ex- wife can be held liable for her ex-husband's debts in the event they were married during the time the debts were incurred.

The U.S. Court also opened the door for Henry's attorneys to proceed with a Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act case against the Rizzolos in the event Lisa does not volunteer to transfer her hidden assets back to the U.S. to pay the balance owed to Henry. The couple also owe an additional $11,973,440.31 million in back taxes, penalties, court costs, and interest to the IRS.

U.S. Judge Pro gave Kirk Henry priority over the IRS in a recent court action, so the Henry's must be paid first.

While this is going on, Rick Rizzolo is scheduled to return to Federal Prison on Sept. 14 to begin serving an additional 9 months for parole violations.

Presently, Lisa Rizzolo and Kim Tran Rizzolo have not been charged with any crimes, but their fates remain uncertain based on whether they wish to fight the Federal Court and Kirk Henry's attorneys to try to keep possession of Rick's ill-gotten stash of money and assets.

Now that the courts have lost their patience, the Rizzolos continue to spend good money after bad on high priced attorneys unsuccessfully trying to reverse the decisions of the Federal Court. As an example, Rick's legal team led by Dominic Gentile on August 4, 2011 filed a failed Motion in a lower court trying to get a Clark County Judge to rule in opposition to Federal Judge Pro, and order that Rizzolo not be held responsible for paying Henry's remaining restitution of $9 million plus interest.

The court ruled in Henry's favor.

08/19/2011 3:00 AM
After a review and consideration of the points and authorities on file herein, and the argument of counsel, Plaintiff’s (Kirk Henry's) Motion to Reduce Settlement to Judgment is hereby GRANTED. The Court finds that the wording of the Agreement accurately memorializes the intention of the parties, that once the funds from the sale of the Crazy Horse Too Gentlemen's Club are exhausted, Defendant Rizzolo is responsible for the remaining payment of the settlement between himself and Plaintiffs (emphasis added). The Court does not find persuasive the argument by Defendants that the sale of the Power Company, Inc., is a condition precedent to reducing the settlement to judgment. The sale of the Power Company, Inc. is impossible because it no longer legally exists.

Rizzolo's attorneys argued that the sale of the Crazy Horse Too property in Las Vegas to Abraham Assil, a prominent member of the Persian Jewish community in Beverly Hills, did not qualify as a "sale" because the defunct business "The Power Company, Inc." was not included in the sale.

But the sale to an outsider was probably the last thing Rizzolo, et. al. wanted. Assil is not a paisano like Piazza, or Rizzolo's Vegas crew who have dreamed of reopening the club.

Here's how Assil was described in the Jewish Daily Forward: “Iranian Jews are still very insular after 30 years." "Iranian Jews prefer to do business with Iranian Jews.”

That said, no one is expecting Abraham Assil to follow Vince Piazza's lead and crawl into bed with Rizzolo or his "paisans." So the days of Rizzolo's "business model" are a thing of the past since July 2007 when the Vegas Crazy Horse Too was shut down and soon thereafter lost it's adult use zoning.

"Rizzolo is slowly being picked apart. All the pain and suffering he has caused for others is finally catching up to him," according to one of Rizzolo's victims who asked to remain anonymous.

On July 28, 2011, Rick Rizzolo's attorneys filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asking for a reversal of the majority of U.S. Judge Pro's rulings. However, few court observers expect the appeal to succeed especially since this is Rizzolo's fifth appeal of rulings made in this decade old case, and all his previous Ninth Circuit appeals have been denied or thrown out.

The next step in this case is for the U.S. Court to hold Lisa Rizzolo in Contempt if she refuses to repatriate her and her ex-husband's off shore accounts per paragraphs 9 & 10 of Judge Pro's SPECIAL CONDITIONS OF SUPERVISION issued on July 21, 2011:

Kim Tran Rizzolo may also find herself in Federal Court facing a Contempt charge if she refuses to voluntarily transfer the $789,000 Philadelphia Crazy Horse Too payment back to Kirk Henry's trust account immediately.

Because Rick returns to prison on September 14, he's not expected to be present in court if or when Lisa or Kim Tran Rizzolo are charged with Contempt.  If this happens, it looks like Rick may leave one or both women holding the bag.

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