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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:

RizzolosGodsonMakesAVideo Rick Rizzolo's Godson Makes A Video
The cause is noble, but the messenger isn't

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 3, 2009

                                    Click on center image to view an amazing video

LAS VEGAS - Convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo's "Mini-Me" surfaced this week on YouTube.

Topless club owner Rick Belcastro, Rizzolo's godson, produced professional quality videos showing him throwing handfuls of $100 bills at swimmers in a Strip hotel pool (at 4:20 into video), smoking a big cigar, talking like a Goodfella, and calling his competitors "jack offs" and "wannabe wise guys." Then he warns Vegas tourists how to avoid getting  ripped off by local cabbies!

In contrast, Belcastro's godfather has been keeping a lower profile than usual lately because he's being sued for $9 million by Kirk Henry, a Kansas tourist who was rendered a quadripoligic at Rizzolo's now-defunct Crazy Horse Too after he disputed an $88 bar tab. Rizzolo agreed to pay Henry in exchange for a light federal prison sentence, but welched on the deal as soon as he was let out in 2008. The ex-con also owes an additional $18 million to the IRS and others, but they're having a hard time collecting because Rizzolo put together a sham divorce and gave his fortune to his wife who promptly hid it off shore.

After his release, Rizzolo tried to return to his extravagant lifestyle that includes entertaining numerous underworld figures, and schmoozing government stooges many of whom Rizzolo wined, dined, and paid off in cash and political campaign contributions for turning their backs on his criminal activities. However, his every move is being monitored and his habit of throwing around cash has infuriated his creditors, so he's rarely seen these days -- at least not in LV. At one time, Rizzolo's stooges included the ex-Orange County Sheriff, prominent Nevada judges, city politicians, and district attorneys, many of whom -- I suspect -- are now on the payroll of another cash-throwing club owner very close to Rizzolo.

Rizzolo and Rocco Lombardo during happier times       Rizzolo and Sheriff Mike Carona        Rizzolo and Elias Ghanem

Meanwhile, Rizzolo's pride and joy Rick Belcastro is addicted to uploading videos of himself talking smack and partying like his mentor.

Sources report that Belcastro, the purported owner of Bada Bing men's club, is a well educated businessman who also manages the doormen at several Strip resorts, and those doormen are instructed to only recommend his bar to casino patrons and offer a free ride. Belcastro is also suspected of having a hidden interest in a limo company that operates black shuttle buses often seen unloading a dozen patrons at a time in front of Bada Bing.

The buses and limos purportedly operated by Belcastro are allowed to cut in front of competing vehicles at certain Strip hotels where he allegedly has doormen on his payroll. This has caused fist fights between selected limo drivers and the cabbies who were cut off when certain doormen summon a certain company's stretch limos and vans to the front of the line to pick up strip club, massage parlor, and swinger's club patrons.

This is what Belcastro alludes to in his video when he brags he doesn't need cabs because "good people" at the hotels send him customers.

The feds are looking into hundreds of millions per year in unreported cash being exchanged between drivers, at least one limo company owner, dozens of doormen, and the extorted adult businesses. The years-old racket involves targeted businesses being forced to bribe drivers up to $100 per passenger delivered to their door, or be boycotted. Doormen, drivers, and transportation company owners share in the bounty, while tourists are gouged to cover the extra unreported expense of doing business in modern day Vegas.

On June 12, 2009, LV Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith wrote: "Behind the scenes, for weeks IRS criminal investigation agents have been looking into the multimillion-dollar cash-for-customers business going on between local strip clubs and hundreds of cab and limousine drivers. Now the IRS is taking its inquiry to the next level by sending out 'request for production of information' letters to some local clubs. One missive dated June 10 states in part, 'This letter is a request for you to provide any and all records, documents, and other information in your possession, or within your control, relating to payments made to cab and limo drivers from (club name redacted) for the years 2004 to the present.' "

On June 5, one week before Smith's column, Belcastro shot the video showing him throwing $100 bills into the swimming pool. Five weeks after Smith's column, Belcastro in his July 20 video bragged about his non-involvement in cabbie payoffs. The timing of both videos is sure to draw the attention of the IRS, but possibly not in the way Belcastro intended.

Rizzolo's now-shuttered topless bar was the first to benefit from the doorman/transportation driver scam. According to sources, Belcastro started his career by controlling the hiring of doormen at several Strip hotels, then he allegedly bought into a limo company. His fortune skyrocketed when those limos began delivering passengers exclusively to the Crazy Horse Too.

       Ghosts of Crazy Horse Too (Photos taken July 6, 2008, one year after its closure)

The owner of the suspect limo company contacted INSIDE VEGAS to deny Belcastro was/is his silent partner, but further information recently surfaced involving the alleged connection. (Notice the big black bus in front of Bada Bing shown on several of Belcastro's videos.) If my sources are correct, Belcastro's involvement in the highly regulated transportation industry is not registered with the Nevada Transportation Authority as required by law.

In December 1998, Rizzolo, with the help of a crooked city councilman, called club owners together for a Summit Meeting to supposedly try to persuade them to stop paying off transportation drivers. They met at the former Pizzeria Uno on West Sahara and made a pact that all complied with until seven months later when business fell off at the Crazy Horse and Rizzolo was the first to re-initiate the practice. Since then, it's estimated that over a billion unreported dollars have changed hands.
When it was revealed through an undercover investigation by former KVBC TV investigative reporter Darcy Spears that Rizzolo was again paying off transportation drivers, the other clubs immediately resumed the illegal practice, and it's continued to escalate to the present day full fledged extortion racket. On September 5, 2007, a local business owner who depends on attracting tourists to his off-Strip location, wrote a two page letter to the Fraud Division of the Internal Revenue Service. In June 2009, INSIDE VEGAS obtained and published an exclusive copy of the redacted letter, and the federal government investigation began weeks later.

Meanwhile, the Nevada Taxi Authority turned their backs saying it was up to the Las Vegas City Council and Clark County Commission to enforce against the privileged business license holders who violate the city, county, and state laws. Mayor Oscar Goodman and his City Council did nothing, possibly based on a $40,000 campaign contribution Goodman took from Rizzolo. The then-governor vetoed legislation meant to stop the practice after hundreds of cabs blocked the Strip and threatened to shut down the airport.

Company owners did nothing, even after their property was used without permission. Many owners consider the pay offs as salary supplements so they can avoid having to pay their often non-citizen drivers a living wage and benefits.
Serious conflicts have occurred after certain limos were summoned out of order in the queue and called to the front of the line. For this reason, some cab drivers are protesting the doormen's actions by boycotting Belcastro's club inspiring his latest video and name calling, while a certain group of limo drivers get all the fares to extorted businesses and their transportation company bosses split the money with doormen, and give the drivers a small cut.

And we are asked to believe that only one club, Bada Bing, is not in on the scam?

It's also believed that the management of hotels where the involved doormen work are not aware of what is going on, or are looking the other way. One of the biggest rumors floating around Sin City is that Rick Belcastro's sister is the "Whale lady" at several Strip hotels. If true, being in such a position would grant her special privileges such as hiring her brother to run the front doors. Whale hosts draw the million dollar credit line players and provide them with anything they desire to keep them playing. In other words, casinos are known do anything they must -- legal or illegal -- to keep their whales happy.

Belcastro's godfather is a known whale and is well known at the casinos where Belcastro's sister is alleged to work. He's also rumored to have a hidden interest in Bada Bing, though Belcastro in his latest video -- three times -- exclaims loudly that he is the owner! Rizzolo is also suspected of stashing large sums of cash in casino cage safety deposit boxes, something that inspired Kirk Henry's attorneys to subpoena safe deposit box access records from several Strip hotels.

For his being able to rise almost instantly from humble hotel doorman to Vegas strip club mogul and articulate YouTube spoksman for our tourist industry, Rick Rizzolo deserves credit for teaching his "Mini-Me" well. But I hope no one else suffers the fate of Kirk Henry based on his mentoring.

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