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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:

"Everybody does it!"
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
September 15, 2003

           Check  from Rick Rizzolo deposited by judge on October 31, 2002, during federal RICO investigation

Even damning documents filed recently in District Court that say he's the subject of a joint FBI-Metro criminal investigation fail to have Rizzolo chugging Maalox. Nor is he blushing that activities at his club are the subject of a federal grand jury. - John L. Smith, LV Review Journal, Sunday, October 27, 2002 - four days before the judge deposited her check

LAS VEGAS - Though a federal grand jury was in the midst of a criminal investigation into the Crazy Horse Too strip club and its purported owner, and the story was making top news in the Sunday paper, Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge Jessie Walsh and others had no problem accepting $5,000 checks from the embattled skin merchant in their quests to rise to higher office. Why should they? In Nevada such generous contributions before or after an election are perfectly legal as long as they are reported, and anyway,  nobody had been indicted - yet.

As Judge Walsh stood at the CitiBank teller's window depositing her contribution, the town was buzzing over what the joint FBI-Metro Police investigation might uncover about the judge's most generous benefactor. But the investigation obviously didn't faze the politically ambitious jurist or many other Vegas politicians who have regularly shown up at topless bar mogul Rick Rizzolo's doorstep with their hands extended. Nor did the judge's association with a "person of ill repute" as Rizzolo was later described by Clark County Sheriff Bill Young, hamper Walsh winning the election and stepping up to a seat on the District Court bench. This is Las Vegas, after all.

    Honorable Judge Walsh
Before February 20, 2003, the day the Crazy Horse was raided by 80 FBI and IRS agents, Nevada's Governor, some Las Vegas judges, the District Attorney, Sheriff, Mayor, assorted Clark County Commissioners and several City Council members often went begging to an industry that included at least two men who were about to bring more shame upon our city. Only District Attorney candidate Abbi Silver had the gumption to avoid Rizzolo's largesse and later was criticized for doing so. She also lost the election, her first bid for public office.

    Judge Abbi Silver
Silver initially ran for office last fall against David Roger, the prosecutor in the Ted Binion case and eventual victor for county district attorney. After Roger was criticized for becoming involved with Rizzolo who was facing possible prosecution by the DA's office, Roger agreed to return $45,000 in contributions raised at a fundraiser at Rizzolo's home. Following the election, Roger - as expected - failed to prosecute Rizzolo or his staff for the alleged beating of Kirk Henry along with nine reported assault and six reported robbery cases all involving Crazy Horse Too employees within the past three years.

        David Roger
During the election, Roger shot back by accusing Silver of soliciting money from a Nye County brothel, but his accusation was never proven. Though she lost the election for DA, Silver went on to win a seat on the Municipal Court six months later without help from the adult industry - something that had not easily been accomplished in recent years.

  FBI & IRS raid Rizzolo's business, Feb. 20, 2003 (LV Review Journal photo by Gary Thompson)
Now San Diego is reeling from the revelation that three of the coastal city's councilmen took bundled $250 "campaign contributions" from employees of Rizzolo's Las Vegas competitor Mike Galardi, contributions that paled in size compared to the $5,000 variety commonly doled out by strip clubs in Sin City.
       Mike Galardi                      Rick  Rizzolo
A personal disclosure: I received an unsolicited check for $1,000 from Mr. Rizzolo in 1991 as a contribution to my mayoral campaign. My opponent received a like amount. On the same day we received the checks, my opponent and I both returned the contributions to their sender. Neither one of us desired the association. Since that time, the moral standards of Las Vegas have steadily declined.

Today in what has rightfully become known as Sin City, the well-worn excuse "Everybody does it!" speaks volumes.  For instance, Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge George Assad during the spring 2003 election scavenged two checks for $5,000 each from Galardi and Rizzolo even though the judge was running unopposed.

            Honorable Judge Assad
On January 22, 2003, when the Honorable Judge Assad received the $5,000 from RICBAR LLC, he seemed oblivious to the headlines about his benefactor. He gladly took the check after it had been widely reported eight weeks earlier that former federal prosecutors Stan Hunterton and Don Campbell filed documents with the court alleging Rizzolo condones an "environment that has bred rampant lawlessness. For years, the management and `security' staff of the Crazy Horse has been infested by a rogues' gallery of thugs, thieves, drug pushers, and corrupt ex-cops. Most, if not all, have well-documented ties to organized crime figures who frequent the premises. All of this has nurtured a culture of violence marked by robberies, beatings and even death."

Judge Assad like many others in Las Vegas obviously didn't care about the ongoing federal investigation.

Maybe the nonchalance of local jurists who have for years dipped at the Galardi/Rizzolo trough is the reason Rick Rizzolo's father Bart made the following statement in August 1997: "There has never been a suit filed that we haven't beaten and I'm hoping our record will stay that way."

      Bart Rizzolo
Possibly the same nonchalance inspired a former Vegas City Council member to once refer to Rick Rizzolo as a "Pillar of the Community!" In fast moving Las Vegas, anything is possible.

In the face of federal political corruption investigations in California and Nevada, our state's ridiculously loose political campaign contribution laws and the languid attitude shown by politicians who solicit handouts from persons with shady backgrounds will finally be given long-deserved scrutiny. Hopefully when the dust settles, our town and those who govern it will cease being the laughing stock of the nation.

Copyright © Steve Miller

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