"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. -
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.
Before February 20, 2003, the day the Crazy Horse
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
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.
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.
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
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
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."
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
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com