| Home | Books and Gifts | Photo Album | Mob Busters | Mafia Site Search |
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:

Paid Off Vegas Politicians Celebrate
Treasures closed.  Building may go up for grabs

"We're not putting other sexually oriented businesses on trial. I don't
know that our industry is that big of a problem."-- Councilwoman Janet Moncrief *

INSIDE VEGAS - by Steve Miller
September 20, 2004

I tried to warn them. All my INSIDE VEGAS articles about their dilemma were hand delivered to the Davari brothers, owners of Treasures Gentleman's Club.

On June 21, I wrote: "If I've ever seen a set up in the works, this is it!" "After $30 million dollars was invested in a palatial building, the bar became a roaring success to the dismay of its nearby competitors along with certain city fathers who would not even permit it to have a proper sign. In the meantime, word was that competitors planted girls at Treasures to purposely break the law and get caught."

I went on to warn, "You can't legally single out a business that promises to set a standard higher than that of its competitors, competitors including one infamous topless bar only a few blocks away that's being investigated by the FBI and IRS for extortion, tax evasion, prostitution, credit card fraud, coercion, racketeering and mayhem -- a business that nonetheless is not under scrutiny by the City Council. A dangerous new standard will be set if a broken promise is the basis for... the shutting down of a prosperous business and putting its building up for grabs."

But that's not all. Three weeks earlier another forewarning INSIDE VEGAS article was hand delivered to the Davaris stating, "The city government in 2001 begrudgingly granted a temporary liquor license to Ali and Hassan Davari, the controversial owners of strip clubs in Texas. Not knowing they would only be granted a temporary license, the brothers invested over $30 million in a palatial structure now called Treasures located within the Las Vegas city limits. Within weeks of its opening, City Code Enforcement Officers were obediently crawling all over the place finding all manner of fault from solicitation for prostitution, to dance code violations. Meanwhile, the Crazy Horse Too, a nearby competitor with strong local political connections, was -- with impunity -- ripping off customer's credit cards and reportedly beating up or crippling those who refused to sign bogus charge slips."

But, no one paid attention.

Now the Treasures building is dark and the action that brought it about is being hailed at City Hall and in the plush office of a nearby competitor.

The Davaris were sold out by their choice of attorneys. Of all people, they chose Ross Goodman and Mark Fiorentino. Fiorentino represents developers regularly in front of the City Council -- a lawyer who needs to stay in the good graces of the Mayor and certain Councilmembers.

And then there's Ross Goodman, the son of Mayor Oscar Goodman. Before being elected in 1999, Oscar made his fortune defending persons presently involved with the blood-soaked Crazy Horse Too, Treasures' nearest competitor. Ross is following in his father's footsteps. Why the Davaris chose this conflicted duo is anyone's guess.
      Mark Fiorentino                 TEXAS lawyer Paul Nugent, left, confers with
                                             Treasures strip club owner David Ali Davari during
                                             a Las Vegas City Council hearing.
                                             MATTHEW MINARD / LAS VEGAS SUN

The day of the license hearing, I knew something was wrong when I noticed an empty Council chambers. The gallery should have been stuffed to the ceiling with the families of the 300 Treasures employees who were about to lose their jobs. During my years on the Council, I can't remember a time when employees threatened with losing their jobs ever avoided a chance to plead their case to public officials. This time I expected to also see a dozen or more speakers lined up at the podium, but as if they had been told to stay home so as not to offend anyone, no employees were present. The only ones to speak in Treasures' defense were Mr. Fiorentino and the the club's private investigator.

I'm no fan of the Davaris. God knows they've had their problems over the years. But I believe in justice, and what I witnessed Wednesday was far from it.

Mark Fiorentino was expected to compare Treasures with the Crazy Horse Too where people are regularly beaten and robbed. But instead he tried to stay friends with the Mayor and Council by later saying "I was trying to respect the integrity of the process."

While Fiorentino was "trying to respect the integrity of the process," he missed his only opportunity to compare his client's business to another that is "way out in left field..." ...out of control..." as was stated after the hearing by Private Investigator Tom Dillard who came prepared to expose the sins of certain other clubs. If he had, the Council would have been hard pressed to take the arbitrary action they did.

Several weeks before the license hearing, a representative of Treasures obtained a copy of the August 8, 2004 edition of DATELINE NBC. Newspapers speculated that Fiorentino was preparing to expose the biggest disgrace Las Vegas has experienced in recent history, the national TV coverage of the beating of Kirk Henry at the Crazy Horse Too. He was expected to show the entire bloody episode to the Council to prove there are far worse crimes going on just down the street at a club that is "out of control," a club that somehow remains immune from City scrutiny.

Days after requesting the DATELINE tape, the same Treasures representative obtained a copy of a video of Mayor Goodman responding "I did not see that" when asked if he had watched the DATELINE episode even though a videotape of the episode was hand delivered to him three days before he made his statement.

Goodman obviously doesn't have the guts to close down his former clients and stop the bloodshed. In the meantime, City Attorney Brad Jerbic, City Director of Business Activity Jim DiFiorie, and LVMPD Detective Stacy Rodd obediently scrutinized only Treasures which had half as many arrests as the Crazy Horse during the same time period.

Before the hearing, pundants wondered what embarrassment Fiorentino might be conjuring up for his friends on the Council? But alas, nothing embarrassing -- or effective -- was about to happen in defense of his clients. He didn't "fall on his sword" as many expected, and for not doing so, today Mark Fiorentino is still in good standing with the Mayor and Council for his self serving respect for "the integrity of the process." Meanwhile, the Davaris have hired new counsel and are contemplating their next move.

"Integrity of the process?" What process? This was a clear cut case of one topless bar owner wanting to squelch competition through the use of his juice with the Mayor and a Councilmember who have ties to the Crazy Horse. It was also a scheme to steal a beautiful building for fifty cents on the dollar, but no one wanted to listen.

On September 10, I stated in my daily E-Brief (also hand delivered to the Davaris), "If the license revocation of Treasures fails, Oscar's former clients at CH2 are expected to order him to (mis)use eminent domain to get rid of Buffalo Jim Barrier so they can expand their blood-soaked business in its present location. Our popular Mayor is expected to thumb his nose at the bad press and obediently do the bidding of his former clients, the guys who made him rich, and start the eminent domain process purportedly to make way for the widening of Industrial Rd. But that may all be moot after the feds hand down their indictments against his former clients, something expected before the first of the year."

To make matter worse, Fiorentino opened the hearing by saying "I hope you don't challenge me today to find out if these offenses are unique to Treasures," while Ross Goodman sat silently behind the Davaris in the empty audience. His father had just exited to avoid a conflict of interest.

Such a "challenge" could have resulted in the salvation of Fiorentino, Treasures, and the club's employees. However, he opted not to open up the subject of selective prosecution, a subject that would have been easy to prove and could have brought far different results. He also didn't address the amount of taxes the 26,000 square foot business generated for the City.

Though he certainly would have offended some on the Council -- especially the Mayor -- Fiorentino could nonetheless have opened the giant can of worms in defense of his clients and done the community a favor by officially exposing the mayhem at the Crazy Horse for the first time during a public hearing.

He could have argued that the Council can't legally single out a business just for making promises it couldn't keep. In fact, the only reason the council gave in and granted the Davaris a temporary license in the first place was allegedly to avoid offending the man who was selling the land to the brothers, Presidential Advisor and local king maker Sig Rogich. Its a well known fact that nobody in local government would dare offend the powerful Sig R. The rumor is that Treasures' license was granted so the sale of Sig's property could go through, and because the timid Councilmembers knew they couldn't win a future election without Sig's approval.

In 2004, Mr. Rogich had reportedly been paid the majority of his money and the Treasures building secures the balance, so it was obviously open season on the Davaris with no repercussions expected from Rogich and Company.

But by their actions in 2001, the Las Vegas City Council had complicity in creating the problem that inspired last Wednesday's special hearing.

They forced a business to make a promise that on its face was unconstitutional, a promise that could not be kept given that any large gathering of people will create infractions of law whether it be at a park, concert, school, or church.

Several members of the Council on Wednesday acknowledged that a promise to close if even one misdemeanor conviction occurred was an unreachable goal, but members of the same Council made just such an agreement in 2001 to help Rogich. Now the Council was holding someone other than themselves totally responsible for their own board's self serving actions in 2001, actions that at the time included testimony from the Mayor who blasted the Davaris prior to his son going to work for them.

Then, though Goodman had recused, his earlier words were extensively quoted by the City Attorney at Wednesday's hearing to further doom the Davaris, while Fiorentino stood silent lodging no objection.

In respect to the "integrity of the process," at the opening of Wednesday's hearing, Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese announced that the Council would give Fiorentino all the time (rope) he needed. In other words, he could freely play the DATELINE NBC tape and others along with presenting testimony of how nearby clubs are allowed to continue breaking the law unabated. But instead, Fiorentino said nothing about crime at other clubs. In fact, by the Council giving him all the time he needed to have done so, the Council all but killed Treasures' chance of getting a judge to overturn the Council's action.

A judge can now say, "You had full latitude to make a comprehensive presentation including comparisons of your business with others, but you didn't take advantage of it."

Fiorentino came to the meeting armed to the teeth with undercover video surveillance tapes taken in other clubs by Private Investigator Dillard along with statistics showing far worse crimes than those attributed to Treasures. Fiorentino instead opted to kiss the Mayor and Council's collective asses, and keep quiet.

Now the Treasures building may be up for grabs possibly by some "Mr. Clean Face" who could be a front for the mob, the same mob former criminal defense attorney Oscar Goodman knows all too well.

I wonder how the Council will treat the next applicant for licensure of the shuttered Treasures building? Will they also require promises that are impossible to keep?

Instead of using all the resources they had at their command to defend themselves, the Davaris fell prey to someone's secret agenda, and lost big time. Now I hate to say, "I told you so!"

*On August 5, 2004, Councilwoman Janet Moncrief was indicted on five felony counts. Her political fund raiser, Tom Letizia, is the public relations consultant for the Crazy Horse Too.

* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas' scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs

Copyright © Steve Miller

email Steve Miller at:
div. of PLR International
P.O. Box 23
Cleveland, OH 44072-0023
216 374-0000

Copyright © 1998 - 2004 PLR International