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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:

Paying For The Sins of the Father
Similarities between O.J. Simpson and Rick Rizzolo cases

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
September 22, 2008

LAS VEGAS - At the opening of O.J. Simpson's trial last week, prosecuting attorneys told the jury that Simpson had devised a scheme to sell his sports memorabilia in Nevada to avoid paying a California judgment to Fred Goldman.

When it comes to avoiding payment of court ordered debts, Simpson seems to have found a loophole -- and an unexpected protégé. Former Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo may be following Simpson's lead by finding quasi-legal ways to keep creditors at bay.

On February 4, 1997, a trial jury awarded $8.5 million in compensatory damages to the Goldman family and to Ron Goldman's biological mother.

Eleven years later, the Goldman's have not recovered one cent from Simpson.

In 2005, several weeks before Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's divorce, Rick entered into plea negotiations with the federal government in order to keep his father, brother, and sister from being prosecuted. He agreed to pay beating victim Kirk Henry $10 million dollars, and guaranteed to pay off all debts whether the Crazy Horse was sold or not. He also agreed to not declare bankruptcy.

Many believed he struck the sweetheart of sweetheart deals.

Now,  three years after Rick Rizzolo's plea agreement and six months since he was released from prison, Henry has received only $1 million from the Crazy Horse Too's insurance, and not one cent from Rick and Lisa Rizzolo.

Unlike Simpson, Rick Rizzolo has not (yet) been charged with a new crime, and consequently has escaped finding himself back in court facing the renewed scrutiny of prosecutors and creditors.

In a legal maneuver similar to one taken by Fred Goldman to try to locate Simpson's hidden fortune, Kirk Henry on August 13, 2008 gained an ORDER in US Federal Court forcing Rick and Lisa Rizzolo to disclose where they hid their personal assets after their divorce. The court gave the couple no later than May 13, 2009 to disclose assets Rick promised to use to pay any debts over those that were supposed to be paid off from the sale of the Crazy Horse's property, fixtures, and trade name.

In 2006, the City of Las Vegas levied a $2.192 million dollar fine on Rizzolo personally and his two corporations, Power Company, Inc., and RicRiz, LLC. The fine was in response to sixteen Crazy Horse Too employees including Rizzolo pleading guilty to felony crimes including racketeering, tax evasion, and extortion of bar patrons.

Rizzolo is also responsible for paying off a $5 million dollar bank loan and over $5 million to the IRS among other debts.

Almost fifteen months have passed since the Crazy Horse permanently lost its liquor license, and over eleven weeks since the building's adult use zoning permanently expired. Now, the blood stained remnants of the nation's once-most profitable adult venue sits vacant with US Marshal's Service No Trespassing stickers glued to every door.

In the meantime, City Attorney Brad Jerbic is forging ahead in the city's effort to collect the multi-million dollar fine. A non-jury trial is set for February 18, 2009 in the Clark County District Court of Judge Mark Denton.

Because of its deteriorating condition and the impossibility that it will ever reopen as a topless bar, along with plummeting real estate values, the 2476 Industrial Road property is presently not worth a fraction of the over $28 million dollars in judgments and settlements levied against the Rizzolos, and Rick Rizzolo's personal stock and political clout is falling every day since he foolishly lost his business.

Those who followed Rizzolo's unbelievable success can't help but wonder how he let his gold mine fall into the hands of the federal government?

And those fifteen ex-Crazy Horse employees who pleaded guilty based on Rick's false promise to provide attorneys to defend them, are watching his every move.

Several former Crazy Horse employees report seeing Rizzolo on a nightly basis squandering tens of thousands of dollars in cash in local casinos and clubs, something prosecutors, the court, and Henry's legal team are aware of.

Witnesses allege that Rizzolo gives his friend Cliff Diamond his cash to carry around to pay the outrageous bar tabs and casino markers so it doesn't look like the money is coming from Rizzolo.

In Simpson's case, his infamy causes his sports memorabilia to increase in value on a daily basis; something attorneys for Goldman are also aware of. But in Rizzolo's case his infamy for losing the Crazy Horse, then losing hundreds of thousands on the crap tables only makes him look patently stupid.

The sale of the Crazy Horse was supposed to have happened no later than July 2007, but through a not-so-clever series of ruses intended to let the Rizzolo's maintain ownership, a legitimate sale never came through. The government long suspected Rizzolo was pulling a fast one, and eventually dropped the hammer ending any possibility he or his family could ever again profit from the criminal enterprise reopening under a straw man.

The government kept its side of the bargain by letting Rizzolo off with a light sentence in exchange for his agreement to not declare bankruptcy, and to pay all his debts.

        Rick Rizzolo at Body English, 2;00 AM, 7/10/08
But at the time of the plea agreement, the feds never expected Rizzolo to transparently divorce his wife one month later and hire the brother of a federal court judge to set up phony trusts in her name to hide his fortune. Now Federal Prosecutor Eric Johnston has egg on its face while knowing Rizzolo and his cronies party nightly at Las Vegas' most expensive clubs.

But, unlike Simpson, Rizzolo is not facing charges and neither is his ex-wife -- yet. However, the couple's 26 year old son Dominic is facing felony charges for allegedly stabbing a man during a botched extortion attempt!

Dominic is scheduled for ARRAIGNMENT on October 14, 2008 before District Judge Douglas W. Herndon who has granted two postponements in this case. The alleged stabbing took place last January. Dominic is free on $13,000 bail.

Some believe when the local District Attorney threw the book at Simpson over otherwise mundane charges, that the local court system was seeking revenge for the death of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.

It may be possible that Dominic Rizzolo may face the same wrath in court if his parents continue to avoid paying their financial obligations.

On September 12, 2008, Lisa Rizzolo filed an ANSWER to the court's DISCOVERY ORDER. In it, Lisa attempts to persuade US Judge Philip Pro that Henry has no basis for going after the THE LISA M RIZZOLO SEPARATE PROPERTY TRUST. 

Here are several of her arguments:
Case 2:08-cv-00635-PMP-GWF Document 24 Filed 09/12/2008 
* * *
LISA RIZZOLO, an individual; 


Defendants’ divorce was effectuated pursuant to a valid court order by a court of competent jurisdiction which equitably divided the Defendants’ community property

Damages, if any, suffered by Plaintiffs are not attributable to any act, conduct, or omission on the part of Defendant

No actual or justifiable controversy exists between the Plaintiffs and Defendant, and thus, Plaintiffs’ Complaint must be dismissed.

An award of punitive damages as claimed in Plaintiffs’ Complaint would be an excessive fine and otherwise violate the provisions of the United States and/or Nevada Constitutions.

Defendant did not commit any acts of oppression , fraud or malice, express or implied. 

Any claim of damage of Plaintiffs, or cause of action of Plaintiffs, as alleged in Plaintiffs’ Complaint, is barred by the doctrine of laches (Neglecting to do what should or could, have been done to assert a claim or right for an unreasonable and unjustified time causing disadvantage to another), as to all or part of the claim of Plaintiffs.

Defendant alleges that the occurrence referred to in Plaintiffs’ Complaint and damages, if any, resulting therefrom, were caused by the acts or omissions of a third party(ies) over whom Defendant had no control.

Any claim for relief of Plaintiffs, or cause of action of Plaintiffs, as alleged in Plaintiffs’ Complaint, are barred by the statute of limitations.

Defendant reserves the right to plead the following affirmative defenses without limitation as the case proceeds through discovery: accord and satisfaction, arbitration and award, assumption of risk, contributory negligence, discharge in bankruptcy, duress, estoppel, failure of consideration, fraud, illegality, injury by fellow servant, laches, license, payment release, res judicata, statute of frauds, statute of limitations, waiver, intervening causation, and any other matter constituting an affirmative defense. 

Lisa claims that the timing of her divorce had nothing to do with Rick's plea agreement several weeks earlier; that the statute of limitations has run out; that she personally had nothing to do with Henry's injuries; and that she can declare bankruptcy.

Rick Rizzolo agreed in his plea agreement that bankruptcy is not an option. The "third party" Lisa refers to was the bouncer she and her husband employed who broke Kirk Henry's neck over a disputed bar tab.

Since Lisa only filed an ANSWER, not a MOTION, Judge Pro does not have to issue a ruling. Her action is most likely intended to be used in an appeal if one is ever warranted.

And, as if they didn't have enough troubles, there's a recent development in the wrongful death case brought against the Crazy Horse by the widow and daughters of Scott David Fau.

Fau was beaten to death by bar bouncers in 1995, but his case didn't go to trial until January, 2003. At trial, a district court judge who was friendly with Rizzolo did her best to skew the jury's verdict, and the Crazy Horse was let off.

The judge, Nancy Saitta, who is now a Nevada Supreme Court Justice, improperly sealed the case from the close of trial on January 13, 2003, until a complaint was filed in 2007. Then, in response to the complaint, on October 4, 2007, Judge Saitta reluctantly published the following document which finally opened the Fau case record four years after her seemingly endless trial began:

Saitta's denial of access effectively kept Mrs. Fau's new attorneys from conducting research on the case history. When the case record was finally opened to the public, Camille Fau's new attorney filed an APPEAL with the Nevada Supreme Court (Saitta must abstain) stating that the statute of limitations for an APPEAL had not run out based on the improper sealing of the court record.

It has never been proven if Judge Saitta sealed the case as a favor to Rizzolo who was at one time her biggest political campaign contributor and a close friend. But on June 8, 2006, the Los Angeles Times raked Saitta over the coals for favors in their series; "In Las Vegas, They're Playing With a Stacked Judicial Deck."

On October 22, 2007, I penned this INSIDE VEGAS column on the subject: "Judge ends 4 year long trial." Even under such heavy scrutiny, Saitta was  elected to a seat on our state's Supreme Court.

Rizzolo's insurance company -- the same insurer that paid Kirk Henry one tenth of what he's owed -- is paying his legal fees to try to stop Mrs. Fau's APPEAL. The Crazy Horse had a million dollar umbrella at the time of Fau's death and at the time of Henry's beating.

The Justices can rule on Mrs. Fau's APPEAL at any time.

Sometimes a son pays for the sins of his father. In Dominic Rizzolo's case, he's innocent until proven guilty, but as with Simpson, local courts may smell blood in the water and throw the book at him to bring a semblance of justice to Kirk Henry and dozens of others who were needlessly injured at his father and mother's violent former place of business.

For years before his conviction, Rick Rizzolo bought immunity from local elected officials. But since his fall from grace, the Teflon apparently has worn off and he looks very vulnerable in 2009.

I suggest that if Dominic is bound over for trial on October 14, or if the Nevada Supreme Court decides to re-open the Fau case, Lisa Rizzolo -- if she loves her son -- should immediately pay Kirk Henry, and the IRS.

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