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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:

The Last Man Standing, Baseball Bats,
OJ, the DA, a Kid Judge, and the Fool

"I'll take a baseball bat and break his head if he ever comes here."
- LV Mayor Oscar Goodman

"Great steve - we will look like fools to the rest of the country." -  Tom Letizia, Goodman's campaign manager

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
September 24, 2007

Las Vegas gets a couple of well deserved black eyes, and guess who gets blamed?

But first, congratulations go to "Las Vegas Most Colorful Character," Buffalo Jim Barrier
"I don't mean to rub it in the mob's face, but I'm the last man standing," said Barrier on Thursday as he stood beside the padlocked front entrance of the Crazy Horse Too.
Since 1999, Barrier, a former pro wrestler, has been fighting to get the infamous topless bar located next to his auto garage shut down. On Aug. 15, 2007, he got his wish when the U.S. Government took possession of the building and property leaving Barrier's Allstate Auto Repair the only business still operating on the site of past extortion, beatings, and murders.
"My new landlord is the United States of America," Barrier proudly boasted.
Barrier is the son of a Cherokee Indian and he's proud of his Indian ancestry. "This battle was just like the 'Battle of the Little Big Horn,'" Barrier stated. "I was Chief Sitting Bull, and Rick Rizzolo was Col. George Armstrong Custer. The odds were all in his favor. He had the Mayor, a City Councilman, a few crooked cops, some judges, and the District Attorney in his corner. All I had was truth and justice in mine. Now look at the end result! This is a great country ain't it?"
The "No Trespassing" signs couldn't come at a better time. For the past three weeks, Bart, Annette, and Ralph Rizzolo were observed on four occasions illegally entering their former strip joint to allegedly steal valuables confiscated by the government.
On one occasion, they were accompanied by Las Vegas Police officers who also had no apparent authority to be inside the building.
According to sources, the Federal Government had enough, and on Tuesday September 18 finally changed the locks and posted "No Trespassing" signs. But that may have been too late since many believe the Rizzolo's had already looted the place of drugs, guns, and cash reportedly hidden within the building.
"Yes, it sure looks like I'm gloating over being the last man standing, but I wish I could say the same for Kirk Henry and Scott Fau." Barrier lamented.
Fau in August 1995 was beaten to death by Crazy Horse bouncers. The then-District Attorney refused to prosecute. Fau's widow and daughters sued, but a judge who is close to Rizzolo instructed the jury to not consider blunt force trauma as cause of death. Mrs. Fau could not afford the cost of an appeal.

Kirk Henry, on Sept. 21 2001, was beaten by a Crazy Horse Too manager rendering him a quadriplegic. Henry has since received a judgment for $10 million dollars against Rick Rizzolo the bar's purported owner, however according to FBI documents, Rizzolo has hidden his assets making collection of the judgment almost impossible.
Rizzolo's ex-wife Lisa was given three houses, five expensive automobiles, and a $7.2 million dollar annuity in a hasty divorce three weeks after her husband began plea bargaining. The FBI reports that the money and cars are missing, and Mrs. Rizzolo has since taken out mortgages on the three houses and hidden the proceeds.

OJ, the DA, and a Kid Judge

In 2003, During his first week in office, newly elected Clark County District Attorney David Roger (left) discarded five requests for prosecution brought by Las Vegas Metro Police against employees of the Crazy Horse Too. One of the requests was for prosecution of Bobby DiApice, the person who broke Kirk Henry's neck. Another involved the bouncers who killed Scott Fau. According to Roger's predecessor Stewart Bell, all five cases had probable cause.
It was later found that Roger had accepted over $50,000 in campaign contributions from Crazy Horse owner Rick Rizzolo. When he was confronted, Roger said he returned the money, but that was never proven.

Coincidentally, Roger's campaign headquarters were located in a building owned by Rizzolo's attorneys and Oscar Goodman's protégés Dean Patti and Tony Sgro who were recently accused of laundering bribe money to ex-LV Councilman Michael McDonald who is being investigated by a Federal Grand Jury for doing Rizzolo favors.

Court observers are talking of possible indictments of Patti and Sgro for their alleged part in laundering bribes to McDonald on behalf of Rizzolo to let the racketeering activity go on at the Crazy Horse during McDonald's two terms in office..
Roger also refused to prosecute "Operation G-Sting" perpetrators Lance Malone, Erin Kenny, Dario Herrera, and Mary Kincaid Chauncy, the corrupt Clark County Commissioners now convicted of felonies, thanks only to the FBI.
Why did it take the Federal Government to do David Roger's job? Some speculate it's because he's obliged to the same people who corrupted the Commissioners, Mayor, at least one District Court Judge, and McDonald.
During Roger's first term as D.A., the Nevada Supreme Court reversed his conviction of Sandra Murphy in the Ted Binion death case, and a subsequent jury exonerated her at retrial, Roger was humiliated and needed to do some major image repair.
Roger immediately showed his mettle by threatening to put former Clark County Commissioner Lynette Boggs-McDonald (left) in prison for "18 years" for paying her baby sitter $1,200 from her campaign fund, and for living 50 feet outside her district.
He evidently thinks putting away a Notre Dame graduate, former Miss Oregon, and mother of two small children will make him look tough on crime. This after he refused to prosecute the murderous Crazy Horse goons or the corrupted County Commissioners.
But then a dream came true for David Roger when O.J. Simpson stupidly decided to rob a room at the Palace Station. Now, instead of having to concentrate on putting Boggs-McDonald away, Roger is throwing the kitchen sink at Simpson for a simple robbery, and to get himself some national TV tube time.

Within minutes of his arrest, Roger took to the airways to proclaim he was going to prosecute Simpson for two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, coercion with a deadly weapon, two counts of first-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon, burglary and several counts of conspiracy.

His tough sounding words inspired this insightful response from an INSIDE VEGAS reader that says it all:

Steve: Where's The Beef??
It's Las Vegas. There's a bunch of thieves in a hotel room. They're yelling and threatening each other like a gaggle of pre-teen boys at a Jr. High bus stop. Someone has a gun or maybe two or maybe none. One guy admits on tape that the stuff they're yelling about is stolen, but the other guy did it.  Some of the doofuses take some of the stolen stuff out of the room.  Everybody is recording everybody else for sale to the tabloids.  Then one of the jerks calls the cops.  When it's over, one guy says he doesn't want to press charges, goes home and has a heart attack.  The guy who called the cops wants to press charges, but he gets picked up on his parole violation.  The cops are running all over town looking for the guys who re-stole the stolen stuff, and tabloid television (cable) is having a field day just because one of the jerks is a former famous football player.  The D.A. calls it kidnapping.  Huh???  Think he's trying to be the hero who puts the football player in the clink? And weeks later tabloid television is still having a field day.  Ya gotta love Vegas.


Helping Roger is his former assistant in the D.A.'s office, Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure. "Little Joe" is the 31 year old son of former District Court Judge Joe Bonaventure who became a celebrity after presiding over the nationally televised so-called Ted Binion "murder" trial. (No one ever proved Binion was murdered as explained in "Death in the Desert," a best seller by true crime writer Cathy Scott.)

In this latest O.J. Simpson case, the junior Judge Bonaventure was mysteriously able to usurp the originally assigned judge, Ann Zimmerman, and thus become a familiar face and pony tail on world wide TV. His sudden appearance on the bench after Judge Zimmerman was originally assigned the case inspired many to wonder
what strings his dad must have pulled at the Regional Justice Center to make his son a national celebrity?

With Roger and "Little Joe" in charge of seeking justice, O.J. Simpson couldn't have wished for a better "Dream Team!"  With so much grandstanding going on, Simpson has a good chance of getting his case thrown out or overturned.
Las Vegas has a reputation for ignoring certain type crimes including so called robbery/kidnappings that occur in hotels, crimes that happened at the Crazy Horse Too, and the illegal prostitution taking place in massage parlors and escort services. These crimes reflect our "What Happens Here, Stays Here" image and seldom result in police reports because, if reported, would discourage tourism -- that's until O.J. Simpson entered the scene.

With the world watching the latest O.J. case, our reputation as "Sin City" will probably end up being reinforced
along with the laughing stock our town has become based on recent remarks made by our mayor.

The Fool

I really managed to piss off members of the Vegas elite during the past several weeks.

I had the honor of hosting veteran New York Times columnist Bob Herbert and prostitution researcher and author Melissa Farley, Ph.D. in my home. I took them on a tour of shopping centers near Mayor Goodman's Scotch 80's estate to show how Asian "Massage" brothels have infested the once pristine area. While we were driving, a mobile billboard advertising "Hot Babes Direct to Your Room" passed by. I did my best to answer their questions truthfully and provided years of INSIDE VEGAS columns for backup, but I never imagined the backlash our efforts would soon unleash.
Typical newspaper boxes commonly filled with free flyers
advertising 'escorts' on Las Vegas Blvd., although
itself is illegal in Las Vegas and Clark county.

We photographed West Sahara Avenue and Paradise Road massage parlors and escort services, and visited the shut down Crazy Horse to talk to Jim Barrier. We watched as illegal aliens shoved sex fliers into the hands of tourists walking on the Strip. We discussed the political corruption that protects such businesses. 
We also discussed the "What happens here, stays here" mentality that encourages city officials to turn their backs on the different forms of illegal prostitution that have flourished within the city limits during the immensely popular Goodman administration. We discussed the spread of HIV and SIDs caused by unprotected sex with prostitutes.
Bob Herbert went inside several "Massage" parlors looking for Certificates from the Nevada Board of Massage Therapy. None could be found for the workers, many who live in the back rooms of the parlors.

Then Herbert published "City as Predator" in the New York Times, and all hell broke loose at LV City Hall!

City as Predator
September 4, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Las Vegas

There is probably no city in America where women are treated worse than in Las Vegas.

The tone of systematic, institutionalized degradation is set by the mayor, Oscar Goodman, who told me in an interview that the city would reap “tremendous” benefits if a series of “magnificent brothels” could be established to cater to johns from across the country and around the world.

“I've said there should be the beginning of a discussion of that,” said Mr. Goodman, a former defense lawyer for mobsters who unabashedly describes his city as an adult playground where “anything goes — as long as you don’t go over the line.”

Most of the lines in Vegas have long since been erased. It is without a doubt, as the psychologist and researcher Melissa Farley, says, “the epicenter of North American prostitution and sex trafficking.”

Vegas is a place where women and girls by the tens of thousands are chewed up by the vast and astonishingly open sex trade. You can be sitting at a traffic light and a huge mobile billboard will drive past, promising, “Hot Babes — Direct to Your Room.”

I was drawn to this story by an advance copy of Ms. Farley’s book-length report, “Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections.” It’s being published online today.

The report explores what Oscar Goodman doesn't appear to understand: the horrendous toll that prostitution, legal or illegal, takes on the women and girls involved. If you peel back the thin, supposedly sexy veneer of the commercial sex trade, you'll quickly see the rotten inside, where females are bought, sold, raped, beaten, shamed and in many, many cases, physically and emotionally wrecked.

Start with the fact that so many of those who are pulled into the trade are so young — early-20s, late-teens and younger. Child prostitutes by the hundreds pass through the Family Division courtroom of Judge William Voy, who views the hapless, vulnerable girls as victims and tries to help them. The girls he sees are as young as 12, with the average age being 14.

He told me about a 14-year-old who was seven months pregnant by her pimp. She was suffering from a sexually transmitted disease, had a drug problem, was undernourished and still craved a relationship with the pimp. “These cases will tear your heart out,” the judge said.

Ms. Farley was asked to study the Nevada sex trade and its consequences 2 ½ years ago by John Miller, who at the time headed the U.S. State Department's effort to fight human trafficking around the world. Prostitution is legal in some parts of Nevada but not in Vegas, where 90 percent of the state's prostitution occurs. Vegas is a world-class embarrassment to any U.S. official attempting to reduce prostitution and trafficking in foreign countries.

“We did surveys of people on the street,” said Ms. Farley, “and nearly half thought prostitution was legal in Las Vegas. Guess why that is? Massive advertising.”

There are more than 150 pages of ads in the Las Vegas yellow pages for “college teens,” “mature women,” “mothers and daughters,” “petite Japanese women,” “Chinese teens in short skirts” and every other variation imaginable. I asked Mayor Goodman about that, and he said: “We've changed that a little bit. They used to have pictures.”

Sex clubs with teenage girls dancing nude and offering lap dances to johns are legal, ubiquitous and widely advertised. Many of those girls are either prostitutes or one short step away.

What is not widely understood is how coercive all aspects of the sex trade are. The average age of entry into prostitution is extremely young. The prostitutes are ruthlessly controlled by pimps, club owners and traffickers. In the case of legal prostitution, they are controlled by their own pimps and the brothel owners — pimps who have been legalized by the state.

The women are exploited in every way. Most of the money they receive from johns goes to the pimps, the brothel owners, the escort service managers and so forth. Strippers and lap dancers have to pay for the right to dance in the clubs, and the money they get in tips has to be shared with the club owners, bartenders, bouncers, etc.

Huge numbers of foreign women are trafficked into Vegas. The legions of Asian women in the massage parlors and escort services did not come flocking to Vegas from suburban U.S.A.
Mayor Goodman said that he is no fan of illegal prostitution, but is convinced the legal variety could be a boon. He is proud of his city's tourist slogan: “What happens here, stays here.”

Back in the ’90s, Las Vegas tried hard to promote a family-friendly image.

“That ended when I became mayor,” said Mr. Goodman.

After the NY Times column hit, It didn't take long for Goodman to find out I had helped in its research. Goodman went ballistic!

Goodman told Jim Barrier to tell me, "If I see him in City Hall, I'll throw him out a tenth floor window."

Then he said this about Bob Herbert; "I'll take a baseball bat and break his head if he ever comes here," as reported by the LV Review-Journal.

                Review-Journal editorial cartoon by Jim Day, published in 2003

Never once in his insane diatribe did the mayor acknowledge that escort service and massage parlor prostitution thrive on sex slave trafficking. He just reaffirmed his
years of support for the establishment of "magnificent brothels" in the city. He even went so far as to say he would like to see one of our new high rise condominiums in downtown turned into a "beautiful" brothel!

To the mayor's dismay, our city's prostitution and sex slave trafficking problems were accurately described by Herbert in his Times column. And Farley, in her book "Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections" describes in detail what most Nevadans don't care to know about their state.

This is not the kind of publicity a city of two million needs, especially one that would like to attract new high tech industry to diversify its single industry economy. But for that to happen, our current story must be told, and those who perpetuate it removed from power. Otherwise, Las Vegas will no longer be a suitable place to raise children, and that can go on for a long time because Goodman is so popular that he could get elected again and again.

Goodman's baseball bat threat was taken off a page from his former law client Rick Rizzolo's book. In 1989, it was Goodman the criminal defense lawyer who got Rizzolo off with a slap on the wrist after Rizzolo bashed in Rick Sandlin's head with, yes, a baseball bat. Sandlin died three years later of his injuries, but Goodman got him off with the help of the then-overly cooperative D.A., Rex Bell.

In today's Oscar Goodman City Hall, baseball bats are the cure for bad press.

During the week Herbert and Farley were here, Nevada State Assemblyman Bob Beers scheduled a Press Conference for Dr. Farley at the State Office Building so that she could present several former prostitutes to tell their sordid stories.

This also infuriated Goodman and those on the Strip who would rather see our high rollers stay put on casino properties, or at least not have to travel too far to get a "Full Body Massage" as advertised in over 150 Yellow Pages in our local phone book. The 60 mile drive to Pahrump's legal brothels can keep a gambler away from the tables for hours, so "Lite" sex at massage parlors, or a "Hot Babe Direct to Your Room" gets the gambler back to the casino floor in minimum time. For this convenience, hotel security are reportedly told to look the other way when prostitutes want access to tower elevators..
As was exemplified in Operations "G-Sting" and "Crazy Horse," callous local officials must be embarrassed by outside media coverage before they begin to pay attention, and even then it takes intervention by Federal authorities to get the job done -- a job that should be the responsibility of the District Attorney, City Council, and County Commission.

Remember, even if the police do their jobs it still takes the District Attorney to prosecute criminals. David Roger's selective lack of response to LVMPD requests for prosecution has been a discouragement to many dedicated street cops, especially when they see his over reaction in the Simpson case.

But, after the NY Times column, the national press wasn't through with Las Vegas and our degenerate mayor. Based on his stupid baseball bat remark, the Arizona Republic in our neighboring city of Phoenix let loose with this completely deserved Editorial "Grow up, Las Vegas:"

Grow up, Las Vegas
Sept. 20, 2007


O.J. Simpson found out what happens in Vegas doesn't stay there.

The rest of the country might ponder that lesson in a much larger context.

When New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote about the exploitive underside of prostitution in Las Vegas, Sin City Mayor Oscar Goodman responded by saying he'd like to take a baseball bat to Herbert.

That response should put to rest any remaining arguments about the prevalence of violence in a culture built on a deep disrespect for human dignity.

The issue here is not whether Vegas should keep lowering the bar on decency just so the rest of the nation can stop in for an occasional naughty, anonymous weekend.

Nor is this about whether the so-called "sex industry" is really just another career opportunity for today's modern woman. (It's not.)

This is about who we are.

Researcher Melissa Farley spent 2 1/2 years studying the Nevada sex trade and wrote a report that inspired the Herbert columns, which ran in The Republic Sept. 7 and 12. Her report, "Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada, Making the Connections," found that "prostitution is sexual predation, plain and simple."

How could it be otherwise when one person is "sold" for temporary use by another? How can the fact that some women are saleable commodities not impact the way all women are viewed?

And how can such an industry exist without coercion?

Las Vegas Family Court Judge William Voy told the Las Vegas Sun that 70 percent of the juvenile prostitution cases he deals with involve children who came from out of state. What's more, most of them worked as prostitutes in their home states.

Teen girls do not "choose" a whore's lifestyle because it is so glamorous. They are coerced, raped, beaten and controlled by pimps who take advantage of their youth and play off a popular culture that glorifies sex as something women are supposed to deliver on cue.

Illegal trafficking of foreign women who are tricked into the trade is also common.

This is not about empowered women.

This is not dark corners where evil breeds in secret.

Farley says, "It takes a village to build a prostitute."

The village is not just Las Vegas.

The village is where we all live. It consists of what we all - collectively - are willing to accept.

We can tell Las Vegas Mayor Goodman to put down the bat. We can hope his views will be completely rejected by his city.

But we - collectively - have made his view of the world pay off the way a Vegas slot machine never will.

What happens in Las Vegas doesn't stay there. It contaminates us all.

As if these two scathing editorials weren't enough to shake Las Vegas into its senses, last week I received a call from the New York Daily News. Writers Adam Nichols and Jeff Burbank had discovered a long forgotten complaint I filed in 2004 with the Nevada Attorney General on the campaign practices of "Little Joe" Bonaventure. This inspired the story; "Vegas handles O.J. Simpson case with kid judge."

Vegas handles O.J. Simpson case with kid judge

and JEFF BURBANK in Las Vegas

Thursday, September 20th 2007

The ponytailed judge whom O.J. Simpson faced yesterday was only a teen when the Juice was last in custody.

Joe Bonaventure Jr., 31, is Las Vegas' youngest judge.

He graduated from law school six years ago and had only two years of legal experience before being elected a justice of the peace in 2004.

He was accused of deliberately deceiving voters about his inexperience by masquerading as his father - a high-profile district judge with the same name.

"His campaign literature didn't differentiate between himself or his father in any way," said Steve Miller, a former Vegas councilman. "He wasn't qualified for the position. He won because voters thought they were electing his father. I have no doubt about it."

Miller's complaint to the state attorney general was dismissed.

Bonaventure's dad called the allegations nonsense.

"He's his own man," said Joseph Bonaventure Sr., 64.

He told the Daily News he's awfully proud of how he handled Simpson: "I've seen judges who want their 15 minutes of fame but he wasn't playing for the cameras. He got his business done quick."

Still, the uproar over Bonaventure Jr.'s election prompted a new law - dubbed the Joe Bonaventure bill - that would have disqualified him from the race. Las Vegas judges must now have at least five years' legal experience.

Bonaventure Jr. is expected to continue presiding over the Simpson case until it reaches trial and assigned to another judge.

         Mayor Oscar Goodman and Tom Letizia

Needless to say,  my participation in the above exposés of our town's darkest secrets and most embarrassing moments did not endear me with the
"Pillars of the community" who hang out at Piero's in Vegas, or the Ritz in Newport Beach. To let me know their feelings, advertising executive Tom Letizia who is the son in law of Piero's/Ritz owner Freddy Glusman sent an email. Letizia doubles as Mayor Oscar Goodman's campaign manager and was once Rick Rizzolo's P.R. man, so I always enjoy hearing from him.


Subject: Re:   New York Daily News on Judge Bonaventure, Jr.
Date:              9/20/2007 2:53:07 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time

Great steve - we will look like fools to the rest of the country... Tom
My Reply:

Subject: Re:     New York Daily News on Judge Bonaventure, Jr.
Date:                9/20/2007 4:17:12 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Tom:   We already do, thanks to Oscar... Regards, Steve

The accurate Editorials in the NY Times and Arizona Republic may shock local and state officials into enforcing existing laws and putting an end to illegal prostitution and sex trafficking in massage parlors and escort services -- businesses coddled by the mayor and D.A. as part of our stupid "Sin City" image.

And the story in the NY Daily News about how easy it was to fool our voters may encourage honesty in local elections.

It's true Tom. Our community is looking "like fools to the rest of the country..." But our town's latest bad publicity may be the wake up call we need to convince naive star struck locals that they have a pimp acting as their mayor instead of the psudo rock star many blindly idolize for having played his current self, a mob lawyer, in "Casino."

I sure hope this publicity makes us do some introspection about our pubescent city's problems. Maybe then we'll finally "Grow up" and begin cleaning our own back yard without having to be made to look like fools by visiting journalists.

Copyright © Steve Miller

Editor's note: The author is currently writing a book about the mob's influence in present day Las Vegas.



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