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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:

"I was rolled at the Crazy Horse Too"
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
September 5, 2005

No one wants to kill a goose that lays golden eggs

On August 30, I received the following e-mail. What makes this missive unusual is that it was sent just as a three-year-long federal investigation of racketeering, income tax evasion, credit card fraud, and political corruption is about to wrap up.

Subject: I was rolled at the Crazy Horse Too
Date: 8/30/2005 12:43:51 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
From: (name withheld by request)

Hi Mr. Miller.  I was at a bachelor party in Vegas this last weekend and had a terrible experience at the Crazy Horse Too.  I was basically swindled by a couple of dancers who took advantage of my inebriated state and was then intimidated into handing over my credit card.  When I got home and checked my bank and credit card statements online, I saw they had charged $900 to my debit card and $1700 to my credit card, in addition to a couple of other lesser charges.  Turns out they actually tried to then run through a seemingly random number of transactions on my debit card after the first one, which thankfully were all refused by the bank at that point. 
Anyway, I'm trying to dispute the charges as I feel I was basically robbed, and have been reading your articles with great interest, seeing that the place is notorious for just this sort of ripoff, and worse.  Any suggestions on how to remedy my situation, beyond just disputing the charges?

The whole thing is a little embarrassing to be honest.  But you're right, knowing what I know now I guess I'm lucky I still have all my teeth.  I'm no expert on strip clubs, but I'm wondering if there's even anything legal they could possibly say I purchased for $2500+.  I'm guessing that my calling the club directly would be pointless, right?

Regards, (name withheld by request)

According to sources within the joint FBI-IRS investigation, indictments are about to handed down, however, this e-mail indicates that the alleged crimes are ongoing -- indicating no lesson has been learned after two law enforcement raids of the Crazy Horse Too strip bar, and the arrest and indictment of its general manager.

Last week, I published the above e-mail in my daily Insider E-Brief hoping others will volunteer additional information. Shortly thereafter, I received this e-mail from a man I had not heard from in two years:

Subject: Re: I was rolled at the Crazy Horse Too
Date: 8/30/2005 2:14:54 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
From: (name withheld by request)

steve....interested in letter on crazy you may remember i testified before grand jury in october...2 years ago, before eric johnson..the club tagged me for $20,000. a couple card companies sided with me...a couple was a rip...double billing...ploy was....had trouble with card...need home and someone had booked flight on card, rooms at marriott. i quess it is too late to ever recover money...the hotel and flight were nipped in the bud by airline and card company....last time i ever go there, or to vegas for that matter...keep up the good work...(name withheld by request)

This column has proven to be a lightening rod to persons with similar stories. A quick Google search of "Crazy Horse Too Las Vegas" will find Rick Porrello's - INSIDE VEGAS articles listed prominently -- an indication that many people have accessed these pages -- hopefully before being placed in jeopardy.

In addition to victim's reports, the feds during the second raid, confiscated the Crazy Horse's credit card readers and computers that probably tell the extent of the fraud. Also, keep in mind that only a small percentage of those who were swindled or beaten contacted me personally, but I'm aware of many more who went directly to the FBI with stories such as this:

Hi Mr. Miller:
I was the patron at Crazy Horse Two who was beat up outside the club for refusing to sign a charge bill I had not even started. Can you please contact me on what I can do, if I can press charges. Also the police who arrested me denied me medical attention and held me for 3 hours before booking me. This is what I remember happening on Monday, April 19, 2005 at the Crazy Horse Too Strip Club.

...Once entering the club, we sat down at the closest seats to the door, because those were available. I went to the bar and gave the bartender my credit card and Driver's License.

The bartender came back and said you need to sign this before I can give you your drinks. I said that is insane. I said I have been here before, and never had to sign before buying anything. That is when the bartender became abusive. I defended myself and said the same things to him, then he came over and started arguing with me. That is when my brother said: “... I will pay for the drinks,” and I said: “...we don't have to put up with this.” That is when the manager came over and told us to leave.

So when we got up to leave the bartender followed us out. Then the manager came over and started pushing me. He pushed me three times, and then I defended myself. That is when the bartender came over with another guy and we started to tussle. I grabbed the chafing dish tray tops and threw them at them, that is when I was grabbed from behind by someone, and was thrown outside. 

The next few minutes were a blur. I was hit from all sides by so many people it became a blur. The next thing I knew I was on the ground, and covering up so as to not get hit hard in the face.  That is when I saw my brother step back in and push some guys off me, and then I was able to get back up. That is when the police arrived.

The police grabbed me with the bouncer. One of the bouncers had me in a headlock while the police arrested me. That is when I was put in the police car and the police officer put my cuffs on so tight, they were cutting the circulation off from my fingers. The officer kept me over at the Strip Club for another two hours, I thought he was going to let me out and let them finish the job. So I told him to take me to the police station. The paramedics came, and they looked at my face, and determined that my mouth was all swollen due to my braces. I informed them that my braces cut only in the inside, not the outside, they refused to look at me. It seemed like he waited another hour and then we left. Once I got to the detainment facility, there was a nurse and 8 police officers there to arrest me, the lead officer was good, he told me not to be hostile.

I was taken in the booking facility, and was forced to sit there for a while... After another hour one of the booking agents, said: “What are we going to do with him?” That is when one of the other officers said, they were not going to book me, and then the officer who arrested me came in and said: “Yes we are.” So then I went through the booking process.  

...They put me in a separate cell away from everyone else, where the phone was broken, and I sat there contemplating my situation. They brought me back out and I talked to the nurse. She was more interested in that I had gastric bypass surgery than taking care of my face and my swollen hands... I was released at 4 in the morning, still bloody, swollen, tired, and contemplating what an ordeal I had just been through. I was just glad I was alive. -- (name withheld by request)

As an indication of the perceived danger of coming forward, and the reason witnesses have asked for anonymity, Metro Sgt. Scott Killebrew with Metro's Organized Crime Bureau filed an affidavit in 2002 that was quoted by columnist John L. Smith in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Sgt. Scott's affidavit stated
: "Premature disclosure of this information would prejudice the criminal investigation and endanger the safety of possible witnesses. Potential subjects would be made aware that they were the focus of a criminal investigation. Potential subjects and possible witnesses friendly to them could coordinate and rehearse their stories. Other witnesses, once identified, would be subject to tampering, retribution, harassment and intimidation. Cooperating witnesses would be especially at risk. Possible witnesses have consistently expressed fear for their physical safety if it were known or even suspected that they were in any way cooperating with law enforcement authorities." "Disclosure of the records sought" would pose "a real and serious risk to the criminal investigation and the personal safety of potential witnesses."

Since the 2003 election, Metro's potential witnesses have had little to worry about. Immediately after taking office,
newly elected Clark County District Attorney David Roger dropped all cases involving the Crazy Horse Too, this after accepting a highly controversial $45,000 political campaign contribution generated by Rizzolo.

Then there was this
sent by a reader telling of an incident that allegedly happened at the Crazy Horse in 2003:

We agreed to start a tab and I gave the barmaid my credit card. After a couple of lap dances the blonde I was with began to proposition me with various sexual favors and hourly rates. Before I knew it I had been offered, and agreed to, 24 hours of time with her for $1,300.00. She said we could do anything I wanted, sex front and back, blow jobs anything for 24 hours. She left for a few minutes and returned with another lady. This lady was Asian and went by the name of (withheld). Before I knew it, the second lady was in on the same deal for another $1,300.00, only she proposed 48 hours.

The three of us went to the front desk and began a lengthy paperwork process, approximately 40 minutes. There was a Russian blonde cashier behind the counter that had my credit card and another Russian lady dancer sitting in a chair next to the counter in front. The 2 dancers I was with were making a big scene. The Asian actually had her hand down my pants, holding my penis and proudly announced that we were going to go " F - - ky S - - ky" for 48 hours... As the foolery and distractions continued, I was presented with paperwork to sign periodically. Photo copies of my drivers license and credit card were taken and I had to give a thumb print.

During this period of time I began to wonder why it was taking so long to process this transaction... I asked the girls where we would be going for the next 48 hours. The Asian said "downstairs." I asked "here in this building?" She said "yes, here in this building downstairs." The other lady confirmed the Asian's response... They both said they had to use the bathroom first before we go downstairs and encouraged me to do the same. Again there were at least four employees that heard and witnessed all of this. I later learned there is no downstairs.

...When we returned to the front desk within 5 minutes, expecting to meet them, they never showed up. We never saw them again. I immediately asked the cashier for a refund. She said she couldn't do that. I said "but you have to, you just witnessed this entire scam and you know that I didn't get what I paid for." Again she said no. I asked to see the Manager. His name is (withheld). I explained what had just taken place and a few of the witnesses and employees confirmed my story. I insisted on a refund. He said no but come back tomorrow and we'll take care of you.

... It was at this time that another lady dancer showed up. She had witnessed part of this ordeal and felt sorry for me... She knew how I felt and warned me not to make trouble with the management, that they would not tolerate any verbal abuse or deal with disputes. It could be dangerous!

... I was shocked to hear that I had $6,500.00 worth of charges to my account!. Needless to say I was speechless. Considering the warning I was given earlier, I decided not to make a scene as we left for home.

... I am now a Federal Witness to this investigation and protected by the laws that govern it. -- (name withheld by request)

During a 2002 deposition of Rick Rizzolo, the Crazy Horse's purported owner, he was asked: "Prior to hiring your employees, do you inquire of them as to what their criminal history is?" Rizzolo replied: "No." He was then asked: "Why not?" Rizzolo answered: "I believe in giving everybody a shot." Then when asked: "Irrespective of what their criminal history may be?" Rizzolo replied: "Yes."

In respect to his boss's forgiving attitude,
a current Crazy Horse employee told me: "If the guest is fortunate enough to be invited to escort his host around the topless club the first time of the night, when he enters the room, he can witness every single floor man he comes in contact with, come up to the Boss and respectfully kiss his cheek. If you wanted to be a soldier for this leader, what would you do when some customer has the nerve to refuse to pay tribute to your leader's sanctuary or one of his 'broads?' I'm only surprised that they don't wear spats with their tuxedos and brass knuckles."

n Sin City, Rizzolo continues "giving everybody a shot" irrespective of their criminal history. However, Rizzolo is also spending a lot of time out of town. He's preparing for the grand opening of another Crazy Horse Too in Philadelphia!

"In July of 2001, (Eben) Kostbar alleges he was beaten by bouncers at the Crazy Horse after a dispute over his tab." -- KVBC TV News, October 2002

Kostbar sued the strip bar, but settled his multi-million dollar lawsuit  in 2003 for an undisclosed sum, as have a number of other victims.

Since the mid 1990s, numerous reports of intimidation, beatings, and a killing were filed by Las Vegas Metro Police. In 2001, Kansas tourist Kirk Henry allegedly had his neck broken by Crazy Horse manager Bobby D'Apice after Henry disputed an $88 bar tab. Henry's assault, and the non-response by local authorities, triggered the federal investigation and arrest of D'Apice -- not by LV Metro -- but by FBI and IRS police. In the wake of this, Mayor Oscar Goodman shamelessly accepted a $40,000 campaign contribution from Rizzolo for his uncontested run for a second term. Since then, the mayor has ignored hundreds of calls for disciplinary action against the Crazy Horse's liquor license, while the DA refused to prosecute D'Apice. (Henry's Attempted Murder civil lawsuit escalated from state court into the jurisdiction of US District Court on August 15, 2005.)

"I disputed it right then and there because I didn't agree with the charges. I thought it was frivolous. And basically, I was coerced into signing the receipt... If I had 3-thousand dollars worth of lap dances -- I don't think I'd be walking by morning time... The bouncer, not the bouncer but the bartender said, 'If you don't sign this tab you'll get your ass kicked like anybody else around this joint.' basically, I was intimidated." --  Local man who wanted his identity protected, KVBC TV News, November 21, 2002

The activities at the Crazy Horse are best summed up by former federal prosecutors Stan Hunterton and Don Campbell:

"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."

After six frustrating years of covering this seemingly endless story, I'm convinced that a few corrupt local politicians and law enforcement officials have allowed this criminal enterprise to remain in business. Its painfully obvious that many Sin City government officials are either paid off, or too cowardly to act.

Until the federal government drops the hammer on the mayhem and local political corruption that harbors it, our town will continue to get an undeserved black eye, and our tourists will remain prey. If the feds don't act swiftly, the venom will spread to the east coast, where -- like in Vegas -- no politician wants to kill a goose that lays golden eggs.

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

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