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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:

Baseball bat attack returns to haunt
Vegans in their classy sanctuary

"Pillar of the community" has a secret criminal record

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
November 7, 2005

NEWPORT BEACH, CA. - The buzz around the Ritz Restaurant at Fashion Island is all about Sin City topless bar owner Rick Rizzolo. Transplanted Las Vegas residents who frequent Fred Glusman's plush eatery can't stop talking about how their fellow Newport Beach vacation home owner kept his criminal record quiet for so long, and how a front page story in the Orange County Register will affect his social standing in a beach town where people covet their privacy, security, and family values.

In recent years, the surfside cities of Newport and Laguna have become sanctuaries for Las Vegas denizens including former Mayor Jan Jones, MGM CEO Terri Lanni, current LV Mayor Oscar Goodman, and topless bar mogul Rick Rizzolo. Nearby John Wayne Airport is only a thirty minute biz jet ride from Las Vegas. Their hangout, the Ritz, was built especially for them by their buddy Fred Glusman who owns Pieros in Vegas.

Though rumor has it that Mr. Rizzolo and some of his mob cronies were the money behind the Newport eatery, the locals, up until last week, evidently had no idea who some of their new neighbors were.

For several years, Vegas Mayor Goodman, City Attorney Brad Jerbic, city Business License Director Jim DiFiore, and District Attorney David Roger, along with attorneys for the Crazy Horse, argued that Mr. Rizzolo has no criminal record and therefore is fit to hold a privileged business license. In fact, Rizzolo was once referred to as a "Pillar of the community" at a council meeting. Then the same council named Fred Glusman "Citizen of the Month" in 2002, after he had referred to then-Councilwoman Lynette Boggs-McDonald as "that black woman." Boggs-McDonald was not present at the meeting when Glusman received the award.

To the dismay of the "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" crowd at the Ritz, the Orange County Register spilled the beans on one of our homies by reporting: "Rizzolo has a criminal record: he pleaded guilty in 1985 to battery for a baseball bat attack on a Crazy Horse patron, who suffered brain damage, records show."

The patron, Rick Sandland, died three years later of complications caused by the attack. The Clark County DA at the time, Rex Bell, evidently plea bargained the case, and is suspected of helping to seal the record. Rizzolo was defended by attorney Stu Bell (no relation). Stu Bell succeeded Rex Bell as DA, and is currently a Clark County District Court Judge. Rizzolo is known as one of the most generous political campaign contributors in Southern Nevada.

Ten years after Sandland was attacked, California truck driver Scott Fau in 1995, was beaten unconscious by Crazy Horse bouncers, and died several hours later. In 2001, Kansas tourist Kirk Henry was also beaten, and is today a quadriplegic. Then-DA Stu Bell refused to prosecute both cases. His successor, David Roger elected in 2002, has also refused to prosecute any cases involving the Crazy Horse.

Meanwhile, Rizzolo has become known as a "pillar of the community" in both Vegas and Newport Beach. His beach house has become a resort for his pals including fallen LV Councilman Mike McDonald, and others. In fact, on a recent New Years Eve, the beachside mansion was full of frolickers that reportedly included some of Sin City's and Chicago's most notorious -- rubbing elbows with Vegas and Laguna elite. All out of view from prying eyes, or at least they thought.

When it comes to sanctuary, watering holes in Newport and Laguna are about as secure from eavesdroppers as the Iraqi Embassy in Washington D.C.  On a recent Sunday evening, early birds at the Ritz found un-asked-for copies of INSIDE VEGAS on every table and along the bar. Of course all AmericanMafia material was reportedly destroyed before any VIPs arrived.

Orange County is the home of Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and Pepperdine University. Its also the one of the most conservative areas of California. A wealthy suburb of Los Angeles where family values run high.

In Vegas, a mobbed up eatery is considered classy, but in Orange County, such places are not held in high esteem. Neither are guys who bash heads with baseball bats.

I doubt there is room in the hearts of the mostly conservative Republican O.C. residents for a guy like Rick Rizzolo, or his pals. Also of interest is that Clark County court records following the baseball bat attack were sealed thereby making it easy for Rizzolo to maintain a privileged business license in Sin City, something that should have been revoked had his now-revealed criminal record been known to previous mayors and councils. (Steve Miller served on the Las Vegas City Council from 1987 through 1991.)

Meanwhile, in spite of ongoing violence at the Crazy Horse including a knifing that occurred on Oct. 27, the city council in 2003 closed Treasures, and fined Cheetahs one-million dollars. Treasures and Cheetahs are competitors of the Crazy Horse, and neither club has a history of violence. Nonetheless, they were penalized by Goodman and his obedient council, and the Crazy Horse was not.

The main difference I can find between the owners of Treasures, Cheetahs, and the Crazy Horse, is that Oscar Goodman, prior to becoming mayor, was the
criminal defense attorney for many of  Rizzolo's associates -- but he did not represent the owners of Treasures or Cheetahs. Rizzolo's associates include Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Vinnie Faraci, Al Rapuano, Joey Cusumano, and others who Rizzolo still maintains close friendships with. In fact, Rocco Lombardo, Joey's brother, is currently a Crazy Horse executive.

According to the Orange County Register, "
Crazy Horse Too has been under investigation since August 2001 for suspected fraud, illegal sexual activity and drug violations. Court documents also allege that Rizzolo repeatedly dined with mob underboss Joey 'The Clown' Lombardo in Chicago - who disappeared after being indicted on murder charges. Court records, quoting the Chicago Tribune, add that Rizzolo also rubbed shoulders with high-ranking mobsters John 'No-Nose' DiFronzo and his consigliere, Joe 'The Builder' Andriacchi."

Its not known if DiFronzo or Andriacchi were clients of Goodman's law firm that was famous for requiring a half million dollar retainer before taking on a criminal defense client.

So, the protection afforded the Crazy Horse by the mayor and his timid council may be based on his long term friendship and business association with Lombardo and other Chicago mob figures who were former Goodman law clients and are now suspected hidden owners of the strip club. Meanwhile, no one on the council would dare cross the mayor lest they be cut off from future campaign fundraisers at Pieros.

Goodman brags that he arrived in Vegas with eighty-five dollars in his pocket. He had to receive a lot of help to become as rich as he is today, and its obvious who his loyalties are to, otherwise the Crazy Horse should have been the first on his list for license revocation instead of its two closest competitors who don't beat people up.

Following the August 2004, Dateline NBC expose' on the violence at the Crazy Horse,
then-Las Vegas Review-Journal city hall reporter Michael Squires asked the mayor if he watched the program? Goodman's answer was "I did not see that." My reaction to his statement? The mayor fears Joe Lombardo, and will protect his alleged investment at any cost.

Now, after being kept in the closet for so long, the dirty Sin City secrets are starting to see the light of day -- but not in Las Vegas -- in Southern California, the most lucrative tourist market we have.

Instead of protecting our investment in tourism by closing the Crazy Horse before anyone else is maimed or killed, our paid off Mayor and DA bury their heads in the sand while potential Southern California visitors
read that our city harbors those who condone violence.

When will we ever learn?

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