strip club beating goes unpunished
Thugs hire City Councilman as their lawyer.
Mayor's lawyer-son hired by strip club.
Police request prosecution, but DA
refuses to cooperate -- again!
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 11, 2009
On the night of June 22,
2007, businessman Michael Grasso was severely beaten inside Treasures Gentleman's
The four perpetrators were
professional fighters and trainers who had been 86'ed from the Las Vegas
strip club several times in the months prior to attacking Grasso. Seriously
injured, Grasso was taken to Sunrise Hospital where he was treated for
injuries including a broken back, rib, and nose.
Clark County District Attorney
David Roger refused police requests to prosecute the assailants.
Sound familiar? Kansas tourist
Kirk Henry was crippled at another strip club years earlier, and the same
District Attorney refused to prosecute the assailant who was a club employee.
In Henry's case, the FBI had to intervene after David Roger threw out the
Treasures Gentleman's Club, Las Vegas
In the most recent case,
the accused thugs were Jason Overton, his brother Keith Overton, and two
others only identified in police reports as John and Joey. After being
informed they may be subject to prosecution, the Overtons hired Las Vegas
City Councilman Steve Wolfson as their criminal defense attorney. (It's
suspected that Treasures is paying for Wolfson's services.)
Treasures is represented by attorney Ross Goodman who is the son of LV
Mayor Oscar Goodman, and because a councilman was hired to defend the suspects,
speculation arose that the perpetuators would go unpunished, and the club
would be held unaccountable for shirking its responsibility to provide
a safe atmosphere for patrons.
Two years later, that speculation
proved to be completely accurate.
Treasures holds a Privileged
Business License overseen by the Mayor and his City Council. In
2004, I wrote an INSIDE VEGAS column
about Treasures having a run-in with the City. The club began doing business
with the Goodman Law Group, and the problems immediately went away. Some
said the arrangement resembled a shake down.
Following receipt of an 83
page Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department DECLARATION OF WARRANT/SUMMONS
regarding Grasso's attack, DA Roger continued his pattern when crimes involve
politically connected strip clubs. Roger closed the Grasso case even though
his assailants were professional kick boxers capable of causing fatal injuries.
has long been known for taking political campaign contributions from the
adult industry, then looking the other way when contributors or their
relatives are accused of crimes.
Roger's arbitrary and capricious
decisions regarding who to prosecute -- and who to not, became fodder for
local news stories.
David Roger (LV Review-Journal), Mayor Goodman shaking hands with
This was not the first time
Roger ignored police requests to prosecute persons involved with local
strip clubs. In 2003, Metro asked him to prosecute the Crazy Horse Too
bouncer who crippled Kirk Henry in September 2001. Roger refused.
On September 13, 2008, Ralph
Rizzolo, brother of convicted racketeer Rick
Rizzolo, allegedly tried to commit suicide by crashing
a Mercedes at high speed into the shuttered Crazy Horse Too building. At
the time, the building was under forfeiture by the United States of America,
and Rizzolo did substantial damage that had to be repaired at taxpayer's
expense. Even though Rizzolo was found to be driving under the influence,
and damaged public property, David Roger did not feel the need to prosecute.
In January 2009, police requested
that Roger vigorously prosecute Rick Rizzolo's son Dominic for stabbing
a man during an extortion attempt. Again, DA Roger refused and Dominic
got off with probation in Judge Jackie Glass's District Court. (Judge Glass
is Steve Wolfson's wife.)
It's not as if the evidence
or probable cause was not there. In three of these cases, innocent victims
suffered serious injuries. But a pattern has developed showing that if
perpetuators were somehow involved with the strip clubs that donated to
his campaigns, Roger would let them off.
In the case of Michael Galardi,
the former owner of several strip clubs that donated to Roger's campaigns,
the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Galardi accused Roger
of accepting $20,000 in unreported cash, though Roger steadfastly denied
Roger's three past actions
speak louder than words when it comes to ignoring violent incidents involving
his strip club benefactors, and innocent locals and tourists have paid
dearly for his favoritism.
Grasso (shown in hospital photo) is a 46 year old man weighing 150 pounds.
According to a police statement, he was punched in the face by one of four
men standing near him at the bar while he was drinking a bottled water
and talking to dancer Lorena Griffin.
According to Griffin's statement,
she told him the four men were talking about him and suggested they move
away. She said Grasso responded, "Why should we move? I'm not doing anything
wrong." He was then punched in the face by one of the men and knocked unconscious.
He told police he didn't see the punch coming, and woke up on the floor
with Treasures personnel trying to revive him.
Grasso was taken to the men's
room by a club employee to tend to a cut over his eye. There, he was informed
that the four men were thrown out of the club and it would be safe for
him to return to the bar to get a cold compress to place over his wound.
Unbeknownst to Grasso or
the employees assisting him, other Treasures employees had allowed the
four men to return inside the club.
Seconds after leaving the
men's room, the four men attacked Grasso knocking him to the floor and
repeatedly kicking him. According to a Treasures security officer, club
employees reportedly intervened but were unable to stop the beating until
Grasso was severely injured, Another witness said Grasso was seconds
away from being killed if the four men had not been pulled away.
Asked why the four assailants
were allowed back into the club, Treasures' general manager Alson Lee told
INSIDE VEGAS that Grasso was intoxicated and acting "obnoxious." He said
Grasso started both "fights," and was exploiting the incident to try to
force the club to pay him millions of dollars.
Toxicology reports indicate
Grasso had no alcohol or drugs in his system when he was admitted to Sunrise
According to the Las Vegas
Metropolitan Police Department Voluntary Statement of Treasures security
officer Garrett Millick: "...I know that from what other people said that
the four gentlemen work for some sort of fighting, training, boxing clinic
of some sort. The four men have been in and out of here for a long time.
When they come in, they always buy dinner. They're usually well behaved
up until they start drinking, and that's usually when they get mouthy and
a little bit edgy - they're anger is easily excited. That's usually
when we ask them to leave."
Treasures employees who asked
to remain anonymous told INSIDE VEGAS that the four men were known as big
spenders, and were mostly left alone by club management as long as they
were throwing cash around.
Millick's statement continued:
"They'd had problems with us months ago and were asked not to come back
for some time. They didn't come back for three months. Then they returned
and apologized. They were well behaved for several weeks but had another
incident where they were asked to not do something. They told the management
basically they could do whatever they wanted inside the club. They were
asked to leave again, and they apologized again for their actions, and
it was this particular night that they came back in and this happened."
"We tried to get rid of them
several times. I don't know if they'd been friends of somebody in particular,
or what had happened, but we repeatedly attempted to get rid of them, and
them not come in. The information wasn't spread around enough to all of
our staff. 'Hey, don't let these guys in!' It's now obvious that these
guys shouldn't be coming in there. They're bad news," concluded Millick.
After reviewing the 83 pages
of sworn statements and police reports, in June 2007, DA David Roger dropped
the case. When Grasso learned of Roger's decision, he hired an attorney
and filed a civil lawsuit
Twenty months after Grasso's
beating, management at Treasures gave an entirely different account of
On February 9, 2008, Treasures
Director of Marketing Justin Butler wrote an email stating: "The individual
that was beaten up instigated a fight because of what he was saying to
the other four men. They warned him several times to leave them alone,
however he insisted on continuing. Because of this, a fight ensued and
our staff intervened immediately. One of our hosts was even kicked in the
ribs while trying to protect this guy. When it was calmed down, both parties
were escorted out of the building through different exits in an attempt
to avoid another fight. Unfortunately, this guy ran around the building
and started talking more mess to the other guys so they attacked him again.
The club offered to cover the medical bills. However when this offer was
made the injuries all of a sudden became to the point he tried to say he
could never work again and that he was suing the club."
Justin Butler and Alson Lee's
use of the word "fight" is highly debatable. Four professional fighters
in their twenties, each weighing in excess of 180 pounds, kicking a 150
pound middle aged man until his ribs and back are fractured does not describe
a "fight" in my vocabulary.
Grasso's civil lawsuit names
the four men and Treasures as defendants. However, he's finding it almost
impossible to gain traction in the local court system especially when esteemed
attorneys Wolfson and Goodman are expected to tell the court that the District
Attorney found no evidence to prosecute the four men.
Another blow to Grasso's
case is that the video tapes of the incident could not be located though
Treasures has video surveillance cameras mounted throughout the interior
and exterior of the building. In the meantime, Grasso's medical bills go
unpaid and he's on constant pain medication. Physicians are recommending
he undergo complex back surgery.
In Kirk Henry's case, he
was beaten outside another Vegas strip club in 2001, resulting in permanent
quadriplegia. Unlike Grasso's case, Henry's assailant was a club employee.
District Attorney David Roger refused to prosecute Henry's assailant or
the strip club, and the club's owner refused to pay his medical expenses.
Henry had no other option but to file a civil lawsuit in state court against
the now-defunct Crazy Horse Too and its former owner Rick Rizzolo. District
Court Judge Jackie Glass was assigned the case. By coincidence, she is
the wife of Steve Wolfson, the same city councilman/criminal defense attorney
now representing the thugs in the Grasso beating case.
So far, Judge Glass has stalled
all of Henry's efforts in state court thereby forcing his attorneys to
seek justice in the U.S. Federal Court system where his case is slowly
moving forward. Grasso's case has yet to be assigned a judge, but because
Wolfson is involved, Judge Glass is ruled out. In the meantime, Glass'
husband is rumored to be exploring the possibilities of running for Mayor
in 2011, and savvy local politicians know to solicit cash contributions
from strip clubs as their first order of business in a campaign.
David Roger is expected to
run for higher office based on him throwing the book at defendants in high
profile nationally televised cases. Roger vigorously prosecuted O.J.
Simpson and Charles
Barkley, two cases in which no one was injured. The Simpson case was
coincidentally tried by Judge Glass, another ambitious politician rumored
to be interested in a seat on the state Supreme Court. Roger also recently
threw the book at a gambler who stiffed
a local casino $14 million -- again, no one was injured, but the casino
is a big political campaign contributor. However, when it comes to those
who commit violent crimes involving certain strip clubs, Roger consistently
finds inadequate or unsubstantiated criminal evidence causing the cases
to be considered damaged goods before they reach the civil courts.
Las Vegas like most tourist
destinations is suffering during this recession. Instead, we should take
advantage of the slow times to do everything in our power to clean house
so we can attract new business and tourism during and after the downturn.
This includes insuring a safe atmosphere for patrons of "Sin City's" many
LATE BREAKING DEVELOPMENT:
Insiders in the strip club industry speculate that the brothers involved
in the above story are paid by competing club owners to cause disruptions
in targeted adult business. However, there is no excuse for allowing the
trouble makers to time and again re-enter a business after they were barred.