Like Swatting a Fly in the Middle of a Buffalo
After losing costly appeal, Rizzolo finally pays $238
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 24, 2004
"Its like he's trying to swat a pesky fly with a sledge
hammer while a herd of buffalos are charging at him. He's so preoccupied
trying to get the fly that he doesn't feel the earth trembling under his
feet." -- Buffalo Jim Barrier
Dapper Rick Rizzolo
Buffalo Jim Barrier (Las Vegas Review Journal photos)
LAS VEGAS - Embattled Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo employed the
prestigious law firm of Patti
and Sgro to fight a multi-hundred-dollar small claims lawsuit brought
by his tenant. In the meantime he's facing federal indictments for racketeering.
The attorney's fees to unsuccessfully fight the $238 small claim are estimated
to have exceeded $5,000!
A man such as Rick Rizzolo should have much more important things on
his mind, like fighting the feds, and possibly picking up a competitor's
palace for dimes on the dollar with help from city hall. But instead he
seems preoccupied with a funky garage and its colorful owner.
To make a long story short, on April 16, 2004, Clark County District
Court Senior Judge Stephen Huffaker ordered Rizzolo to pay his next door
neighbor, Buffalo Jim Barrier, $238 plus court costs for illegally towing
a 1947 restored car owned by one of Barrier's auto garage customers. Rizzolo's
lawyers appealed the decision.
On Monday, May 17, Clark County Justice Court Judge Ann Zimmerman upheld
the earlier judgment and ordered Rizzolo to stop towing cars owned by Barrier's
Barrier, who takes pride in his American Indian heritage, claims his
new landlord is harassing him so he'll move out to make way for a new building.
Barrier has been at the same address since 1976, long before the Crazy
Horse opened. The former pro wrestler won't budge and Rizzolo refuses to
buy him out. Meanwhile, new clubs are opening throughout the city.
From Crazy Horse
Following the second small claims verdict, Barrier sent Rizzolo a Ten
Day Notice stating that if the multi-hundred-dollar judgment was not paid
by May 28, he would place a lien on his Canyon Gate estate. The judgment
was paid in cash three days later.
On Monday, Barrier filed another small claim against Rizzolo for $3,950,
this time for allegedly twice tampering
with the water lines on his rooftop evaporative coolers. The problem occurred
three times in the past two years on the hottest days, and each time Barrier
had to close his business until the lines could be replaced. Rizzolo is
insured for such vandalism but has refused to pay for repairs or make a
claim on his policy. This inspired Barrier to install cameras on his roof
and in his business along with a high tech burglar alarm system..
Crimped water line, 4/14/04
The vandalism and illegal towing began in 2002 after Rizzolo bought
the 2.3 acre industrial center for $5.5 million. Shortly thereafter, Patti
and Sgro filed an action to evict Barrier on behalf of their client. The
court ruled in the garage owner's favor.
When the problems escalated, attorney Gus Flangas on behalf of Barrier
sued Rizzolo in District Court for harassment.
Rizzolo countered by suing Barrier for defamation of character and slander.*
The combined trial was taken off District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti's
calendar on December 17, 2003 when US District Judge Philip Pro put a stay
on discovery of records from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
regarding criminal activities at the Crazy
Horse Too. The stay is still in effect pending federal indictments.
But Rizzolo may not have much longer to worry about his next door nemesis.
Indictments are expected later this summer, in the meantime there are rumors
he may be able to relocate his bar and end what's become the Vegas version
of the "Battle
of Little Big Horn" before the indictments are handed down.
Treasures, a nearby gentleman's club, opened in 2003 after Rizzolo tried
to use his political connections
its liquor license. Treasures was built at the cost of more than $30 million
and makes the aging Crazy Horse look like an old nag in comparison. Unfortunately,
its owners are not as politically connected as Mr. Rizzolo, and are in
trouble with the city attorney for four charges of soliciting prostitution
and more than a dozen dance-code citations.
The city attorney works at the pleasure of the current mayor who brags
about being in control of city hall. On April 2, Goodman startled local
government observers by saying:
"I want to make it very, very clear that as the mayor of the city of Las
Vegas, I'm going to run the city the way I want to run the city!"
This in spite of the fact that Las Vegas has a city manager form of government.
left, and Hassan Davari, right,
Treasures (The Prize?)
leave Las Vegas City Hall on March
after the City Council delayed
on a permanent liquor license for
strip club, Treasures.
(LV Review Journal photo
by Jeff Scheid)
Keep in mind that the Crazy Horse Too has been subject of over 737 police
responses including 9 for assaults and 6 for robberies involving bar
employees over a two-year-period, but the mayor and city attorney can find
with this privileged licensed business. Only Treasures has aroused the
city's ire for four charges of soliciting prostitution and dance-code citations.
For this reason, the owners of Treasures accused the city this week of
out their business.
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman vigorously objected
to the original licensing of Treasures and its owners Ali
and Hassan Davari. He placed unprecedented conditions on a temporary liquor
license. In the meantime, violence and other illegal acts continued unabated
at the Crazy Horse Too just down the street.
Then Goodman suddenly became "Silent Sam"
when his son Ross
Goodman starting representing the Davari brothers against the city.
This created a conflict of interest that stopped the mayor from speaking
about or voting on the Davari's permanent license. For this reason, I have
a sneaking hunch that something is secretly happening behind the scenes
at city hall, something designed to persuade the Davaris to liquidate their
On January 29 2004, Goodman stated,
anybody tells me I can't help my son, who I love, they can drop dead."
Five weeks later, Goodman took an arrow for his son when he was ruled in
of the state ethics law that bars public officials from securing "unwarranted
privileges" for their family.
Goodman is a former mob attorney who unabashedly maintains ties
with former criminal defense clients connected
to Rizzolo. Goodman also has two fledgling-attorney sons who he is trying
to help. I'm probably wrong, but being that Ross is new to the lawyer game,
he could lose a first case or two without suffering permanent career damage
and still come out on top with a little more help from his Pop.
I've never trusted a former mob lawyer who represented killers calling
them misunderstood, innocent businessmen, then after getting elected sees
nothing wrong with hosting
mobsters at his personal residence and at city hall, With this in mind,
I can't help but smell something fishy in the Sin City air right about
Goodman and Tony Spilotro
In my mind, the Davaris may have thought it wise to hire the mayor's
son to represent them if city officials try to speed up their prosecution
to bolster the city's case for revoking their liquor license. I'm also
imagining it could be possible they hired local lawyers with hidden agendas
and loyalties, but I've always had an overactive imagination.
I still can't help imagining that if Rizzolo et al, were to somehow
get the Treasures building for dimes on the dollar, a huge secret bonus
could go to somebody for purposely blowing the case. Furthermore, it will
be fascinating to see who the municipal judge will be that might rule against
the Davaris, and if he or she took campaign money from Rizzolo? The bar
owner is famous after all for donating huge amounts to the political campaigns
of municipal judges.
Two thing's are for sure if my imaginings are accurate. If Rick Rizzolo
et al, get the Treasures building for dimes on the dollar; he'll have room
to build his own on-site trauma center, and Buffalo Jim Barrier will have
peace on the reservation until his garage lease expires in 2009.
But of course, I'm just dreaming -- aren't I? Vegas is much too straight-arrow
a place for such a thing to happen...
Victims of the Crazy Horse Too:
(Jim Barrier photo)
* The author is a a consultant in a civil lawsuit
against Frederick Rizzolo
* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas'
scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com