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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:

Rizzolo throws a technicality at the court
Dumps Patti & Sgro and hires a Mormon law firm

14. At no time since the purchase on or about April 30, 2002,

has title to the Real Property been conveyed from RICRIZ
to defendant RIZZOLO.

18. The real property is vested in RICRIZ and not
defendant Rizzolo, and therefore the
Assets Order (forfeiture) is invalid.

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
October 1, 2007

LAS VEGAS - If the well connected attorneys at Lionel, Sawyer, and Collins earn their hefty fee, associates of their newest client Rick Rizzolo might be back breaking necks at the Crazy Horse Too topless bar before the end of the year.

In an amazing show of disrespect to his former store front lawyers, Dean Patti and Tony Sgro, Rizzolo welched on over $80,000 in legal bills and switched over to a politically connected Mormon law firm with offices in
Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City, and Washington, D.C.

Lionel, Sawyer, and Collins have ties to United States Senator Harry Reid and are closely associated with former U. S. Senator Richard Bryan,
former Nevada Governor Bob Miller, and Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid who is Harry's son. Unlike criminal defense lawyers Patti & Sgro who were fiercely loyal to their biggest client but usually lost Rizzolo's cases, Lionel, Sawyer, and Collins are not known for defending criminals, but are accustomed to being on the winning side in civil cases in Nevada's State and Federal courts where they are well known for being the driving force behind the election or appointment of most Nevada State and Federal Judges.

In fact, I cannot remember the name of any sitting Nevada judge who was elected or appointed without the firm's prior blessings.

Lionel, Sawyer, and Collins is the best money can buy, and it takes millions of dollars to get such a legitimate law firm to stoop so low as to hide assets from beating and murder victims, but for a price that's exactly what they are doing for Rick and Lisa Rizzolo.

Immediately following Rick and Lisa's hasty divorce in 2005, and four years after beating victim Kirk Henry filed his attempted murder civil lawsuit against Rizzolo and the Crazy Horse,  the Rizzolos began their relationship with Lionel, Sawyer, and Collins by hiring asset protection specialist John E. Dawson to form a number of new legal entities in which to hide their assets from any judgment Henry and others with claims against the Crazy Horse might win.

The Rizzolo's timing was very suspicious because in addition to Henry's ongoing case, the widow and daughters of Scott David Fau who was beaten to death by Crazy Horse bouncers in 1995, were working with new attorneys to re-file their wrongful death civil lawsuit. This was also in 2006 when Dawson began hiding his client's assets -- a time in history when violence at the Crazy Horse Too was becoming a top story.

Another case, a harassment lawsuit brought by Crazy Horse neighbor Buffalo Jim Barrier was also awaiting trial and being reported in the news. So Dawson hid assets fully knowing his actions could be considered fraudulent. However, I cannot remember a time in Nevada history when a Lionel, Sawyer, and Collins attorney faced disciplinary action, so Dawson must've felt he could get away with fraud -- for the right price. This is Nevada after all!

Rizzolo only carried a one million dollar umbrella insurance policy, and without being able to attach his and his wife's personal assets, the Henrys and Faus would find it nearly impossible to get lawyers to take their cases on contingency. But before John Dawson went to work, they did find good lawyers to take their cases, though that might not last long in the Henry's case if Rizzolo's latest legal move gains traction. Mrs. Fau's new attorneys have pledged to go to the mat with Rizzolo no matter what, but Henry's lawyers look exhausted and ready to settle for dimes on the dollar to get the case behind them -- exactly what the Rizzolo's and John Dawson are asking the court to let happen.

Keep in mind that Rick and Lisa Rizzolo were married at the time most of the crimes occurred, so she's fifty percent responsible for paying judgments in cases filed before her 2005 divorce. The Henry, Fau, and Barrier cases were all filed before 2005.

Even though these cases were front page news, Dawson went to work in 2006 in the middle of a highly publicized Federal investigation and found legal shelters fully knowing his client's despicable intentions, and that the court could easily reverse his actions.

It seems that making a quick buck easily overrode common sense for attorney Dawson.

John Dawson is the brother U. S. Federal Court Judge Kent Dawson who was at the time presiding over the trials of 16 Crazy Horse Too defendants accused of robbery, extortion, and battery. Nonetheless, Judge Dawson's brother immediately transferred the couple's three homes, annuities, land under the Philadelphia Crazy Horse Too, and other valuables into the
newly formed RILI LLCDOMOLE LLCNAMES NEVADA, LLCLIONS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, and the Lisa M. Rizzolo Separate Property Trust.

John Dawson is listed as Corporate Agent on all the above shell corporations.

The divorce and all asset transfers occurred after law suits were filed and after Rick Rizzolo began negotiating his plea agreement.

According to another attorney with Dawson's firm, a Limited Liability Corporation called RICRIZ LLC already owned the Crazy Horse Too since 2002. Therein lies the discrepancy Rizzolo claims will invalidate the government's taking of his business and property on August 14, 2007. RICRIZ LLC is not named in any legal documents filed in Federal Court (example of listing on left).

Bare with me if this all sounds terribly complicated. That is the full intention of the lawyers working for Rizzolo -- to muddy the legal waters so he can get his criminal enterprise back without the public having a clue what happened to make it possible.

John Dawson made sure that new LLCs and Trusts were solely owned by the "Rick and Lisa Rizzolo Family Trust," thereby creating numerous layers of protection for the Rizzolo's fortune. In other words, if these layers are allowed to stand, the Rizzolo's are judgment proof!

According to a PETITION AND REQUEST FOR HEARING filed on Friday, September 28 by attorney Fred "Pete" Gibson, III, a terrible mistake was made by prosecutors in "OPERATION CRAZY HORSE" that resulted in the erroneous forfeiture of the infamous topless bar and real estate.
Gibson argues that the saloon and property were confiscated from the wrong owner based on the headings of virtually every document filed in the case with the U.S. Federal Court. Gibson contends that the Crazy Horse is still owned by his client RICRIZ LLC -- not Frederick Rizzolo, and because RICRIZ LLC was never listed as a defendant, the taking was invalid and should be reversed.

In Nevada, LLCs, Spendthrift Family Trusts, and shell corporations are treated as autonomous entities too often fraudulently used as a means to insulate guilty parties from liability in legitimate lawsuits. In Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's case, the couple found the right lawyer at the right time to devise a scheme to protect their millions.

The Rizzolos made a brilliant choice in John Dawson, brother of the Federal Court Judge who gave 16 of Rizzolo's former Crazy Horse employees the lightest sentences possible for crimes they committed on Crazy Horse customers -- crimes that made the Rizzolo's filthy rich.

Judge Dawson, who was appointed for life by U.S. Senator Harry Reid, did not disclose his brother's employment by the Rizzolos during the 2006 trials of the "Crazy Horse 16."

Being a Federal Court Judge for life, little can be done to punish him for nondisclosure.

What is the next trick Rizzolo and his new lawyers have up their sleeves?

Rizzolo's legal team will present the argument that the government confiscated property from the wrong person. That Frederick John Rizzolo does not own the forfeited Crazy Horse Too. His corporation RICRIZ LLC does, and it should be given back the property.

Just a technicality? Sure. But in Nevada's political/judicial environment, it might just work.

The lawyers argue that Rizzolo should be allowed to recover his property (most likely to sell it to a straw man and remain in charge behind the scenes).

The wording in Rizzolo's PETITION goes so far as to emphasize the autonomy of LLCs and Family Trusts as if they were individual human beings totally innocent of the crimes 17 persons were convicted of committing at the Crazy Horse.

Here is the last page from the PETITION that spells out Rizzolo's
amazing request to the court (click on image to enlarge):

U.S. Federal Court Chief Judge Philip Pro has not yet set a date to hear the above PETITION.  When he does, it will be fascinating to observe RICRIZ LLC's arguments that Rick Rizzolo is not liable for overseeing and condoning the brutality that inspired 17 felony convictions and the forfeiture of the "LLC's" land and building. That the felonies occurred at the hands of a corporation... and only the corporation should receive punishment.

If the Judge agrees that Rizzolo through his corporations and family trust is only a "third party" to the brutality, then a dangerous precedent will be set.

In addition to Kirk Henry's $9 million lien ($1 million has been paid by Rizzolo's insurance),
Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez also granted Crazy Horse neighbor Buffalo Jim Barrier an additional $1 million dollar lien on the Crazy Horse property that is currently being evaluated by an appraiser commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Following release of the appraisal, the property is expected to be sold to the highest bidder. However, because the property no longer possesses an active liquor license and has been shuttered since July 1, it's being considered at "warehouse" value by the Federal government.
The Nevada Dept. of Transportation has announced it intends to take a 23 foot deep swath of the property's frontage for a road widening. This fact, in addition to toxic waste found on the property and its proximity to the Sahara overpass and railroad tracks is expected to render the value somewhere between $6 and 10 million.
Anyone who offers more than the appraised value will come under heavy scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Justice who do not want to see organized crime figures regain control of the business and property.
Because Judge Pro has already ruled that Kirk Henry will be paid his $9 million before anyone else is paid including the IRS and bank, the balance not covered by the real estate sale must come from the personal assets of Rick and Lisa Rizzolo, or go unpaid if the judge takes Lionel, Sawyer, and Collins' PETITION seriously.

These debts include over $5 million owed to the IRS, $2.3 million claimed by the City of Las Vegas, the recent request by Patti & Sgro for a lien to recover $80,400.00 in unpaid legal fees, and a request for payment from Security Pacific Bank for $4,853,026.28 plus interest for a defaulted $5 million dollar mortgage Rizzolo took out in 2005 before skipping town with the proceeds, according to the FBI.

Rizzolo may have taken advantage of his long time friendship with former LV Mayor Jan Jones to obtain the $5 million loan. She was formerly a Director and stock holder in the bank.

Security Pacific Bank has filed papers with Judge Pro saying Rizzolo obtained the loan after making "material misrepresentations" (click on image to enlarge):

If all claims are approved by Judge Pro, the Industrial Road property will be encumbered for over four times its expected market value making it impossible to sell. No buyer would invest in a clouded property. So Judge Pro will be forced to either pierce John Dawson's phony corporate veils and go after Rick and Lisa's Rizzolo's hidden personal assets, or award pennies on the dollar to creditors in order to clear the tittle so one of Rizzolo's crony's can possibly steal the club and resume the extortion practices that it profited from.

That can actually happen if the Feds let down their guard and succumb to the pressure generated by Lionel, Sawyer, and Collins.

But Judge Pro also knows that the divorce and asset transfers occurred after law suits were filed and after Rick Rizzolo began negotiating his plea agreement. The judge can also clearly see that Rizzolo intended to defraud Security Pacific Bank by withholding information, and fraudulently kept the proceeds from the re-fi.

Judge Pro can't help but see the fraud per se that took place in hiding the Rizzolo's assets after the fact. So it's fully expected that he will continue making just rulings in this case no matter what law firm represents Rizzolo.

But aside from that, as a long time Nevadan, I'm completely astounded that a law firm with such a sterling reputation would align themselves with such a crook! After trying to perpetrate such a scam, Judge Pro should throw the book at Rizzolo for conspiracy and contempt of court, and put him away for a far longer sentence than the year and one day he received in January 2007.

INSIDE VEGAS will be at the hearing and readers will be the first to know the outcome if they subscribe to the free STEVE MILLER'S INSIDER E-BRIEFS.

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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