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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:

Like a bad nickel, it just
keeps coming back

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
October 16, 2006

"I don't feel confident going forward at this time."  "We need to go forward with a microscope." - Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese

"We want a divorce from those who pleaded guilty and the operation and management of this business." - City Attorney Brad Jerbic

"It's inconceivable that a man of Mike's background and credibility would be denied." - Steve Caruso, attorney for Mike Signorelli

"I met Mr. Rizzolo for the first time two weeks ago." Mike Signorelli

Mike Signorelli and City Business License Director Jim DiFiori on Oct. 4
tried to convince the City Council to grant a new temporary liquor license
( photo by Mike Christ)

LAS VEGAS - I've been writing about Las Vegas scandals since 1960. Never before has one kept coming back with such regularity as the ongoing Crazy Horse Too debacle that should have ended six weeks ago when the blood soaked topless bar was permanently shut down.

This bad nickel could not keep reappearing without help from the top floor of City Hall.

When the City Council on Oct. 4 postponed the issuance of a new temporary liquor license for the shuttered bar, attorney Steve Caruso representing applicant Michael Signorelli was very disappointed.

He touted Signorelli's stature as a businessman and former holder of a nonrestricted gaming license for a casino in Mesquite, and told the Council that his client had just met convicted felon and Crazy Horse owner Rick Rizzolo two weeks earlier.  He also stated that his client was bidding on the Riviera Hotel, and was a highly respected gaming entrepreneur and real estate developer.

The Council, in the absence of Mayor Oscar Goodman who conveniently was in Europe,  was not impressed.

"I'm not disappointed," Signorelli said condescendingly after the council's unanimous vote to postpone his request. "I don't think they had any choice but to do what they did. The documents weren't done."

As I sat in the back of the Council Chambers watching, I couldn't help but remember Amy Henry, the wife of the man whose neck was broken by a Crazy Horse manager, telling KVBC TV News, "I can't understand what kind of city or state would allow a place like this to remain in business?"

It was the same Amy Henry on Sept. 6, the day the Council permanently revoked the Crazy Horse Too's liquor license and stopped decades of violence, who contradicted her previous statement and asked the Council to let the bar stay open so her family and their Las Vegas attorneys can get paid, but her r
equest would inadvertently expose more Kirk Henry's to getting their necks broken for refusing to pay inflated bar tabs, and I'm sure that's not her intention.

Part of Rick Rizzolo's plea agreement stipulated that he would sell the Crazy Horse, and from the proceeds pay Henry $10 million, and the IRS approx. $7 million. U.S. Federal Court Chief Judge Philip Pro, however, made no mention of immediately attaching Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's personal assets which are estimated to be worth over $20 million in the event the Crazy Horse was permanently shut down by the City, and consequently lost its value.

Well, that's exactly what happened, and its now up to Judge Pro to reverse the Rizzolo's very convenient divorce settlement from 2005 wherein Rick gave his ex-wife most of his wealth including $7.2 million in cash, and $85,000 per month in alimony -- money Rizzolo should give to the Henry's and IRS to satisfy his moral and legal obligations. But Rick and Lisa Rizzolo have never offered Kirk Henry one cent from their personal fortune, and no one expects them to make any effort to honor their obligation without the Federal Judge's intervention.

Rick Rizzolo has a million dollar line of credit in several Strip casinos and is known as a Whale, but for Kirk Henry who was a victim of Crazy Horse greed and sadism, Rizzolo is not expected to be charitable, and if the Feds want the City to reopen the place so money can be generated, it's only going to add insult to injury.

As far as Signorelli goes, he may not get very far after it was revealed he's had two bankruptcies in fifteen years, and is a business partner of an ex-felon accused of having Mob ties.

Sunday's Nevada Observer explained it best:

Signorelli has commented that he is willing to pay as much as $400,000 per month rent, and buy the business, which currently doesn't exist, for as much as $45 million. There are numerous questions being asked about Signorelli's finances.  He has been in bankruptcy twice and allegedly has underworld connections, as does the current owner of the Crazy Horse Too, Rick Rizzolo.  The amounts of money being discussed has raised eyebrows of more than one investigator, but not the City Attorney or District Attorney. Is there enough bare skin available to allow a lessee to make $400,000 per month rent payments?  Not according to tax records, so that money must come from somewhere.  Answers to where the money might come from to make huge rent payments include such as skimmed profits, or in-house prostitution that isn't reported, or maybe drug distribution networks?  Four hundred thousand dollars per month is an extraordinary amount of money and most in the commercial real estate business are scoffing at the idea."

The Observer continued:

"This much money being developed by convicted criminals, previous trials dealing with corrupt politicians and other representatives of equally sleazy operations, and virtually no effort on the part of local law enforcement, in particular city and county attorneys to conduct grand jury investigations all point to a conspiracy to defraud.  The only investigations that have taken place have been at the federal level.  The only charges and convictions that have happened have come at the federal level.  A perception of corruption has tainted the governments of the City of Las Vegas and the County of Clark."

It's common knowledge that Clark County District Attorney Dave Roger accepted, then said he returned $40,000 in campaign contributions from Rizzolo during better times.  This is the same DA who refused to prosecute after Kirk Henry's neck was broken.

In the meantime, over 737 calls in three years for service to the LV Metro Police did not result in arrests of bar employees. In fact, many resulted in the arrests of the complaining parties instead.

And there's always the pesky notion that Metro ignores calls to 911 reporting drunken or drugged drivers launching out of  the Crazy Horse parking lot into the nearby low income neighborhood that's full of small children. When complaints were made, dispatchers reportedly told callers to call Crazy Horse "security" to make their complaints, and hung up.

And there's Jim DiFiori, the man at City Hall who is responsible for scheduling Show Cause (license revocation) hearings. DiFiori has ignored hundreds of requests to bring the Crazy Horse before the Council to show cause why they deserved to hold a privileged business license.

In the meantime, the beatings continued.

Now the Crazy Horse sits dark -- its parking lot empty while crime in nearby Meadows Village, the low income neighborhood across Industrial Road,  has commensurately ceased and children play in the streets without fear of being killed by a drunk or drugged driver from the Crazy Horse.

Why would anyone at City Hall, especially the Mayor, want to resume the carnage?

It was recently disclosed that Oscar Goodman and his partner Jay Brown, prior to Goodman being elected Mayor, served as the Resident Agents for Rizzolo's corporation, "The Power Company, Inc."

He also was Rizzolo's criminal defense attorney when Rizzolo pleaded guilty to beating a man with a baseball bat. The man died three years later of his injuries, and Rizzolo didn't spend a day in jail.

Goodman also shamelessly reported receiving $40,000 from Rizzolo during his last uncontested mayoral campaign.

In any other state -- one with strong ethics laws -- such a revelation would certainly inspire abstention from an elected official, but not in Sin City, Nevada, and not from Oscar Goodman!

Goodman persists in saying he is for the re-licensing of his former client's bloody bar, and insists he has no conflict of interest in helping to do so. I strongly disagree, and have filed an amended complaint with the State Ethics Commission to prove my point. A two member committee consisting of Commission members is set to review my amended complaint that includes the Resident Agent, and $40,000 information.

Meanwhile, Goodman has been heard touting the credibility of Signorelli, saying he's a legitimate businessman, and would be a fit operator of the Crazy Horse.

However, Goodman neglects to mention Signorelli's two bankruptcies including one in the mid 1980's that involved several hundred thousand dollars, and another involving his Mesquite casino after it was open for a little over a year.

During the Oct. 4 Council hearing, attorney Caruso bragged about his client's success in the gaming industry, but
failed to mention that Signorelli opened the Mesquite Star Casino in June 1998,
and a little over a year later was bankrupt and accused of looting employee's pay checks.

During happier times, Signorelli's company, NevStar Gaming, sent out the following Press Release

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Michael Signorelli, said, 'These two awards reflect the quality of management and staff at Mesquite Star. We are proud of their accomplishments and professionalism in building an enviable reputation in a very competitive market.'"


"'There are 100-some employees whose paychecks were looted to the tune of $450,000 to $750,000 in claims,' argued Matt Callister, one of the lawyers representing the workers. 'They will be out in the cold unless there's a stay.'  The former employees allege their health coverage was regularly deducted from their paychecks but that the money was diverted -- no one knows where. The misuse was only discovered when medical claims came back denied, Callister said." - LV Review-Journal

Also, a number of people have for many years observed Signorelli in the company of Rizzolo at the Golden Steer Steak House; Signorelli's restaurant located a few blocks from the Crazy Horse.

If Signorelli can't give a straight answer to the Council on how long he's known Rizzolo, how can he be trusted when he says he'll purchase the Crazy Horse property for $45 Million, or pay a ridiculous $400,000 per month rent to buy?

A recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing shows plans to sell the 27 acre former Las Vegas Strip site of Wet and Wild for $450 million or $16.7 million per acre, to build a $4 billion, 4,500-suite megaresort.
On Sept. 6, Signorelli told the Council he'll pay Rizzolo $45 million, or $16.9 million per acre for the 2.65 acre Crazy Horse Too real estate and buildings -- $200,000 per acre more than valuable Strip land goes for!
The CH2 real estate is under threat of eminent domain seizure; is a half mile from the Strip; doesn't have a liquor license; and is in a high crime neighborhood adjacent to the railroad tracks and a noisy overpass.
But that doesn't deter "Doctor" Signorelli who after two disastrous bankruptcies in 15 years, plans to build, not one, but two forty story condo towers on Rizzolo's land!  However, a recent soil test says the land, because of vibrations caused by freight trains and other factors, would not safely support even ten story buildings.

Then there's this tid bit about Signorell's corporation from the
February 11, 2000 Las Vegas Review-Journal:  

"Nevstar Gaming & Entertainment Corp.'s independent auditor, McGladrey & Pullen LLC, resigned Dec. 22, a Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows. McGladrey's independent auditors report for the year ended June 30, 1998, raised 'substantial doubt' about Nevstar's ability to continue as a going concern... Mesquite-based Nevstar, a development stage company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief Dec. 1, citing assets and liabilities of $22 million and $23 million, respectively. At the time of the petition filing, the company's appraised value was $34 million."

If the above isn't enough to discourage the City Council on Wednesday, Oct. 18 when they are scheduled to consider Signorelli's suitability for privileged licensing, maybe these paragraphs from Rizzolo's lease will!

"Tenant shall operate the Business... in substantially the same manner as the Business was being operated on the date it was closed..."
GOD FORBID! The place was described as a "public nuisance" by City Attorney Brad Jerbic, and as a "threat to the community" by the U.S. Dept. of Justice! Who would want it to continue operating in the same manner?
"... tenant shall hire and retain all management personnel of Landlord in connection with the operation of the business, at the same compensation paid by Landlord, and shall not terminate any such employee except with consent of Landlord...  Landlord shall have unlimited access to the premises... and Mr. Rick Rizzolo shall retain complete access to his office..."
What a stupid lease! If the Council falls for this, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell them!

The Federal plea agreement stipulated that Rizzolo cannot step one foot on the property after he gets out of prison. This paragraph means the same goons who beat bar patrons to a pulp, and the goon who owns the building can run roughshod over the place while the stupid tenant pays Rizzolo $400,000 per month for the privilege of having them hang around! What a deal!

Or maybe this will make the Council think twice:

Section 4 of LVMC 19.04.040 (b): "If any such business is terminated or is abandoned for a period of at least thirty days, any future use of the property shall conform to the provisions of Ordinance 3674."

The Crazy Horse Too has been closed since September 6, 2006. The business has been "terminated and abandoned" for over 30 days, therefore it cannot reopen unless it complies with all sections of the current building and planning codes.

After 30 days, the business must now conform to newer codes such as:

Chapter 19.04 PERMISSIBLE USES (3) Prohibited Where—Establishment. (a)..."In addition, no person shall cause or permit the establishment of any sexually oriented business within one thousand feet of any other sexually oriented business, church, public or private school, day care, teen dance center, park or playground."

The Crazy Horse Too is less than 1,000 feet from two sexually oriented businesses, and a church.

Furthermore, the Crazy Horse Too in 1999 expanded without building permits, and without a traffic study or increased parking.

Then there's: 6.06.160 APPLICATION AFTER ADVERSE ACTION: "Any person whose license or approval for suitability has been denied, canceled or revoked may not apply for a license or approval for suitability until one year following the effective date of such action.(Ord. 2187 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-4-9(A))

If after being armed with these citations from their own laws, the Council stills falls for this line of crap, it will be obvious
City Hall is about to move to a new location three miles south!

"With the City Seal proudly displayed over its' entrance, the new City Hall 'South' awaits its' Grand Re-Opening, while Ad Hoc Mayor Rick Rizzolo prepares to continue his reign over city politics from a cell in Federal prison." - Steve Miller Insider E-Brief, Oct. 11, 2006
Caruso also boasted his client was bidding on the Riviera Hotel, but failed to mention that the Associated Press reported on Sept. 6 that the Riviera Board of Directors found that Signorelli's corporation:

did not respond adequately to requests for more information on investors and financing." "This ultimately led Riviera's board to conclude that (Signorelli's corporation) had not demonstrated its ability to complete the acquisition as proposed and, therefore, the proposal did not warrant further consideration."

In the face of this documented information, will the City Council still think he's legitimate and let him re-open the Crazy Horse Too?

On Monday, Buffalo Jim Barrier arrived in his office next to the Crazy Horse Too. He observed Rick Rizzolo's brother Ralph affixing a hand made sign to a chain across the entrance to a parking lot the Crazy Horse leases from NDOT under the Sahara overpass. He also observed Bart Rizzolo, Rick and Ralph's dad, signing for a beer delivery -- this is after the place had been closed for five weeks.
As if the topless bar was still in business and needed the parking spaces (and beer), the warning was posted. Then last Monday evening, Rick Rizzolo sent e-mails to his former dancers, and to the producer of a radio program that features items of interest to taxi drivers. The message stated that the Crazy Horse will definitely re-open on Wednesday Oct. 18. Later that evening, Rizzolo was heard telling friends that his attorneys have arranged that he will not have to spent any time in prison, and that Steve Miller and Buffalo Jim Barrier were "nuts." He also said that Miller and Barrier had nothing to do with the closure of his business.

Either he's dilusional, or the fix is in!
CITY COUNCIL AGENDA October 18, 2006
62. Hearing, discussion and possible action concerning petition for rehearing in the matter of the Department of Finance and Business Services on behalf of the City of Las Vegas, Nevada v. The Power Company, Inc. d/b/a Crazy Horse Too - Ward 3 (Reese)
64. ABEYANCE ITEM - Discussion and possible action regarding Temporary Approval of a new Tavern License, Nevada Receivership, LLC, dba Crazy Horse Too, 2476 Industrial Road, Michael J. Signorelli, Managing Mmbr, 100% - Ward 3 (Reese)

On Oct. 18, the Las Vegas City Council with Mayor Goodman expected to preside, will consider the temporary liquor license application of Mike Signorelli.

In the likely event the Council looks at Signorelli's disaster-plagued financial background though a microscope, and wisely denies his application, Goodman has placed another item on the agenda asking the Council to reconsider their Sept.. 6 permanent revocation of the CH2 liquor license, and let the Rizzolo family resume operations even though they pleaded guilty to racketeering through their corporation The Power Company.
I'll let you know the outcome in next week's INSIDE VEGAS column, or if you'd like to watch the bizarre proceedings live, go to:  at around 10 AM, Wednesday, PDT, and click on "Watch KCLV TV."

Or for the latest on what's happening in Sin City including up to the minute reports on this amazing and painfully repetitive story, subscribe to my free Insider E-Briefs.

Copyright © Steve Miller

* 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

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