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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:

"Caruso said Signorelli has worked out a $400,000-a-month
lease which includes the right to purchase the Crazy Horse
Too from Rizzolo for $45 million." --  Attorney Steve Caruso

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
October 2, 2006

LAS VEGAS - $400,000-a-month rent? Sounds like Rick Rizzolo wants to stay in this game, and continue running his criminal enterprise from behind bars.

May 31, 2006 - 16 Crazy Horse Too employees plead guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States. CH2 manager Bobby DiApice pleads guilty to racketeering.

June 1 - Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo pleads guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States. His corporation, The Power Company, pleads guilty to conspiracy to participate in an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity.

Sept. 6 - Las Vegas City Council permanently revokes the liquor license of the CH2, and fines Rizzolo $2.2 million dollars.

Sept. 6 - Citizen activist Peter "Chris" Christoff begins scouting for a location to open the Little Church of Las Vegas.

Sept. 8 - District Judge Mark Denton denies request for temporary restraining order against the City.

Sept. 12 - District Court denies request for temporary injunction and upholds license revocation, but lowers fine to $1 million.

Sept. 12 - Crazy Horse attorney Tony Sgro files petition with City Attorney requesting reconsideration of license revocation.

Sept. 14 - Mayor and Council refuse to reconsider license revocation action.

Sept. 27 - Little Church of Las Vegas files as non-profit religious organization with Secretary of State.

Sept. 27 - Little Church of Las Vegas publicly announces its' formation.

Sept. 28, 2006 - 4 PM - City posts council agenda. First official notice given of Michael Signorelli having applied for temporary liquor license to re-open Crazy Horse Too.

"Give me that good old time religion!" That's what Deacon Peter "Chris" Christoff told KTNV TV Channel 13 News when they covered the announcement of his new 1,200 sq. ft. church.

Christoff, a well known community activist since 1987, has steadfastly represented the most downtrodden neighborhood in Las Vegas commonly known as the "Naked City." In his years, he's been instrumental in helping to establish a park and community center, but his ultimate
dream was delayed until the City Council's recent action. Then, after what Christoff called "a magnet for crime" was finally shut down, he claims that Divine Inspiration caused him to finalize his dream by helping his friend and Ordained Minister, Rev. William Ahern, open the first church in the area.

Since I first met Mr. Christoff during my years at City Hall, he's been like a broken record repeatedly saying he wants to upgrade quality of life in the mostly Hispanic low income enclave that sits in the shadow of the Stratosphere Tower; a neighborhood that until recently was cursed with the most trouble plagued business ever allowed to operate in Sin City - the infamous Crazy Horse Too topless bar.

"Mysteriously, this old thorn in Rick Rizzolo's side, this crony of Steve Miller, decided to open up the church?" "They're using the law meant to protect the citizens of Las Vegas to their own advantage with bad intent. I don't think it's allowed. This is clearly a pretense, a sham." - Attorney Steve Caruso, LV Review-Journal, 9/30/06

(I'm always amazed when I'm blamed without basis for something I didn't do.)

Mr. Caruso. What "law meant to protect the citizens of Las Vegas" do you mean?

The one that protects them from robberies, beatings, skimming, credit card fraud, and embezzlement, Mr. Caruso? Or is the law you refer to meant to protect your client(s) from "that good old time religion?"

"I'm worried about this. If you could close down an establishment like this, this would be a gross misuse of the law. It would hurt trade -- it would hurt everything that capitalism stands for." - Attorney Steve Caruso, KTNV TV News, 9/29/09

Like beating up customers if they refuse to sign inflated credit card tabs? That's not capitalism, Mr. Caruso.

But Caruso wasn't finished complaining.

"People need to be able to open up a business and make money." "The Crazy Horse Too is a landmark. It's a Las Vegas tradition. People come here and that's part of the Las Vegas -- um -- experience. " - Attorney Steve Caruso, KTNV TV News, 9/29/09

What "um -- experience?"

The experience of coming here to be robbed, or have their neck broken?

Wake up Mr. Caruso. What about Scott David Fau who was beaten to death in 1995 by Crazy Horse bouncers? And of course, the beating of Kirk Henry whose attorneys Don Campbell and Stan Hunterton made the following statement in court documents:

"For years, the management and 'security' staff of the Crazy Horse has been infested by a rogues' gallery of thugs, thieves, drug pushers, and corrupt ex-cops." "Most, if not all, have well documented ties to organized crime figures who frequent the premises. All of this has nurtured a culture of violence marked by robberies, beatings and even death."

(Both Campbell and Hunterton now hypocritically argue that the CH2 should reopen to make it saleable to other questionable interests so they can collect their legal fees for representing Henry. Neither attorney has mentioned going after Rizzolo's personal assets.)

"People want to come here and they want to sit and they want to have a drink in the Crazy Horse." - Attorney Steve Caruso, KTNV TV News, 9/29/09

Yeah, Mr. Caruso, but while they sit to have a drink, they certainly don't want some steroid-pumped bouncer threatening their life if they let the bartender swipe their credit card -- load it to its' max -- then protest the bogus charges!

That's exactly what 16 Crazy Horse Too employees pleaded guilty to doing. They pleaded guilty to beating up 35 to 40 customers in a five year period -- and that's only the tip of the iceberg. How many others were too embarrassed to file police reports after being robbed or beaten? Many married men go to such places, and don't want their wives to know. Maybe that's why the CH2 used the d.b.a. "The Power Company" on its' credit card receipts?

And your client wants to re-open this public nuisance?

Yes, it was recently referred to as a "public nuisance" by the City Attorney, and "threat to the community" by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Anyway, the joint is padlocked, the violence ended, and nobody around here expects the City Council on Wednesday Oct. 4 to grant Mr. Caruso's client(s) a temporary liquor license to re-open the place.

In the meantime, Deacon Christoff and Reverend Ahern are preparing for their first Sunday services on Oct. 15, followed by Sunday School, and nightly Bible studies -- something the residents of Naked City have never had within walking distance.

I had the pleasure of telling the story of Peter Christoff in January 2005 here on It was one of courage and selflessness. Mr. Christoff, 72, at his own expense, has for over 18 years been providing the children and families of what is officially known as "Meadows Village," yearly Thanksgiving dinners, and making sure that every child in the village has toys under their Christmas tree.

I first met Christoff in the late 80's when he demanded that school buses safely transport Meadows Village children to an elementary school that was across Main Street and the Strip. He was terrified that children could get killed crossing the wide boulevards twice a day, or be molested walking the dangerous streets in the neighborhood where he owned a small apartment house.

Even though the school was within the two mile radius that exempted school bus service, he would not take no for an answer. I joined his cause, and the Clark County School District made an exception and yellow school busses began chris crossing Meadows Village providing safe transport to the children Christoff loves.

He has no family of his own, and with only a sixth grade education, Christoff after two tours in the Marines made a fortune in the restaurant and real estate business. Though he speaks no Spanish, he's become a hero of sorts to his Meadows Village flock.

Now, one of his biggest dreams is about to become a reality. The Little Church of Las Vegas will open next week.

Mr. Caruso called the church a "sham" in Saturday's Review-Journal, but Christoff was unfazed. That same day, I found him shopping for chairs and tables for his church, and tearing up and replacing the old carpet. When I ask him about Caruso's remark, Christoff said he understands the lawyer is just doing his job.

In the meantime, two local Latino ministers were circulating Spanish language fliers telling of the new church, and letting parents know of their soon-to-be Sunday School and Bible classes.

Though the Little Church legally guarantees the end of the Crazy Horse Too blood bath, that was not Christoff's initial intention. Since its closure, he's never anticipated it could re-open!

I was with him on Sept. 6 when the City Council permanently revoked the CH2's liquor license, and celebrated with him and Buffalo Jim Barrier by having our photo taken giving high five's and victory signs in front of the closed down building.

After the last picture was taken and the reporters left, Mr. Christoff disappeared into Meadows Village to scout for a location for his church. At the time he had no idea that his dream would doom a quasi-legal attempt to resurrect the violence -- that three weeks later the suspicious application for a temporary liquor license would surface in the office of Business License Manager Jim DiFiori -- a Rizzolo crony at City Hall.

It's understandable why Mr. Caruso and his client(s) would be enraged. They didn't see Christoff and his ministers coming. Nor did Christoff expect to be the center of one of the biggest controversies of the year.

"I just want to be left alone so I can work with the families and kids who, up until now, have had no church to call their own. " "Now they can safely walk to the church without fear of being run over by a drunk or drugged Crazy Horse patron, or having to walk by passed out people."

         Photos taken by Buffalo Jim Barrier on Crazy Horse Too property, 2000 - 2004

One of the reasons Christoff waited so long to establish a church was his fear that a child walking to class or services would be run over by a drunken or drugged Crazy Horse patron.

He once sued the City for allowing the bar to expand without building permits or additional parking causing bar customers to park in the nearby high density neighborhood.

His suit was dismissed on a technicality when his lawyer mysteriously failed to show up in court.

Sources say calls to 911 reporting drunk drivers were ignored -- seemingly to protect the Crazy Horse during the Federal investigation.

On several documented occasions, the 911 dispatcher told the caller that he or she should call Crazy Horse "security" and ask them to call for police service. In the meantime, the drunk drivers reportedly sped away through Meadows Village.
This happened after dozens of requests were made to Mayor Oscar Goodman to enforce the TIPS or TAM laws at the Crazy Horse, but he did nothing. TIPS stands for Training for Intervention Procedures by Servers, a course required by law to be taken by all cocktail servers and bartenders. The TAM law also requires that a course be taken by all liquor selling employees. Both are dedicated to reducing alcohol related driving accidents as required by state law -- but that law evidently did not  apply to the once-politically-influential Crazy Horse Too.

This week we may have found out why Goodman has been so recalcitrant. A document just surfaced showing that Goodman was once the Resident Agent for The Power Company, in addition to having been Rick Rizzolo's criminal defense attorney when he pleaded guilty to beating a man almost to death with a baseball bat.

But this theory flies in the face of the Mayor's recent testimony in District Court when Crazy Horse attorney Tony Sgro, a Goodman protégé, called his mentor to the witness stand to verify that the City and State had plans to take part of the Crazy Horse property through eminent domain for a road widening.

Sgro's intention was to convince Judge Mark Denton that the City was conspiring to devalue the property by revoking its' liquor license so it could take the land at a lesser price.

(Sgro must have neglected to tell Michael Signorelli that a slice of the land would someday be taken, based on Signorelli's outrageous $45 million purchase offer.)

When asked to verify Sgro's strained theory, Goodman surprised onlookers by testifying he knew nothing of such a road widening plan, thereby crippling the attorney's argument. The judge soon dismissed Sgro's motion for a temporary injunction against the City.

That afternoon, I issued an E-Brief congratulating the Mayor for doing the right thing, and he quickly responded saying, "Thanks for the email. I'll continue to do 'the right thing.'"

And he has!

He's abstained on all items regarding the closure of the Crazy Horse Too, and will conveniently be out of the country on Wednesday when Mr. Caruso comes before the Council begging for a temporary liquor license so his client  -- and whoever else he's representing -- can, most likely, resume the robberies, beatings, and killings -- the only way the Crazy Horse has known to make money since it opened in 1984.

Christoff says that it was a case of Divine Intervention that ended the violence. I'm not sure, but whether coincidence or not, Meadows Village is a much safer place since the Crazy Horse went dark, and Christoff's humble Little Church took the spotlight.


* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas' scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs

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