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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. Steve currently writes a weekly column in the Las Vegas Tribune about organized crime and political corruption. Visit his website at:

Rizzolo’s Trials Loom
- DA Averts Prosecution

COMMENTARY: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
October 2, 2002

At sunrise on Thursday, September 20, 2001, two bouncers reportedly threw a young tourist out of the Crazy Horse Too topless bar at 2476 Industrial Road. The bouncers allegedly beat the man in front of the bar, robbed him of $88 dollars and left one dollar in his wallet. Then the unspeakable happened. One of the bouncers allegedly grabbed the man and snapped his neck severing his spinal cord. Today, Kansas resident Kirk Henry is a quadriplegic.

Police submitted the case to prosecutors in the DA's office. No action was taken. The Henry family hired noted local attorney Donald Campbell who sued the nightclub and its' owner personally. The case was randomly assigned to the court of Judge Jeffrey Sobel and the date of trial has not yet been scheduled.

This was not the first reported case of brutality at the topless bar, and also not the first such case averted by the Clark County District Attorney.

Kenneth Kirkpatrick told police he and several friends went to the Crazy Horse on May 24, 2001, for a bachelor party. Kirkpatrick and his friends had a disagreement regarding the amount of the bill and asked for the manager. According to a police report, Kirkpatrick said bar bouncers threatened him and he was forced to sign a charge on his Visa card for $220 and that "the bouncers were shoving (him) around." The report then states that bar employees knocked him to the ground and punched and kicked him in the face and back of the head. Police submitted the case to prosecutors in the DA's office. No action was taken.

What makes these stories intriguing is that the owner of the topless club, Rick Rizzolo, enjoys a close a relationship with many local judges and public officials who are often seen attending parties at his Canyon Gate home. He is the same person who, until recently, had raised in excess of $50,000 for District Attorney candidate David Roger - someone who if elected will be asked to prosecute at least two brutality cases pending against Rizzolo's business.

Following the Las Vegas Tribune's disclosure of the donations, Deputy DA Roger claimed to return the money, but did not give a satisfactory reason for purportedly doing so.

Rick Rizzolo is highly regarded in local political circles. In fact, on August 16, 2000, Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald described him as a "Pillar of the community." Coincidentally, up until late 1999, McDonald lived rent-free in a half million dollar Canyon Gate villa owned by the family of one of Rizzolo's associates, Joey Cusumano. McDonald vacated the villa following a front-page Tribune story about his lush lifestyle on a councilman's salary.

It also bears mentioning that Mayor Oscar Goodman was once the defense attorney for Cusumano. Goodman recently sponsored an ordinance custom designed to allow the Crazy Horse to expand; though he denies doing it as a favor for his former client.

Prior to the Kirk Henry and Kenneth Kirkpatrick cases was the Wrongful Death suit brought by the family of Scott David Fau. Its' trial has been scheduled for January 6 in the court of Judge Nancy M. Saitta.

The lawsuit was brought after Fau was found beaten to death next to railroad tracks behind the Crazy Horse on August 4, 1995. Witnesses reported seeing Fau being severely beaten by Crazy Horse employees in the parking lot after he was ejected from the club.

On July 6, 2001, almost six years following Fau's death, Judge Saitta dismissed the case two weeks before it was scheduled to go to trial. Fau's attorney immediately appealed her untimely decision to the Nevada Supreme Court. Five weeks later on August 14, Judge Saitta reversed her ruling and set a new trial date for March 18, 2002. Then on March 12, again, less than a week before trial, Judge Saitta suddenly took it off her calendar. The latest trial is set for January 6.

Coincidentally, Rick Rizzolo was one of the four biggest contributors to Judge Saitta's last political campaign.

What makes the Fau case (and others involving the Crazy Horse) even more unusual is the lackadaisical attitude taken by the District Attorney's office following requests for prosecution by Metro Police.

DA Stewart Bell admitted on the September 19 "Face the Tribune" TV program, that there is "probable cause" to proceed with prosecution on at least two of the cases. However, it's apparent he wants his successor in the upcoming election to wait until after the civil trials end to start the prosecution actions. Bell is busy running for District Court Judge.

When Scott Fau's lifeless body was found, Rizzolo claimed his death was caused by a fall from a moving train.

The medical examiner strongly disagreed since there were no abrasions on his body. He said that there was clear evidence of blunt force trauma to Fau's head and lower body - but there were no indications that he had scraped across the ground after falling from a moving object. Furthermore, there were eyewitnesses to Fau being beaten by club employees. Nonetheless, the District Attorney's office took no action.

One of the eyewitnesses has since recanted his taped testimony. Judge Saitta removed him from the witness list though he could not be located to tell why he reversed his testimony.

In Kirk Henry's case, Rizzolo claimed the bouncers were not on duty at the time of the incident and acted on their own accord.

Upon David Roger announcing his candidacy for DA, political friends of Rizzolo mobilized. Councilman Michael McDonald hosted Roger at an event for seniors, then Rizzolo held two fundraisers for Roger; one at Piero's restaurant, the other at his Canyon Gate estate. Its not surprising that in the face of two lawsuits and several requests for prosecution by Metro, Rizzolo might want his own man as our next District Attorney.

If either or both of the upcoming jury trials go against Rizzolo, then the new DA should have no choice other than to begin prosecution against the Crazy Horse and its' owner on robbery, battery and conspiracy to commit robbery and coercion charges.

It will be interesting to see how David Roger responds to these challenges if he is elected our next DA.

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