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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:

Open Letter to Councilwoman Tarkanian

The latest Crazy Horse Too developments
"Please don't tell Steve Miller" - Vice President, CB Richard Ellis

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
November 12, 2007

LAS VEGAS - On Wednesday, the clock secretly stopped ticking that would have marked the final day the trouble plagued Crazy Horse Too strip club could maintain its adult use zoning.

Had December 31, 2007 arrived without the business open and pouring liquor, the Crazy Horse would have automatically lost its grandfathered zoning and never again would be able to reopen as a strip club according to a city law that was quietly amended last Wednesday by the most unlikely of public officials.

           Photo by Ethan Miller / LAS VEGAS SUN

Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian is the wife of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. The churchgoing grandmother does not fit the description of a mob moll, but her action at last Wednesday's Las Vegas City Council meeting made some observers think otherwise when she quietly sponsored a bill to extend the time from six months to one year that the Crazy Horse Too could remain closed and still retain its "Adult Use" zoning.

Had Tarkanian not acted swiftly, the public on December 31 would have permanently been spared a possible repeat of the violence, extortion, money laundering, prostitution, and drug sales that made Rick Rizzolo and his band of thieves filthy rich.

What is Tarkanian's obligation that made her risk her reputation the way she did? Rick Rizzolo is serving a sentence in Federal Prison for racketeering and deserves no favors, so why did she quietly help him?

I've learned that her sponsorship of the stealth bill designed to benefit only one person was never supposed to see media coverage, especially to be reported on

Its intended secrecy was made evident when Geoffrey West, the broker assigned to sell the Crazy Horse, told an INSIDE VEGAS source, "Please don't tell Steve Miller" about Tarkanian's action.

Well, someone did tell Steve Miller, however
I don't blame Mr. West because he stands to make a 5% commission off the saloon's sale, and its worth a lot more open for business than as a dumpy warehouse!

It's now more obvious than ever that Rizzolo and his cronies have at least two, possibly three, lackeys on the City Council ready to grant anyone -- no matter their criminal background -- a new liquor license to reopen the mobbed-up strip club. And this worries me a lot.

Why is a shut down topless bar causing such trepidation at city hall? You would think by all the hullabaloo it was a matter of national security to get it back open!

It's because the Mob doesn't take No for an answer, they want their gold mine back, and they're willing to pay for the privilege.

Abstaining on Wednesday's vote to approve Tarkanian's ordinance was Rizzolo's loyal friend; former defense attorney; and former corporate resident agent Mayor Oscar Goodman. The rest of the council, including Councilman Steve Wolfson, lined up like sheep to help Rizzolo sell his club for top dollar.

Wolfson's wife, District Court Judge Jackie Glass, recently denied attorneys for beating victim Kirk Henry the ability to examine Rick Rizzolo's personal assets. The judge's husband the councilman soon thereafter voted to grant a liquor license to a straw man who was not qualified to operate the Crazy Horse too in Rizzolo's absence.

The Rizzolo juice machine obviously runs all the way from the Clark County Regional Justice Center to Las Vegas City Hall!

Had Tarkanian's ordinance failed, and if a bidder was not found who bids enough to to pay off all Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's debts amounting to around $25 million dollars by the former deadline of December 31, the shuttered topless bar and its land would have reverted to warehouse use only, and its price would have tumbled to about $5.4 million -- its recently appraised value. But Councilwoman Tarkanian would have none of that!

It seems that keeping Lisa Rizzolo out of prison for "Conspiracy to defraud the United States" is more important to Tarkanian than looking out for the public's safety. According to information in an FBI Declaration, Mrs. Rizzolo with the help of a prominent local attorney hid her assets from seizure to pay court ordered debts.

Without Councilwoman Tarkanian's and Judge Glass' official actions, Mrs. Rizzolo could get indicted if she refused to reveal where her assets are hidden in the event the government could not collect enough money through the sale of the Crazy Horse to pay off her debts. It's obvious no one in the imaginary Sin City Social Register wants that to happen to the ex-wife of a man who, when he's not in the slammer, regularly rubs elbows with all of Nevada's movers and shakers at Freddy Glusman's Las Vegas and Newport Beach mob hang outs. So it appears to many INSIDE VEGAS readers that at least two local elected officials have used their public positions to increase the value of a topless bar in order to protect the ill begotten fortune of a Vegas political maven.

The former city ordinance -- if not tampered with -- would have made it easy for U.S. Federal Court Judge Philip Pro to shut the place down permanently. All he had to do was delay approving a buyer until after the first of the year. Now, because of Tarkanian's action, Judge Pro no longer has that option, at least not for the next 12 months.

In the meantime, and with Tarkanian's future help, the bar can be reopened with a court, and Rizzolo, approved operator, and then sold with a liquor license and grand fathered adult use zoning for many times its value as a warehouse. This also worries me a lot because only the Mob would pay that much for a broken down warehouse in a seedy part of town.

The bar's original owners want it back, and will pay any amount to save face and resume the carnage that made them a reported $45 million per year profit. In the past, names including Lombardo, Faraci, Doumani, and Cusumano pop up each time the Crazy Horse name was mentioned. Former Crazy Horse manager Rocco Lombardo is the brother of Chicago Crime Boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, and former Crazy Horse manager Vinny Faraci (presently in federal prison) is the son of a
feared Bonanno crime family loan shark. Joey Cusumano was Tony "The Ant" Spilotro's right hand man and is currently a close friend and party guest of LV Mayor Oscar Goodman. For some reason, Councilwoman Tarkanian just helped them out even though she and I discussed in depth the mob associates involved in the former Crazy Horse Too operation.

She was also a regular reader of this column and my E-Briefs on this subject, so she knows the consequence of what she just did unless she's been in hibernation since our meetings.

If the zoning was allowed to expire and the place returned to warehouse use only, the difference between the selling price and Rizzolo's personal obligations would have had to be taken from the Lisa M. Rizzolo Separate Property Trust and several mysterious LLC's that were formed a week before Rick Rizzolo was indicted. In all, the Rizzolos transferred and hid a fortune amounting to at least $25 million dollars - more than enough to cover their debts to the Henry's, IRS, Security Pacific Bank, City of Las Vegas, State of Nevada, and next door neighbor Buffalo Jim Barrier who holds a $1 million dollar lien on the bar and property.

When assets are transferred during a divorce that occurs weeks in advance of an indictment, the court can easily reverse the transfer and seize the assets to pay debts accrued during the time of the marriage.

So Tarkanian's excuse that she was just trying to help beating victim Kirk Henry's pay his medical bills is false. The money is readily available if the court wants to go after the Rizzolo's personal assets. But most troubling is that Tarkanian's careless action may expose future Kirk Henry's to grave harm.
After the bill was announced at the council meeting, Councilwoman Tarkanian made the motion to pass her ordinance within 42 seconds. It passed by unanimous vote with Mayor Goodman abstaining. (He probably knew in advance of the item and would not vote based on an ethics complaint I filed in 2006). There was no discussion, not even by Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese who represents Ward 3, the ward in which the Crazy Horse is located. (I don't think Councilman Reese was aware of the serious ramifications of the ordinance before voting, therefore he can bring the item back for reconsideration if he is so inclined.) 

Now, it's anticipated the councilwoman is primed to again use her position to help Rizzolo by appointing an interim operator of his choosing to run his club. Selected by Rizzolo from his prison cell, this operator may reopen the bar and help it regain its previous value to the mob -- a possibility that also deeply troubles me at a time when the Las Vegas community is trying to rid itself of its Mob heritage and image.

The only way this will not happen soon, is if United States Federal Court Judge Philip Pro sees through the scam, does not approve a questionable buyer, and orders the Crazy Horse liquidated immediately. If not, I'm afraid it will reopen under Rizzolo's charge, and later be sold to one of his associates to resume the criminal acts that made it the most profitable topless bar in history.

   SOME OF RIZZOLO'S VICTIMS (Photos courtesy of Buffalo Jim Barrier and KVBC TV News)

Scott Fau - 8/4/95     Paul Russo - 12/12/97       Unidentified patron - 10/2/01             Jermaine Simieou - 4/30/02

                     11/7/03                                           9/15/03                                11/30/02                        8/14/03

Kirk Henry - 9/20/01                                            Eben Kostbar - 7/3/01  

Councilwoman Tarkaniian and I discussed the violence depicted in the above photos when she visited my home last spring. Evidently she wasn't impressed because she soon voted to grant Rizzolo's straw man a temporary liquor license to run the bar until it could be sold.

Any self respecting public servant would have made efforts to shut it down.

She did this after her husband Jerry had attended a party at Freddy Glusman's Ritz Restaurant in Newport Beach to honor Rizzolo several days before he reported to prison. Jerry's presence at the mob Going Away Party peaked my interest especially after Lois reportedly said, "Jerry told me Rick is a great guy!"

Freddy Glusman is one of Rick Rizzolo's best friends and supporters, so I did a little research on him and found two interesting documents that shed some light on what may have motivated Lois.

The Tarkanians are involved in a trust deed with Rizzolo's best friend Freddy Glusman. It goes all the way back to 1993.

I can't say for sure, but this relationship may have had something to do with her sponsorship of the ordinance.

Last Friday, after being confronted by an INSIDE VEGAS reader who learned of the councilwoman's sponsorship in my daily Insider E-Brief, the councilwoman allegedly told him she was not behind the ordinance. Then she reportedly said the ordinance was conceived by one of her business associates, a man who lives in Newport Beach, even though her name was listed as the "Sponsor," and she made the motion to approve!

If this is truly the case, and she has second thoughts, she can bring the item back for reconsideration.

But I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Prior to Councilwoman Tarkanian being elected, Rizzolo's stooge on the city council was Michael McDonald who is presently the subject of a Federal probe involving Rizzolo.
The city council just gave up one of its most effective legal tools to shut down this corrupt enterprise for once and for all -- the ability to stop a nonconforming use after 180 days of inactivity. Based on the stealthiness of this action, I'm very concerned that the Mafia is about to make an end run to regain their power in Sin City.

The ball is now in the court of Federal Judge Philip Pro.

Steve Miller is currently writing a true crime book on the mob's battle to keep the Crazy Horse Too open
* * *

Dear Councilwoman Tarkanian:
I want to give you the benefit of the doubt.
I was recently informed that you are telling people you were not aware of the adverse effect your recent sponsorship of an ordinance to extend the time a business can remain inactive and still maintain its non-conforming zoning could have on the safety and welfare of our community and tourism.
If it's true as you say that you didn't realize the shuttered Crazy Horse Too topless bar would be the first and primary beneficiary of your suspiciously-timed ordinance, as a council member you can now bring the ordinance back for reconsideration within five business days of its passage, postpone its ratification until January 2008, and help end the violence at this criminal enterprise once and for all.
Had you waited until after the first of the year to sponsor your bill, the grandfathered adult use zoning of the bar would have expired on December 30, 2007, 180 days after it was closed by the City of Las Vegas, and the threat to the safety and welfare of its patrons would have finally ended.
Instead, I believe someone with loyalties to persons other than your constituents requested you sponsor an ordinance designed to help the Crazy Horse maintain its zoning for another year to enhance its property's value and provide a handsome commission to a national real estate broker who can sell it at a higher price with its zoning in tact.
Your quiet action extended the time the Crazy Horse could be sold and consequently helped prevent the imminent forfeiture of Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's personal assets to cover their court ordered debts in the event the bar did not sell by the former December 30 deadline.
Your action also inspired the bar's reopening and possible resumption of the violent business practices that caused its closure.
Based on the above, I hope you understand my serious concerns over the past 9 years which you recently demeaned through your reference: "Steve Miller is obsessed with this issue."
Yes, it is an obsession. An obsession with ending the carnage that resulted in the convictions of 16 men including your husband's good friend Rick Rizzolo. Men who made their fortunes through extortion and the use of violence against patrons who refused their demands. Men who should be banned from the adult entertainment industry for the rest of their lives but are being represented by attorneys in your mayor's law firm and, with his law partner's help, may be permitted back into the business.
You should also be obsessed with keeping the place closed and preserving the safety and welfare of your constituents!
If you truly were unaware of the consequences of your action -- possibly duped into bringing the ordinance before the council at this highly suspicious time -- I offer the following legal remedy to reverse the harm you've done.
According to city law, you have until 5 PM Thursday November 15 to bring your ill-timed ordinance back for reconsideration.
If you do, you can postpone the law's ratification until after the first of the year thereby letting the Crazy Horse zoning expire as it would have on December 31 following 180 days of inactivity per the zoning law before you altered it.
You told one of my associates that you sponsored the ordinance at the behest of a local developer who has a home in Newport Beach. If you're now concerned you were tricked into sponsoring the ordinance to help this man gain favor with Rizzolo and his friends at the beach, you should be concerned enough to bring your item back for reconsideration, then recommend its passage occur after January 1.
If you don't bring your ill-timed ordinance back for reconsideration by Thursday November 15, then my worst suspicions will be confirmed -- you were acting willfully at the behest of mob associate friends of your husband Jerry Tarkanian -- men who want to reopen the Crazy Horse Too and resume the carnage.
Councilwoman, your loyalties should be to your Las Vegas constituents, not to mobsters who joined with Jerry on April 29 to honor Rizzolo at his "Farewell Party" held at the Ritz eleven days after you voted to re-open his Crazy Horse Too despite recommendations from the city attorney and Las Vegas police to deny the application.
Your immediate action will speak much louder than your hollow words.
Former Las Vegas Councilman Steve Miller

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