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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:

Rats Deserting a Sinking Ship?
In a town like Vegas, there might be
a smidgen of justice remaining

I am a shareholder of RicRiz, LLC. I do not own a majority of the shares. -- Rick Rizzolo, 10/01/04

Mr. Rizzolo's only involvement is as a shareholder of RicRiz, LLC. He is not a proper Defendant in this case. -- Attorney Dean Patti, 10/06/04

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
November 15, 2004

"This Structure Is Unsafe" sign posted on Rizzolo's office, 11/3/04
                              (Photo by Buffalo Jim Barrier)

LAS VEGAS - When the Fire Department condemns part of your building, politicians refuse your campaign contributions, there's a "Do Not Enter" seal on your office door, and you deny being the boss of your own company, something's seriously wrong.

At first glance you'd think a person suffering such humiliation is some kind of schlemiel, but think again! The recipient is none other than Rick Rizzolo, the soon-to-be indicted, recently disavowed owner of the blood-soaked Crazy Horse Too topless bar.

(L to R) Ralph Rizzolo and attorney Jon Norheim listen
as Rick Rizzolo points to his neighbor's business
                        (Photo by Buffalo Jim Barrier)

For over a decade Rizzolo was known as the most generous political campaign contributor this side of the Strip. He was called a "Pillar of the community." He allegedly could pull strings like having City Hall and the Fire Department do his bidding, especially when it came to helping him try to get rid of his bothersome next door neighbor so he can expand the Crazy Horse. His political clout seemed limitless, that's until February 20, 2003 when Rizzolo met his most formidable foe.

In February 2003, the FBI and IRS raided his business. Since then, Rick Rizzolo's name or those of his corporations no longer appear on the campaign contribution reports of any local or state politician. Prior to 2003, his name regularly appeared on the contribution lists of judges, mayors, DAs, Sheriffs, councilmembers, commissioners, and even the governor. But no longer. A careful search of the Nevada Secretary of State, Clark County Election Department, and City Clerk's web sites over the past three elections revealed no political contributions from Rick Rizzolo, et al. -- at least none that were on the record.

In the meantime, Rizzolo's next door neighbor, garage owner Buffalo Jim Barrier, is becoming an increasing thorn in his side. A colorful former pro wrestler, Barrier has occupied the same space since 1976, and says he has no intention of moving until his lease expires in 2009. Because of his highly publicized legal battles with Rizzolo, his neighbor since 1987, Barrier's become a local folk hero of sorts, and his long-successful garage is a gathering place for famous pro wrestlers when they're in town. Consequently, he's become Rizzolo's second most formidable foe, and seems to be winning every round.

    Psycho Sid, Goldberg, Barrier, Rick Steiner   
                       (Photo by Mike Christ)

Its a far different story for Rick Rizzolo. After five humiliating court defeats and a multi-agency federal investigation of his business practices and associations, Rizzolo is singing a new tune.

I am a shareholder of RicRiz, LLC. I do not own a majority of the shares. RicRiz, LLC owns the shopping center where both James Barrier and The Power Company, Inc. dba Crazy Horse Too are tenants. I am both competent and willing to testify. I did not notice or tow Mr. Barrier's vehicles referred to in his Complaint, nor have I noticed or towed his vehicles in the past. RicRiz, LLC has a property manager, Ralph Rizzolo. The shopping center employs an independent security company, Green Valley Security. Either they or Ralph Rizzolo would have ordered cars noticed if they were on shopping center property. -- AFFIDAVIT OF RICK RIZZOLO, 10/01/04

On October 7, Dean Patti of the prestigious law firm Patti and Sgro, told the court: "Mr. Rizzolo's only involvement is as a shareholder of RicRiz, LLC. He is not a proper Defendant in this case," backing up Rizzolo's contention that he's no longer the boss.

Does this now mean that Rick Rizzolo is also not a "proper defendant" in the case of Kirk Henry? Or in the upcoming Federal racketeering and political corruption case? Ask the family of Henry who is now a quadriplegic, or ask the widow and daughters of the late Scott Fau? They'll say you can't shirk such grievous responsibility by merely saying, "I do not own a majority of the shares," or "He is not a proper Defendant in this case."

The two family's suffering gives an ironic new meaning to that orange sign on Rizzolo's office window that states, "This Structure is Unsafe!"

In 1997, Bart Rizzolo, Rick and Ralph's dad boasted, "There has never been a suit filed that we haven't beaten and I'm hoping our record will stay that way."  That was then, this is now.

Bart, Ralph, and Annette Rizzolo during FBI raid
            ( photo by Mike Christ)

On October 15, Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ruled on RICRIZ'S MTN FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF. Attorney Jon Norheim, also of Patti and Sgro, pleaded that Barrier's rent should be increased by one third. He argued that since Rick Rizzolo purchased the center in 2002, Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases were inadvertently overlooked and three years worth should now be cumulatively added to Barrier's rent.

Barrier's attorney Gus Flangas cried foul. He argued that CPI increases cannot be added cumulatively, and only the most recent year's increase is warranted. The court agreed, and Norheim's motion was denied.

In another recent case, Judge Gonzalez ruled that Rick Rizzolo must stop towing Barrier's customer's cars from a makeshift "Fire Lane" he had posted next to Allstate Auto Repair, Barrier's business. Up until the ruling, many of Barrier's customer's cars were towed within minutes of their arrival for service at his garage. The illegal towing stopped after the ruling, but then something else began happening. Raw garbage started being dumped every night outside Barrier's garage door.

           Nightly deposit of wet garbage

Its now become the norm for Barrier to have to clean up a pile of wet trash purposely left outside his roll up doors each morning though a dumpster sits nearby. It seems that someone (not at Rick Rizzolo's behest of course) is deliberately dumping the trash there to irritate Barrier into moving, or to get even for his photographic exploits. It is Barrier who has for years photographed dozens of victims of beatings, or possible druggings at the Crazy Horse.

"I've been scooping up his drunks and stepping over dead bodies for years. A little garbage doesn't faze me," said Barrier.

One morning in early November, while Barrier was cleaning the garbage piled on his driveway, the Las Vegas Fire Department arrived on the scene. Barrier thought they were there to perform one of their all-too-frequent surprise inspections of his garage, but that was not the case. The Fire Inspectors were surprisingly there to officially remove the "No Parking, Fire Lane" signs that were dutifully posted on the wall of Barrier's garage one week following Rick Rizzolo's purchase of the center in 2002, a time when he still had amazing clout at City Hall. That changed in 2003 with the defeat of two-term Councilman Michael McDonald, a Rizzolo sycophant.

INSIDE VEGAS has often reported that the signs were improperly posted next to five bright yellow concrete reinforced poles that protect two electrical transformers that sit directly in the middle of the now-defunct "Fire Lane." The signs were finally removed after articles were hand delivered to Las Vegas Fire Chief David Washington and City Parking Enforcement Lieutenant Karen Coyne.

Obstructions blocking phony "Fire Lane"

But that's not all the Fire Inspectors accomplished that eventful morning. They posted "Do Not Occupy, This Structure is Unsafe" signs on the front of Rick's back office along with orange "Do Not Enter" seals on the doors that he (or Ralph, or the security guards) promptly tried to remove.

Ripped "Do Not Enter" stickers on Rizzolo's door
                    (Photo by Buffalo Jim Barrier)

While awaiting Federal criminal indictments, along with Kirk Henry's attempted murder civil trial, several suspected hidden owners of the Crazy Horse have allegedly been busy liquidating or transferring their personal assets, probably to disassociate themselves from the business prior to possible forfeitures or judgments. Meanwhile, its obvious that no public official in the state currently feels comfortable doing the Crazy Horse favors -- with the exception of a few crooked local cops who are carefully being monitored, and the mayor who was formerly the criminal defense attorney for a number of Rizzolo's associates.

Maybe that's the reason for City Hall's sudden change of heart? Or maybe its a case of  "rats deserting a sinking ship;" possibly a sign that even in a town like Vegas there might be a smidgen of justice remaining.

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