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: http://www.SteveMiller4LasVegas.com
Rizzolo could be in
New RICO lawsuit claims Rick Rizzolo still runs the Crazy Horse.
A Federal Court Judge may throw the book at him and put the
building and land on the auction block after three buyouts
were squelched in favor of a straw man with no money.
VEGAS by Steve Miller
December 26, 2006
LAS VEGAS - It always amazes me when a big story
hits just days before Christmas. I've come to the conclusion
that scammers use this time to try to pull fast ones because
reporters and honest public servants are usually on
vacation and don't want to pay much attention to negative stuff this
time of year.
untimely story asks the question -- What's the value of a mob run
topless bar in the
seediest part of Las Vegas? Is it worth an amazing $40 to $48
million after its owner and
sixteen employees were convicted of racketeering, and beating up
customers who refused to pay inflated credit card tabs? A brand new
Federal RICO law suit really opened a can of worms the week before
The law suit begs the question -- Are the same La Cosa Nostra folks who
Rizzolo fronts for the ones now backing one or more investors who
want to buy his broken down topless bar? And do the men who represent
the investors know who their investors really are?
Former Crazy Horse boss Vinney
Faraci is the son of "Johnny Green" Faraci, a notorious Bonanno
family capo. New York organized crime experts have said Vinny is a made
And then there's former Crazy Horse boss Rocco
Lombardo, the brother of Chicago outfit boss Joey
"The Clown" Lombardo.
It's no mere coincidence that upstanding citizens like this want to
continue running the Crazy Horse Too. Therefore, any buyer who comes
forward should receive a complete background check to see if he is
being used as a "Mr. Clean Face" for such interests with or without his
The method they use is called a "Daisy Train." It means that the same
guys that now own the Crazy Horse pretend to be investors in a new
group and get an unsuspecting, or complicit general partner to make the
offer on their behalf without having to disclose their involvement. In
Nevada, this can be done through a Limited Liability Corporation that
does not have to reveal names of investors.
Rick Rizzolo and Rocco Lombardo
Rizzolo keeps bragging he's not going to prison in January, and
to prove his point, he's repeatedly seen partying and gambling on the
Strip while he awaits his protracted sentencing hearing.
Rizzolo may be right because he's a "whale," a term that means million
dollar player. Whales are a protected species in Vegas, and Rizzolo has
connections all the way to Washington D.C. that may be running legal
and political interference for him. If he goes to prison, the goose
stops laying golden eggs, and that doesn't go over well with casino
operators, especially those with deep pockets regularly tapped for
campaign contributions during national elections.
To give you an idea of how
ridiculous the Crazy Horse purchase offers have become, when New York
based Scores bought the brand new 25,000 square foot
Jaguars Gentleman's Club in February 2006 for $25 million, no one
questioned the price tag.
The building was less than two years old and located near a major
intersection on Desert Inn Road in a better part of town. The only
difference was that the seller, Jack Galardi, did not have hidden
partners or a reputation for crippling or killing
Now there's an inexplicable
feeding frenzy over the least
attractive topless bar in Sin City -- the blood soaked Crazy Horse Too.
Why, when the latest $45 to $48 million supposedly being bid could buy
just about any other club in town -- one with a permanent liquor
license, better location, and a clean reputation?
I smell a fish, or could it be a daisy?
Is there a ruse underway to artificially inflate the Crazy Horse's
value to discourage the Federal Court from putting it into
receivership? Or is the exaggerated value being used to convince the
City Council and Federal Court that it's too valuable to shut down, and
to let it stay open to continue its M.O. of drug sales, prostitution,
Either way, the huge amount of money now being offered for the Crazy
Horse may involve a daisy chain of present owners who -- on paper --
can offer and pay any amount to stay active in their criminal
enterprise because the price doesn't matter when cash is not intended
to change hands. The only thing that would change is the name of the
front man, and he probably doesn't even know who his investors really
In the real world, the Crazy Horse building and real estate is worth
more in the neighborhood of $10 million, and that's a very generous
estimate. Unfortunately, if the place sold for market value it could not cover
all the debts Rick Rizzolo has incurred including legal fees owed to
two of our town's most prominent attorneys who represented beating
This might be the real reason public officials are allowing one of the
biggest scams in Vegas history to go on and on and on. Attorneys Donald
Campbell and Stan Hunterton want to get paid for the great job they did
for Henry who's family has devastating medical bills, and it would take
too long to seize and liquidate Rizzolo's personal assets to pay their
fee, the Henrys, and the IRS - total $17 million. Therefore the
sale of the club got the nod in Federal Court to facilitate the
quickest relief of debt.
Knowing this, Rizzolo conveniently divorced his wife and transferred
all his assets to her during the Federal investigation. However the
court can reverse this transparent legal ploy in the event the club
does not bring enough money through a sale. Lisa
Rizzolo, Rick's ex, is suspected of harboring much more money than
needed to settle her former husband's obligations. But this could
involve lengthy litigation, so the quick fix was chosen: sell the Crazy
Horse ASAP, but don't look too closely at the buyer.
How can this happen? Remember, this is the town that repeatedly elects
a former (?) mob lawyer as its' mayor, and Mayor Oscar Goodman has close
ties to Rizzolo and several of his associates.
Everyone in town wants Kirk Henry to get the ten million Rizzolo
promised him (and his lawyers), but no public official has the guts to
require casinos to open the safe deposit boxes Rizzolo keeps in
cashier's cages up and down the Strip. Whales are known for keeping
their cash in these boxes feeling it's safer than a bank, and away from
the IRS and FBI's prying eyes.
It's obvious Rizzolo, 47, has no intention of paying his monetary
debts, or his debt to society for that matter. His attorneys also plead
that his current health won't allow him to
serve prison time -- that's if he's really
sick? But he continues burning
the candle at both ends. More on that later.
A reliable source told me that Rizzolo has struck a deal with his
buddies at City Hall to give him an extraordinary $7 million for a 23
foot deep slice expected to be taken by eminent domain from the front
of his property for a road widening. That's an outrageous price for a
sliver of Industrial Road frontage. The ridiculously high purchase
offers by supposed buyers may have inspired such an over evaluation by
the City Public Works Department, or it might just have been a nod from
the Mayor that inspired the $7 mil. Nonetheless, the taxpayers could
take it in the shorts if nobody pays attention.
The 26,000 square foot Crazy Horse is located amid a tangle of power
telephone lines on 2.65 acres next to a noisy overpass and the Union
Pacific main line. Recent
soils tests indicate that vibration from passing trains would limit the
height of any new structure to a few stories, and then there's the
eminent domain threat that could reduce the acreage. Under these
circumstances, how can anyone reasonably offer $45 - 48 million?
To his dismay, Rizzolo also
has three years remaining on a 43 cent per square foot
lease to a funky auto garage located right next to his club's main
entrance. The garage is owned by stubborn ex-pro wrestler Buffalo
Jim Barrier who
has become a local folk
hero for refusing to move in the midst of
threats and harassment from his landlord Rizzolo who wants to expand
into his space.
Barrier is so popular that the Las
Vegas Review Journal just hired him as a columnist.
Whoever buys the Crazy Horse automatically inherits the garage and its
burly owner until his lease expires in 2009 whether they like it or not.
And to add insult to
injury, the Crazy Horse has a billboard overhead advertising a
competitive nearby gentleman's club!
It just seems Rick Rizzolo can't get no respect.
So why would anyone want to buy such a place for so much, especially
operating under a temporary liquor license?
Last June, U.S. Federal Court Chief Judge Philip Pro ordered the Crazy
Horse be sold by June 2007, or a receiver would be placed to liquidate
the building and property.
Meanwhile, without requiring a financial statement, last October the Las Vegas City
Council granted a six month temporary liquor license to a man who has
gone bankrupt twice in fifteen years and was found financially
purchase the Riviera Hotel.
With this background, Mike Signorelli was described to the City Council
as a successful gaming entrepreneur who
was about to purchase a Strip hotel after successfully building and
operating a casino resort in Mesquite. The Council asked no questions,
and nothing was volunteered regarding the Mesquite casino's
bankruptcy and subsequent class action law suit claiming Signorelli
insurance premiums from his employees. Also, no information was
presented about the Riviera discarding Signorelli's unsubstantiated
Signorelli's only qualification was that he owns a steak house where he
and Rizzolo have been seen drinking together for many years. But his
attorney told the Council that the two men had only known each other
for two weeks.
The Council members just sat there looking dumb while being lied to.
Then, as if guided by an invisible hand, the Council seemed to
dutifully vote to grant the
license with a stipulation no member of the Rizzolo family step
foot on the property. No one asked Signorelli to prove the origin of
the $400,000 a month rent he purportedly agreed to pay, or the $45
million he said he offered for the club. The Council became a laughing
stock over their acceptance of Signorelli's less than provable worth
and refusal to identify backers.
The Council would probably have reacted the same to any other applicant
who stepped up to the podium with the City's Director of Business
Activity by his side. Ask no questions about partners or financial
backers -- require no financial statement -- just take the word of
Business License Director Jim
DiFiore that the applicant standing next to him is qualified.
Signorelli and Jim DiFiore
(AmericanMafia.com photo by Mike Christ)
Soon after he re-opened the shuttered bar, Signorelli
was brought back before the Council to prove the accuracy of suspicions
he was a straw man.
Buffalo Jim Barrier informed
the Council there were three members of Rizzolo's immediate
family working in the bar as key employees in violation of City Council
and court orders. When asked
at a special
Council hearing to explain why they were still employed, Signorelli
nervously claimed he did not know that his
general manager, assistant manager, and bookkeeper's last names were
Rizzolo -- and the
Council bought his story!
However, they did timidly ask him to remove all remaining Rizzolos from
his payroll and keep them off the property. He agreed, but that
didn't stop Annette Rizzolo from immediately violating the Council's
order by sending garage owner Barrier a notice she signed as property manager.
During the past two years,
three other buyers were rejected by
Rizzolo, but only one had verifiable personal assets. He told INSIDE
VEGAS that conditions were placed on him that he must employ former
Crazy Horse bosses, or his offer would be rejected.
In last week's Federal RICO
lawsuit, the plaintiff describes Rizzolo telling him that
Signorelli has no money and has never paid a cent in rent, and that
Rizzolo never intended to get paid by Signorelli. The plaintiff
also said he was asked to joint venture with Rizzolo and Signorelli,
and employ persons of their choosing.
Because Rizzolo is no longer allowed near an adult business, the buyer
rejected the illegal offer and filed his suit against Rizzolo and
Signorelli for trying to defraud him.
The law suit is part of the public record so it will now be interesting
to see if the City Council requires Signorelli to
produce canceled rent checks when they bring him back for
a scheduled three month review in January. It will also be interesting
to see if Judge Pro throws the book at Rizzolo for contempt of court,
and puts the Crazy Horse on the auction block like he should have done
At auction, the Feds can scrutinize the buyer and his backers, and it's
certain the price will be much less than what's currently on the table.
If any of the current bidders are for real, this should be very
inspiring and they should be shouting for immediate liquidation instead
of increasing their bids to the current Mob owners.
The first rejected bid occurred in 2005 when San Francisco based real
Brugnara offered Rizzolo $40 million. The second
came from Stuart
Cadwell, co-owner of Spearmint Rhino. Cadwell purportedly
offered $45 million for the club, but he disappeared when it was
revealed his business partner was a felon -- something the Federal
In the meantime, the asking price of the club kept skyrocketing even
though not one cent changed hands -- similar to insider trading on Wall
a Miami based businessman is suing Rizzolo and Signorelli for allegedly
breaching a $48 million buy out after Rizzolo reportedly signed a
Here's a link
to his fascinating 19 page lawsuit filed Friday, December 15, 2006.
In the suit, Plaintiff Tommy
Karas accuses Rizzolo and Signorelli of plotting to squelch his
deal if he didn't agree to include Rizzolo as a silent partner. This,
if true, would indicate Rizzolo is thumbing his nose at Judge Pro's
order he never be associated with the topless bar industry for the rest
of his life.
Therefore the contempt of court possibility coming weeks before Rizzolo
is scheduled to be sentenced
on January 16. Not a wise move on Rizzolo's part!
When the supposed feeding frenzy began, real estate experts and other
club owners (I must disclose that I am the landlord of Club Paradise)
were shocked at the numbers. It's well known locally that anyone could
buy a much better, larger piece of land and build a palace for half
what's been offered for the Crazy Horse.
Treasures is a palace. Built in 2004 amid heavy opposition from Rizzolo
and his sycophants at City Hall, the 25,000 square foot club cost $30
million. It's in a superior location nearer the Strip, and
includes a gourmet restaurant and art collection. But soon after its'
completion, DiFiore was there citing dancers for alleged acts of
prostitution. None were convicted, but he asked that the club be closed
nonetheless. The owners sued the City and soon re-opened.
The interior of the Crazy Horse was described as a "toilet" by several
FBI agents who raided
the place in February 2003. "You should have seen it when the lights
went on. It was filthy," one agent told INSIDE VEGAS. "They spray
perfume to cover the stench."
In response to the Karas law suit, Jeff German, senior investigative
reporter for the Las Vegas SUN,
weeks before his sentencing on tax evasion charges, Crazy Horse Too
landlord Rick Rizzolo has been hit with a federal lawsuit charging that
his leasing of the topless club to restaurateur Mike Signorelli is a
ruse designed to allow Rizzolo to continue calling the shots."
In a follow up article on December 22, German reported,
"Concerned over allegations they may have been duped into agreeing to a
deal that conceals the true ownership of a popular topless club, Las
Vegas City Council members said Thursday that the charges could prompt
them to reconsider their decision."
But German left one question unanswered: Why would anyone in their
right mind pay $45 or $48 million for a "toilet?" Rizzolo bought
the building and land from his former landlady Renata
Schiff for $5.5 million in 2002, and he was criticized for over
paying at the time. What's happened since to raise the ante?
The buyer's feeding frenzy
inspired me last Friday to send this e-mail to each member of the City
This story has stolen a day from my
own holiday, and I kind of regret having to tell it during this special
season. I hope hearing about Las Vegas' dark side during the Holidays
doesn't bum you out. If so, I apologize. But there is so much more!
In the end, "Operation Crazy Horse," as the FBI refers to it, could
incriminate our Mayor, a former
Councilman, and a Nevada
Supreme Court Judge. I sure hope what I'm telling you is just
the tip of the iceberg because Las Vegas deserves much more on the part
of the Feds.
It's unfortunate, but in past years investigations such as this were
cut short by ambitious FBI agents and Federal Prosecutors who learned
they could gain lucretive positions working for Strip casinos if they
backed off. Some did and are now employed on the Strip. Remember, no
casino owner wants to kill a whale.
Have a great New Year! And it you're a straw man reading this column, don't get too close to those Christmas
PS: Rick Rizzolo's attorney has told the judge his client was too sick
to attend his sentencing. This excuse has gotten the sentencing
postponed on two occasions and let the convicted felon binge through
the Holidays. Last week at his regular Monday night party at Piero's,
Rizzolo told several sources that Steve Miller was lying in these
columns by saying he's sick. He put it this way, "Tell that lying M - -
- - - F - - - - - I'm not sick!"
OK, I stand corrected. Now tell the judge....
Copyright © Steve Miller
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Copyright © Steve Miller
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