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Rizzolo too ill to testify
It's not yet known whether Rizzolo
will appear in his pajamas

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
December 4, 2006

Rick Rizzolo                                  Vincent "The Chin" Gigante                                    Michael Jackson                                 

LAS VEGAS - In the spirit of Vincent "The Chin" Gigante and Michael Jackson, convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo is also claiming to be too sick to show up for his legal obligations.

First scheduled to be sentenced on September 15 for his conviction on tax evasion and racketeering, Rizzolo has since claimed health problems and succeeded in having his sentencing delayed until December 8.

Most recently, his attorneys used health as a reason to try to keep their client from being deposed in a 2002 multi-million dollar civil harassment lawsuit brought by his next door neighbor Buffalo Jim Barrier, a former pro wrestler-cum auto garage owner.  However, Barrier's attorney Gus Flangas plans to press forward to obtain the deposition of Rizzolo before he turns himself in at the designated correctional facility, and to then depose a number of Rizzolo's associates who will soon be named as witnesses.

The November 13, 2006 minutes from Barrier's lawsuit state:
"Court noted that no discovery has yet been done because of the stays and Mr. Rizzolo's heath."

Also, still on the court's calendar is an ancient defamation of character lawsuit Rizzolo filed against Barrier for accusing him of racketeering and other criminal activity.

Thursday, September 21, 2000
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
COLUMN: John L. Smith
Topless bar owner's good name at stake in defamation lawsuit
Perhaps that's what a lawsuit filed Tuesday by Rizzolo's attorney, Dean Patti, seeks to discover. Rizzolo sued auto shop owner Jim Barrier for defamation in the wake of Barrier's own inflammatory lawsuit against Rizzolo outlining alleged criminal activity at the Crazy Horse Too.

After Rizzolo pleaded guilty thorough his corporation to racketeering, and personally to tax evasion, it will now be necessary for Rizzolo to testify in prison garb that what Barrier said in 2000 was untrue. Because of Barrier's sense of humor, he has never moved to have the case dismissed.

Since the outset of both cases, Rizzolo has repeatedly fallen sick just before a deposition was to be taken.

Legendary New York City Mafia boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, a.k.a. "The Pajama King," and "The Oddfather,"  was arraigned in 1996 on federal murder, racketeering and other charges following a ruling that he had been feigning sickness for 30 years in an effort to avoid prosecution for his Mafia activities.

It's not yet been determined whether Rizzolo is feigning sickness, though several of his physicians are expected to testify for the chain smoking felon at his sentencing.

Gigante was eventually brought into the New York courtroom wearing his bathrobe and pajamas. For subsequent hearings, he was rolled into court in a wheelchair while breathing oxygen.

At Rizzolo's hearing on June 1, he appeared to be drugged and sat glassy eyed during legal arguments. Then he slowly approached the bench and in a shaky voice pleaded guilty to all charges.

Gigante underwent open heart surgery Dec. 10, 1996. He was released from the hospital a month later. This didn't stop him from going to trial that summer, being convicted of racketeering, and sentenced to 12 years in prison starting December 1997.  He died in 2005.

Rizzolo, 47, is expected to receive from 15 months to five years in a Federal Prison Camp for his crimes, though he is also claiming heart problems. However, in this 2005 photo he's seen with his best friend Rocco Lombardo in the company of strippers, drinking heavily in one of his favorite local bars.

Gigante too was sometimes seen looking anything but sick during times when he suited up and attended political fund raisers for his favorite politicians. The following day he was back on the Greenwich Village streets in nightclothes, muttering incoherently.

Rizzolo of late, has also reportedly been seen wandering around Strip casinos (in street clothes) muttering incoherently while losing hundreds of thousands of dollars on the tables. It's not known what medications he's on, though his physician is expected to identify his medications at sentencing.

Like Gigante, when he wasn't on heavy meds, Rizzolo too attended  political fundraisers including one in April 2006 for Orange County (California) Sheriff Mike Carona.

"Vincent is a paranoid schizophrenic. He hallucinates. He's been that way since 1968," Gigante's brother the Rev. Louis Gigante once said, reeling off a list of daily medications that included Valium, and Thorazine. The strategy worked until 1990, when Gigante was indicted.

Rizzolo also has a priest who stands by his side and comes to his defense when needed. The Rev. Dave Casaleggio is his most loyal friend and advisor, reminiscent of Cardinal Lamberto in "Godfather." Casaleggio is often seen accompanying Rizzolo to social events and fancy restaurants. The priest is expected to be a character witness at Rizzolo's sentencing which will surely offend Camille Fau, the widow  of a man murdered at the Crazy Horse in 1995, and Amy Henry, the wife of Kirk Henry whose neck was broken in 2001 by one of Rizzolo's goons.

Michael Jackson in March 2005, like Vincent Gigante, appeared in court dressed in pajamas after the judge threatened to have him arrested on a bench warrant. Jackson said he'd been bitten by a spider and was too sick to be in court.

So far, Rizzolo has not claimed problems with spiders, though his future cell may attract scorpions since it's expected to be in the middle of the Mojave Desert near Victorville, California.

Following Rizzolo's sentencing (if he's well enough to attend), a number of his former employees are scheduled to be sentenced during January and February.
In this 2003
Review-Journal photo, Michael Muscato, Darren Brey, and Albert Rapuano are defendants at the wrongful death trial of Scott David Fau who several witnesses claimed was beaten to death in back of the Crazy Horse.

With the help of a friendly judge, the jury ruled in the defendant's favor.

However, three years later, Muscato, Brey, Rapuano, and thirteen other Crazy Horse employees pleaded guilty to multiple felonies (excluding murder).

If he's deemed physically and mentally fit enough to go to court for sentencing, Rizzolo is expected to turn himself in at a Federal Correctional Facility sometime in January.

In the meantime, two potential buyers of the recently reopened Crazy Horse have reported that their offers, one for $40 million, the other for $48 million, have been rejected by
The man who made the highest offer is currently preparing a lawsuit against Rizzolo and his purported buyer, Michael Signorelli, who the thwarted buyer's attorney described as a "straw man" placed there to fool Federal Court Chief Judge Philip Pro into thinking Rizzolo earnestly intends to follow court orders and sell the business and property before June 2007 when the Federal Court stated it would install a receiver in the event the club remains unsold.
Signorelli has twice declared bankruptcy, and was rejected as a buyer of the Riviera Hotel because he could not prove the financial ability to perform. On Oct. 4, Signorelli told the Las Vegas City Council he will pay Rizzolo $45 million dollars for the bar and property, but It was not volunteered where he will obtain the money, nor did the Council care to ask.
Attorneys for one of the rejected buyers were in Las Vegas on Friday and promised to share court documents regarding their client's lawsuit with this writer during the coming week.
After being informed of two squelched offers to purchase the Crazy Horse Too, I'm convinced that Rizzolo is representing the interests of organized crime members who have no intention of letting go of the lucrative club which is accused of being involved in the sale of narcotics, extortion, and prostitution.
Lawyers say that copies of the lawsuit will be provided to the FBI Organized Crime Strike Force who are continuing to investigate alleged connections between the Crazy Horse and La Cosa Nostra interests in Chicago and New York, along with the political corruption that keeps it open.
Sixteen convicted felons who were employed at the club will be sentenced in the U.S. District Court of Judge Kent Dawson after the first of the year. They include James Stressing who will be sentenced on Jan. 3, followed on Jan. 17 with the sentencing of Michael Muscato. On Jan. 24, Vincent Faraci, followed on Feb. 7 by Albert Rapuano, Robert DiApice, and Joseph Melfi. Darren Bray and Rocco Lombardo are scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 21.
Rizzolo is scheduled to be sentenced at 10:30 AM this Friday in Federal Court 7C, if he's feeling up to it.

It's not yet known whether Rizzolo will appear in his pajamas if he appears at all -- but if he does, INSIDE VEGAS will be there to let you know what happens.

Copyright © Steve Miller

Photo credits: Las Vegas Review-Journal: Clint Karlsen and John Gurzinski Buffalo Jim Barrier and Mike Christ
Napkinnights, The Orange County Weekly

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