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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:

"Voodoo shrine"
leads to alleged death threat

"He'll be dead in seven days"
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
February 23, 2004
         Bart Rizzolo                  Voodoo doll shrine in Crazy Horse office                Buffalo Jim Barrier (LV Review Journal photo)

LAS VEGAS -- At first it was considered a joke. Then on Friday, February 20, a Polaroid photo was hand delivered along with the message, "He'll be dead in seven days." The recipient was Vegas garage owner Buffalo Jim Barrier.

Widespread rumors were that Crazy Horse Too topless bar owners Rick and Bart Rizzolo had hired a Caribbean woman described as a "Voodoo person" to allegedly cast evil spells on Barrier. A witness described what he said were bizarre ceremonies attended by the Rizzolos where the woman, while chanting, would place pins in various parts of an action doll figure barrier gives away at wrestling matches.

No one took the rumors seriously -- until now.

Barrier, a former pro-wrestler and current sporting event promoter, has single-handedly stood up to the Rizzolos who have amassed a long record of alleged beatings and the possible murders of hapless bar patrons, some who allegedly refused to sign fraudulent credit card slips.

It was Barrier who on Sept. 20, 2001, photographed Kirk Henry lying paralyzed in front of the bar. Henry was injured after a dispute over an $80 tab by an employee who attacked him just outside the front doors breaking his neck. Barrier called 911 and proceeded to take photos. The next day, his photos appeared on the front page of a local newspaper and later on national TV.

Kirk Henry being transported (photo by Jim Barrier)

Because of Barrier's photos, the time and place of Henry's beating was highly publicized thereby eliminating the possibility of claiming Henry arrived at the Crazy Horse with prior injuries. Barrier's eyewitness statements and photos are also instrumental in an ongoing attempted murder lawsuit against Rick Rizzolo, and an organized crime investigation of his business by the FBI. Hence, the obvious burgeoning animosity toward Barrier.

After failing to stop the auto mechanic's criticism of his business practices, Rick Rizzolo sued Barrier for defamation of character. However, discovery in the case has been stalled pending results of the federal investigation.

To the obvious dismay of the Rizzolos and their attorneys *, Barrier continues to photographically document beatings at his neighbor's place of business.

According to Barrier, the messenger said, "Bart wants to give this to you. He said you've got seven days. The FBI is talking about the Chinese mob and they've got a Chinese hit man coming to take you out. Its real eerie to go in there. The chanting of them sticking pins in your feet. Its getting weirder and weirder. Bart had this giant guy with him and asked me to feel his muscles. He said he was sending the 6' 8", 350 pound bouncer to get you, " stated the messenger upon presenting the photo.

The messenger requested his name be withheld for safety reasons. The blurred Polaroid lends credence to rumors that someone erected a Voodoo type shrine in the Crazy Horse office where the doll figure of their next door nemesis reportedly stands beneath an Oriental calendar supposedly used to count the days remaining in their foe's life.

   Buffalo Jim doll

The day following receipt of the photo, Barrier filed a report of a death threat with the FBI who have had the Rizzolo's under investigation since February 20, 2003. He also filed a report with the LV Metro Police. He believes that fingerprints on the photo should be of interest to law enforcement officials.

Barrier commissioned the manufacture of hundreds of dolls in his likeness to be handed out at wrestling matches he promotes and other special events. "How did they get a hold of one of my dolls?" he asked. "I only give them to children and personal friends. I never thought one would get used in such a silly way."

If the death threat is verified, this would be the second time in recent years that Bart Rizzolo allegedly threatened someone's life.

In August 2000, Robert Westfall, the former owner of a nearby business stated in an affidavit that patrons of Crazy Horse "scatter trash and garbage consisting of greeting cards of the dancers, used condoms, drug paraphernalia consisting of used needles and empty 'baggies,' discarded beer bottles, liquor glasses and pornography of various types. Recently, I arrived at my business to find my parking lot again, particularly soiled with the above items. I went to the Crazy Horse Too and spoke with Bart Rizzolo. I asked if he would send someone to my property to clean my parking lot. Mr. Rizzolo refused to do so. I told him I would sweep it up and bring it down to Crazy Horse Too and dump it out. He replied that, if I did, he would 'blow my f---ing head off.'"

The Rizzolos are no strangers to the occult. The Reverend, Dr. Annette Rizzolo-Patterson is the minister of the "Universal Church for Life Enhancement" and the daughter of Bart Rizzolo. Patterson in 2000 was accused of opening the church to block issuance of a tavern license for a competitive topless club. When the ploy was revealed in the newspapers, she suddenly closed her church.

Luckily, Buffalo Jim Barrier is not a superstitious man. If he were, he would have voluntarily broken his long-term lease and moved to friendlier pastures based on the animus of his neighbors, men with known ties to organized crime.

In their effort to remove him to make way for the expansion of their nightclub, the Rizzolos purchased the shopping center in 2002 and immediately issued Barrier an eviction notice. After two court hearings, Barrier prevailed. The courts ruled he can remain in his 10,000 square foot garage that he rents for forty-three cents per foot until the lease expires in 2009. Subsequently, the expansion was halted while two new, much larger topless bars opened in close proximity.

"They practically give me the space for free. Why should I move out?" asked Barrier. "Anyway, these guys are making me famous as a wrestling promoter, and my garage business has never been better."

More to come.

* Steve Miller is a consultant in a civil lawsuit against Rick Rizzolo.

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