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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:

Rick Rizzolo's Watch Tells More Than Time
Racketeer who owes the IRS millions of dollars appears in
U. S. Court wearing a $26,000 watch and accompanied
by his priest. Government asks judge for three extra
years of parole and three months behind bars for
violating the conditions of supervised release

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
February 28, 2011

LAS VEGAS - He owes the IRS millions in back taxes, penalties, and interest, and has an unpaid debt to a beating victim of over $9 million dollars.

Rick Rizzolo and his ex-wife Lisa (not yet charged with a crime) secretly stashed tens of millions cash in the Cook Islands right in the middle of a personal injury lawsuit three weeks before beginning plea negotiations where he agreed to pay all his debts in exchange for an abbreviated prison sentence.

But last Tuesday, the convicted racketeer and former Crazy Horse Too strip club owner seemed not to have a care in the world. Or he may have been heavily sedated.
                 CLICK TO ENLARGE
Brand  Rolex
Style  Daytona
Model #  1116505-BKSO
Gender  Mens
Case Rose Gold
Bezel Material Rose Gold
Movement  Automatic
Dial Color Black with Rose Gold
Bracelet/Strap Rose Gold
Crystal Sapphire

At the entrance to the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas, Rizzolo nonchalantly flashed one of his expensive time pieces while lighting up a smoke.

Right behind Rizzoloduring his amazing display of wealth ( photo by Mike Christ) was Rizzolo's personal priest and spiritual advisor Father Dave Casaleggio. Upon exiting the courthouse with his pal, the man of God immediately spotted the well known photographer and looked directly into Christ's lens (no pun intended).

The basis for Rizzolo and Casaleggio's appearance in U.S. Judge Philip Pro's court on Tuesday was well covered in the local press.
Judge to decide if former strip club owner should return to jail 
By Jeff German 
Feb. 23, 2011 
Federal probation officials say former Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo unlawfully hid $1 million from the sale of a Philadelphia strip club from them for more than two years. And now they want a judge to send him back to prison for violating the terms of his April 4, 2008, supervised release. 


Feds drop effort to sell closed Crazy Horse Too strip club
By Jeff German 
Feb. 24, 2011 
Pro's ruling from the bench Thursday gives lawyers for Henry and his wife, Amy, the green light to go after Rizzolo personally for money he owes the couple. The Henrys are suing Rizzolo for fraud in federal court, alleging he created a sham divorce with his wife, Lisa, to avoid paying them. 


According to court records, a distressed mortgage buyer picked up the Crazy Horse Too building and property from the now defunct Security Pacific Bank for only $750,000 in a FDIC forced sale. In 2005, Security Pacific loaned Rizzolo $5 million which he had no intention of paying back. He and his ex-wife Lisa stashed the $5 million in the Cook Islands. Rizzolo's action contributed to the bank's failure.

In addition to the $5 million, Mrs. Rizzolo also stashed two Oppenheimer accounts valued at the time at $7.2 million.

Now, the buyer of the mortgage is going to auction off the derelict warehouse and property, but several factors diminish its value.

A 28 foot deep swath is scheduled to be taken from the front of the property by eminent domain for a road widening project, and the 1960's era cinder block structure is falling apart with a section about to crumble into a sink hole caused by years of water leaking from a broken pipe under the building (the average water bill was $6,000 per month). Experts do not expect the property to sell for much more than $1 million, and zoning laws prevent it from ever reopening as a strip club.

Even if the place was picked up for a song by one of Rizzolo's cronies, the one man in City Hall who could effectuate a rushed new liquor license, outgoing Mayor Oscar Goodman -- Rizzolo's former criminal defense attorney, leaves office in June allowing no time for a new liquor license application to be processed or a zoning change approved. Rizzolo's former flunky Mike McDonald was ousted from the LV City Council in 2003. No one running to replace Goodman has any known connections to Rizzolo, so the likelihood of a re-born Crazy Horse Too is next to impossible at this late hour.

At last Tuesday's hearing in U.S. Federal Court, one of Rizzolo's worst dreams may have come true; Judge Pro approved the United States Attorney's request to subpoena Pennsylvania businessman Vince Piazza.

The last thing the owner of eleven auto dealerships needs is to have his good name tied together with one of Las Vegas' most notorious bad boys.

I even wrote a column about it:
Dad of Major League hitter may hold a key to Rick Rizzolo's future jail cell

"He who sleeps with dogs, wakes up with fleas"

       Rick Rizzolo             Vince Piazza                        Mike Piazza

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
October 18, 2010

LAS VEGAS - While racketeer Rick Rizzolo was serving his prison sentence, he secretly participated in the $3 million dollar sale of his portion of the Philadelphia Crazy Horse Too. Rizzolo did not report the transaction to the IRS or his creditors including unpaid beating victim Kirk Henry.

According to documents discovered in September 2010, Rizzolo was set to receive $3 million from his business partner Vince Piazza, the father of famous baseball player Mike Piazza, for Rizzolo's share of the strip club (photo on left). 

In a MOTION filed on October 8, 2010, attorneys for Kirk Henry asked the United States Federal Court to extend the time for Discovery in Henry's personal injury case so his legal team can depose Vince Piazza to ascertain whether Rick or Lisa Rizzolo received at least $2 million of the $3 million dollars under the table. 

However, being subpoenaed to talk about his association with a convicted racketeer is the last thing a highly respected Pennsylvania businessman and humanitarian like Vince Piazza needs. 

Vince Piazza is a pillar of the community, an exemplary father, and highly successful businessman who's Piazza Auto Group operates 11 car dealerships in Pennsylvania. 


One week after my column was published, Rizzolo's attorneys filed an Objection to Piazza being deposed. I wrote an article about that too:

I can fully understand why Mr. Piazza might not want to be deposed or in any way associated with a convicted felon like Rick Rizzolo. According to the Los Angeles Times, Piazza in 1992 reportedly failed a security check of his background and was forced to withdraw from a group trying to buy the then-San Francisco Giants.

He also made several more attempts to join groups trying to buy Major League teams including a stab at buying the Florida Marlins from Wayne Huizenga (owner of Republic Silver State Disposal in Las Vegas).

Unfortunately -- for unknown reasons -- all five of Piazza's attempts at MLB ownership failed.

And to make the prospects of owning a Major League team even more distant, in 2005, Piazza got involved with Rick Rizzolo.

Now, Rizzolo's refusal to pay his court ordered debts brings Piazza back into the spotlight, a spotlight I bet he'd like to avoid like the plague!

Back to Father Dave. Upon his retirement as Pastor at Our Lady of Las Vegas Church, Father Dave Casaleggio became parish administrator of Saint Anne Catholic School in Las Vegas.

According to sources at Our Lady, Father Dave made a rather hasty departure based on several newspaper stories:
Sep. 02, 2007 
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal 
GRAND JURY PROBE: Friend in time of need 
A priest, a topless club owner and a politician. 

Casaleggio, who counts Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo and former Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald among his close friends, was questioned by federal prosecutors about $30,000 he loaned to McDonald more than four years ago.


Sep. 26, 2008 

Casaleggio, known to many as "Father Dave," doesn't seem to care much what others might think of his hanging out with the likes of former Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo or former Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald, each of whom has borne his share of negative press over the years.


Thursday, August 05, 1999
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Ordinances target adult businesses
By Steve Friess 

Still, Casaleggio insisted he isn't pushing the issue to prevent The Sporting House from becoming competition for Rizzolo's business. The priest said his friendship with the strip-club owner came about because Rizzolo's children have attended the church's school.


Based on his unusual group of parishioners and his penchant for protecting their fortunes, I also wrote about him in 2006:

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 28, 2006

Enter Father Dave Casaleggio, Rizzolo's personal priest. 

In the movie "Godfather II," as the music reaches a climax, the chain smoking priest turns and asks Michael Corleone:

Priest:      "Michael Francis Rizzi (the baby) do you renounce Satan?"
Michael Corleone (Godfather):   "I do renounce him."
Priest:      "And all his works?"
Michael:   "I do renounce them."
Priest:      "And all his pomps?"
Michael:   "I do renounce."
Priest:      "Michael Francis Rizzi, will you be baptized?"
Michael:   "I will."
Priest:      "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit go in peace, and may the Lord be with you."

Interspersed through these scenes are the brutal slayings of all Michael Corleone's enemies. The scenes remind me of Rizzolo's bloodied victims. 

This week, Father Dave Casaleggio lobbied members of the City Council asking they vote to allow the Crazy Horse Too to remain open. 

The Reverend is a mutual friend of Rizzolo and the Mayor who before being elected made a fortune defending brutal criminals such as Tony "The Ant" Spilotro. On January 24, 2006, Mayor Goodman appointed the Rev. Casaleggio to the Board of Directors of the Las Vegas Housing Authority. 

However, in 1999, it was none other than the Rev. Casaleggio who appeared before the Clark County Commission asking that they not allow a Crazy Horse competitor to convert the former Sporting House fitness club into what is now Sapphire Gentleman's club! 

He drove to the commission meeting in his new Lexus, a gift from Rick Rizzolo. There, the Priest proclaimed to be representing the interests of his congregation (which included the Rizzolo family, his attorneys, and a number of Crazy Horse goons). He said his "congregation" objected to another strip club in the area, though Sapphire was one mile farther from his church than the Crazy Horse that expanded the previous year without Father Dave's protestation.

Members of my family regularly worship at Our Lady of Las Vegas, and say that no one asked the Priest to intervene in the strip club matter.

Following Casaleggio's mysterious appearance before the County Commission, Our Lady of Las Vegas canceled his contract.  Rizzolo's attorneys Dean Patti and Tony Sgro filed a lawsuit on Casaleggio's behalf against the Diocese of Las Vegas, and Casaleggio was temporarily reinstated until his contract expired the next year. 

Rev. Casaleggio, once the proud pastor of the city's most prestigious church, is currently a pastor with the Nevada prison system. Maybe there, he can better represent his true congregation -- convicted criminals. 

When Rev. Casaleggio departed Our Lady of Las Vegas, Rizzolo, his friends, and family became parishioners at another parish.

Rev. Casaleggio is expected to testify before the Las Vegas City Council on Sept. 6 in favor of allowing the Crazy Horse to remain open, and as a character witness for Rick Rizzolo at his Sept. 15 sentencing. In past years, the Reverend reportedly traveled with Rizzolo to Chicago to be a character witness for Rizzolo's son Dominic who had gotten into trouble with the law, so the Priest should be quite effective at Rick Rizzolo's sentencing.

It's amazing how some criminals can find salvation each Sunday, then bash heads during the rest of the week!


Evidently, Father Dave's spiritual guidance is not very effective.

In Rizzolo's case, a series of beatings including the death of Scott David Fau, and the crippling of Kirk Henry occurred during the Reverend and Rick's long friendship.

Father Dave's spiritual inspiration was also cherished by the Rizzolo family in 2008 when Rick's son Dominic was convicted of Battery With The Use Of A Deadly Weapon. Even though Father Dave went to bat for him years earlier in Chicago, Dominic hadn't learned his lesson. Several years later he tried to kill a man during a botched extortion attempt. With the help of his dad's connections in Clark County District Court, he got off once again.

So try as he may, Father Dave Casaleggio's spiritual guidance does not seem to be working too good when it comes to his parishioners who just happen to also be part of Las Vegas' seamy underworld.

But despite Father Dave's best efforts, the tide seems to be turning on the Rizzolos.

On March 29, Judge Pro is scheduled to hear arguments from the United States attorney and Rick Rizzolo's parole officer Eric Christiansen. Both are asking that Rizzolo be sent back to prison for three months and his parole extended for three years. Even with Father Dave's blessings, I don't believe Judge Pro will be keen to ignore the Government's requests, especially with the LV Review-Journal, Nevada's largest newspaper, now covering every detail of this drawn out ordeal.

I've been covering this case for over twelve years, a case that should have been resolved years ago.

Back in 2005, while Rizzolo was involved in plea bargaining and his wife and another U.S. Judge's brother were busy stashing the couple's ill-gotten fortune in the Cook Islands, the late Buffalo Jim Barrier and I visited Al Capone's ice cold cell in Alcatraz and had this photo taken. Buffalo sent it to Rizzolo with the caption "Your Next Abode."

Buffalo Jim Barrier died in April 2008 under mysterious circumstances the day after Rizzolo was released from prison.

A good sign that this case may finally be coming to an end came last Tuesday when all motions made by Rizzolo's attorney Dominic Gentile were denied including ones to squelch a Judgment Debtor Exam, force the Government to perform provisions of Rizzolo's plea agreement, and strike the modification of his parole.

Also at Tuesday's hearing, Kirk Henry's attorney Stan Hunterton told the court that Rizzolo with the approval of his parole officer and without reporting to the court or to Henry's attorneys began sending donations of $1,000 per month to Henry as "restitution," and that it would take Rizzolo over 750 years to pay off his obligation at that rate. Using this as an example, Hunterton said that Rizzolo's secret $1,000 payments were "emblematic of putting his finger in the eye of the law," and clearly displays contempt for the court - and that Rizzolo if allowed to continue, "wins because his goal in life is to never pay Henry or the IRS." Hunterton ended by saying, "The only thing this man understands is being locked up. He holds this court and Mr. Henry in utter contempt.  Incarcerate him!"

U.S Attorney Johnson then told the court that the Government agrees with everything Hunterton said.

Rizzolo's attorney Dominic Gentile told Judge Pro, "You have the power (to revoke Rizzolo's parole), but not the authority." "Today is not the day to be pointing twenty fingers."

Gentile contends that the Government botched all sales of the Crazy Horse Too since 2008 including one for $35 million - enough to cover all the Rizzolo's debts. However, the Government determined that all purported buyers were either associated with Rizzolo, or "failed to perform."

I believe we are nearing the end of the road, at least as far as Rick's freedom is concerned. On March 29, I think Judge Pro will comply with the Government's requests and put Rizzolo back in jail for three months and extend his parole for another three years.

That still won't bring justice to this case. Until Kirk Henry receives the $9 million dollars included in Rizzolo's plea bargain, the court is spinning its wheels while the public grows increasingly distrustful of the Nevada Federal Court system.

If Rizzolo is sent to jail for only 90 days, he'll probably come out more inclined to thumb his nose at the IRS and Henry. "The only thing this man understands is being locked up."

With so much clear evidence of collusion, tax evasion, and fraudulent transfers of assets, it shouldn't be difficult for Judge Pro to do what a U.S. Judge in Minnesota did in the Trever G. Cook case, take away his passport and order Rick Rizzolo to repatriate his off shore stashed fortune, or stay in prison until he does.

Or the U.S. Attorney can bring charges against Rizzolo's ex-wife Lisa for conspiring to hide money from the IRS.

Whatever happens on March 29, it's certain that Rizzolo's Rolex will keep ticking away the hours until he and his ex-wife are forced to pay their debts to society. And it's certain that Father Dave Casaleggio will continue to "renounce Satan," whomever he believes that to be.

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