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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:

Buffalo Jim buried, but not put to rest - Part Two

There is nothing to indicate that anything was amiss when he was renting that room.
He was in no distress and appeared to be in good spirits. - Capt. Randy Montandon

ĎLisaí says she was with Barrier, failed to get help. - Las Vegas Sun

The police stopped returning my calls. - Jennifer Barrier

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
April 21, 2008

LAS VEGAS - Former professional wrestler and local mob buster Buffalo Jim Barrier was found dead in a Boulder Highway motel room on Sunday, April 6. He had died the night before. On April 4, the day before his death, a Welcome Home party was held for the man Barrier is given credit for sending to prison.

Guests at the party held at Piero's, a well known mob hang out,  included members of the Ferttita family who own Stations Casinos. The honoree was Rick Rizzolo, former owner of the now shuttered Crazy Horse Too strip club. More on this later.

According to Las Vegas Metro police, they viewed a four minute surveillance video tape showing a jovial Buffalo Jim checking in to Motel 6 at 8:20 PM on the night he died. He was never heard from again.

A spokesperson for the Clark County Coroner said that Barrier passed away some time between 7 and 9 PM that night.

This tape has not been shown to Barrier's four daughters who desperately need to begin the closure process. Seeing the tape will help them understand what their dad may have intended to do on the last night of his life, and it is vitally important that they be given this opportunity by the police.

On Tuesday, April 15, a woman identified as "Lisa" was interviewed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police according to the Las Vegas Sun. She reportedly told  police she was with Barrier when he had a "seizure," and she did nothing to help him.

Barrier was a type 2 diabetic. He had no history of seizures.

If "Lisa" is telling the truth, and she failed to get help for Barrier if he did actually have a seizure, in some states she could be prosecuted for depraved indifference.

"To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant's conduct must be so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendantís conduct, not the injuries actually resulting." - U.S. Legal Inc.

(Nevada has no depraved indifference law.)

Lisa was also apparently the same woman who called the Barrier residence at 9 and 10 PM April 5 leaving the messages: "Buffalo, are you all right? Call me." And "Buffalo, are you OK?" According to police, Lisa left a similar message on Barrier's cell phone that was found in the motel room along with her return number recorded in the phone's caller ID.

A former employee of Barrier's Allstate Auto garage told INSIDE VEGAS that over a two year period, a person named Lisa called the garage at least a dozen times to speak with Barrier. The employee said that when Barrier would take the calls, the two would converse for around five minutes, much longer than most calls Barrier received. He was a very busy man running a successful business.

Lisa may have been hesitant to come forward until contacted by police, or she may have come forward voluntarily. That information is not disclosed. She may have had something else to hide in addition to allegedly witnessing Buffalo have a seizure, then doing absolutely nothing to help him. Where was his roll of hundred dollar bills?

When Buffalo left home the night of his death at around 7:30, his daughters reported that he had a large quantity of cash in his pocket, something he was well known for. When he was found the next day, all his  cash was gone except for a one dollar bill, and his driver's license was missing. Several  persons had access to the cash during the time from his death until his body was removed from the room, persons including Lisa.

There are also questions surrounding this email I received at 7:04 PM the night of Buffalo's death:
Subject: Please contact me. I am very concerned and upset 
Date: 4/6/2008 7:04:21 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time 
From: (email address withheld by SM)
To: Stevemiller4lv 

Steve: I just received notice that Buffalo Jim was the victim of a horrible accident. Please Steve, this is someone I know and like - let me know if it is true.
(name withheld by SM)

At the moment  this email was sent, Jerrica and Elise Barrier were identifying the body of their father. I was the first person they called after making positive ID. They called me at 7:30 PM, twenty six minutes after I received the above message from a relative of a man who for years was paid to do favors for Rick Rizzolo and his associates Fred Doumani and Joey Cusumano.

Why was this person the first to know of Buffalo's death?

Though the police are aware of the above email, I'm sure by now they have at least examined all of  Lisa's phone records to learn if she made or received calls from certain people before and after Barrier's death. At least I'm second guessing the police have done this by now...

When police were called to the motel after a maid found Barrier's body in the room at 1:30 the following afternoon, his Rolls Royce Silver Shadow was reportedly not present. According to the Barrier girls, the police questioned them extensively as to what kind of car their dad drives, and had he driven it the night before. If the Rolls was at Motel 6, someone must have seen it arrive, and leave. It's been verified that the huge car was in the motel parking lot at around 8 PM Sunday after police had completed their investigation and declared Barrier died of "natural causes," or "suicide." A Rolls Royce in a budget motel parking lot is hard to miss.

When photographer Mike Christ arrived at the motel around 8 PM, he called to report that the car was parked prominently in front of the office, saying "Even Stevie Wonder could see it!"

Did Lisa drive the car away from the motel the night before, and return it after police had left the scene Sunday evening? Another good question for me to second guess the police with.

When I went to the front desk several days after my friend's death, the clerk on duty said he was not the one who checked Barrier in, but that his computer showed that it was the first time Barrier had rented a room at that facility. The next day, Motel 6 corporate offices forbid employees from discussing the case with reporters.

Since Barrier's fully clothed body was discovered, police have not considered investigating  this case as a homicide. Therefore the family at their personal expense hired their own private pathologist and private investigator to try to find answers. They have also held rallies to get media attention to keep their father's cause of death investigation alive.

Las Vegas is a busy news town with one of the highest crime rates in the nation. There's plenty of news of other mysterious deaths, murders, gang drive by shootings, robberies and violent crimes to keep reporters occupied all day and night. The story of the mysterious death of a small business owner who was responsible for shutting down a mob owned topless bar that for years was known for beating customers out of their money can easily get lost in such a daily deluge of horrible news stories.

This is no longer the peaceful small town Buffalo Jim Barrier and I grew up in.

Anyway, "What happens in Vegas, (really) stays in Vegas," as the saying goes. This is the real "Sin City," after all, and most of our local citizenry take pride in  this stupid moniker. This is the town that three times elected Tony "The ant" Spilotro's criminal defense attorney as its mayor, so what else can we expect?

Hopefully  our police have such a hot lead in this case that they've stopped communicating with the Barrier family for fear of leaks tipping off suspects. Or the police have possibly closed the case and moved on to others. I know they have their hands full with what our town has become.

In the meantime, the family's private investigator is following every lead. However, based on the past performance of our local District Attorney David Roger, even after a comprehensive report was submitted with a request for prosecution from Metro police in the Kirk Henry beating case, Roger still decided to dismiss the carefully prepared case.

This kind of action from a DA is very discouraging to dedicated street cops and detectives who see persons they risked their lives to arrest back on the street after a wink from a DA who obviously cares more about where his next political campaign contribution will come from than for the safety of the public.

Only after Roger dropped the Henry case could the FBI ask the U.S. Attorney to prosecute. That's the way the law works. It then took five years to find justice. Henry's neck was broken in September 2001. His assailant, Crazy Horse bouncer Bobby DiApice, was sentenced in January 2006 despite David Roger's best efforts to let him off.

Based on the DA's dismal performance in all cases that involved the Crazy Horse, I wonder what if anything would happen on a local level if the family's private investigator produced a confession, or discovered someone with blood on their hands and asked Roger to prosecute? History says that Roger would not react in any way that would injure persons associated with the Rizzolos who were heavily responsible for funding his initial run for public office, even with such overwhelming evidence as was generated by Metro in the Kirk Henry case.

The Barrier daughters know about our DA's record with the Henry case, but remain relentless in their quest to find out if their dad was murdered, and if so, will ask the FBI and Department of Justice to take over the case before the local DA can dismiss it.

And it remains to be seen whether the newly appointed U.S. Attorney for Nevada -- the same person who recently enjoined a California bank's motion to help them remove Kirk Henry from being in first position to get paid if the Crazy Horse real estate sells -- would wish to prosecute someone suspected of taking the life of a government witness who provided information in a case against a well connected mob family?

The previous U.S. Attorney for Nevada, Daniel Bogden, was mysteriously fired along with seven other U.S. Attorneys in other states. All had spotless records, and all were involved in investigations or prosecutions involving public officials suspected of helping organized crime.

Nevada's new U.S. Attorney appears to have a far different agenda than Bogden when it comes to organized crime prosecutions.

Two toxicology tests are currently underway following dual autopsies of Buffalo Jim. The results are not expected for four to six weeks. In the meantime, if foul play was involved in this death, the trail gets colder by the day.

Since Barrier's death, Rick and Bart Rizzolo has been observed on the Crazy Horse property talking to men who rent warehouse space. They have no apparent business there since the property was seized by the United States of America. Also observed watching the property is Fred Doumani, a close associate of the Rizzolos.

According to witnesses, Rick Rizzlolo told them he will be allowed to go back in to the adult business, and he will reopen the shuttered bar in the near future. We know this is not true based on the plea bargain ruling that states: "... he will not own or operate or have any involvement with any strip clubs or similar businesses involved in pornography or erotic entertainment or media in the United States and its territories for the rest of his life."

So what are the Rizzolos up to now that their chief nemesis is dead, other than apparently trying to intimidate employees of Allstate Auto?

Kirk Henry's attorneys Stan Hunterton and Donald Campbell have been informed that Rick Rizzolo just sold his interest in the Phillidelphia Crazy Horse Too, so there should be plenty of money to attach to pay their client the $9 million still owed him since he was paralized in 2001, along with their legal fees. If they don't jump on this opportunity, then they're asleep at the switch.

According to multiple sources, Rick Rizzolo is busy helping his god son Rick Belcastro open a new club called Bada Bing in spite of what his plea agreement says. I'm also told that several other new clubs are in the works that Rizzolo and his friends are secretly behind, clubs with names like, "Oceans 11," "Eden," and "All that jazz." Most of the new clubs are located on properties owned by the Fertitta family, and are expected to be run by Rizzolo family members and former Crazy Horse Too bouncers.

If this is true, Clark County licensing officials and Metro Police Special Investigations should pay attention. All the venues are located outside the jurisdiction of Rick Rizzolo's former criminal defense attorney Oscar Goodman, the current mayor of Las Vegas. Clark County has much tougher laws and higher standards than those Goodman has thrust upon his LV city government, a city with a downtown full of seedy motels he once said should be turned into a string of "magnificent brothels."

When New York Times columnist Bob Herbert criticized Goodman for his bizarre remark, Goodman responded, "I'll take a baseball bat and break his head if he ever comes here."

With that being said by our city's highest official and nary a mention from the local media, along with the Nevada Gaming Control Board turning their backs on unlimited gaming license holders like the Fertiittas fraternizing with known criminals -- something forbidden by Nevada law, no wonder our once beautiful community is being taken over by a bunch of thugs!

Hopefully our county commissioners do not share Goodman's loyalties. Even though most of the population of this valley consider themselves "Las Vegans," and think he's the mayor of the entire metropolitan area, less than half our valley's population actually live within the Las Vegas city limits.

The Rizzolo's suspected new topless bars are all located outside their pal's jurisdiction, and hopefully the county leaders won't also succumb to the comped booze, sexual favors, cash, and legal fees the generous strip club owners offer.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Las Vegas was a much safer and better place to live in or visit when the old mob ran the town. All that guys like Moe Dalitz and Meyer Lansky did was skim cash from the casinos. They avoided hurting anybody, and when they did, it didn't happen here.

When I was a kid during their reign, there was no street crime and we could leave our doors unlocked at night. Our schools were also the best in the nation because their kids lived here.

Now the new Russian, Italian, Mexican, and Asian mobs rob, beat, drug, and kill people, not to mention they spread HIV all over the world by letting their "massage therapists," escorts, and strippers practice unprotected sex for hire.

I hate to use the expression, "Don't shit where you eat," but it applied to the old Vegas mob. It was once a great town!

Now many of the new mob leaders don't even live here. The hoods have beach homes in Orange County, California and run their LV enterprises by remote control. They even have their own restaurant! In other words, they shit all over Vegas while living in a mobster's paradise a hop skip and a jump from Vegas by private jet.

In the meantime, the old Crazy Horse building is steadily falling into a state of dereliction. The once brightly lit facade is checkered with burnt out panels. Only a handful of the once inviting clear light bulbs are still on, and the only person present on the property after dark is a lone security guard who is paid by the U.S. Marshal's Service.

Buffalo Jim's Allstate Auto service is still open with the Barrier daughters in charge. Buffalo Jim's giant smoke belching Buffalo stands guard 24/7 in front of the repair shop as a sad reminder of the passing of  "Las Vegas Most Colorful Character."

In life, Buffalo cared most about his four daughters. Second only to them, he wanted to see the violence at his neighbor's place of business come to an end.  He got his wish before he died. And now because of the mystery surrounding his death, the name Buffalo Jim and his bigger than life personna will be remembered for many years to come for his courage and sacrifice.

Like the words of his favorite song said, "You can't judge a book by its cover."

As one of Buffalo Jim's best friends, I'm not sure how to cover the rest of this story for my INSIDE VEGAS readers. I have dozens of hilarious stories to tell about the amazing man, but with so little apparently being done to bring closure to his family, I don't believe this is the proper time.

We will wait for the toxicology reports. If the death of Buffalo Jim can be proven to be natural, and foul play can be completely ruled out by our experts, his  family and friends must be ready to accept the findings and move on. But with so many death threats, an attempted hit and run, "Lisa," and other circumstantial evidence still waiting to be investigated by local police, the cause of the mysterious death of Buffalo Jim Barrier is far from being solved.

And a word of warning. Las Vegas is no longer a safe place to live in or visit.

September 21, 2007 (Photo by Steve Miler)          April 12, 2008 (LV Review-Journal)

Copyright © Steve Miller

The Nevada Observer
Reno, Nevada - April 15, 2008

Opinion: Itís Time For A Change  From Sin City Concept

The Las Vegas concept of what happens here stays here got a jolt in the gut on Sunday, April 6 when the body of Buffalo Jim Barrier was discovered in a motel along the Boulder Highway, because that death could change the way things are done in Clark County.  Itís time for the general public to realize that criminal activity is not limited to obnoxious young punks flipping gang signs, that criminal activity takes place in the highest levels of government in that county.  And right now, it appears as though some very high level protection is taking place.

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