| Home | Books and Gifts | Photo Album | Mob Busters | Mafia Site Search |
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:

Columnist's home possible target of political pay back

Eminent Domain disaster narrowly averted,
and Steve Miller takes it personally

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
April 27, 2009

Secret NDOT Design Drawing showing new road through INSIDE VEGAS columnist's home

LAS VEGAS - Last Saturday was a typical spring day in my quiet suburban neighborhood less than a mile west of the bustling Las Vegas Strip. I was across the street visiting with a neighbor when a very upset middle aged woman approached us. In her hand was an 11 by 17 inch glossy NDOT Design Concept showing a portion of the city of Las Vegas. The official paper was obliquely titled "Nevada Department of Transportation  I-15 RESORT CORRIDOR ALTERNATIVE 'A.'"  She said she'd just learned that her home in the adjacent Rancho Sereno neighborhood was under threat of being taken by Eminent Domain for a new city street leading to the Palace Station, a neighborhood casino that recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Upon close examination, I discovered that the NDOT generated document included a bold orange line drawn directly through the lady's home and twenty five more on her street, and through my home and four others located in the vintage Rancho De Monaco neighborhood to the east. Attached to the drawing was a public notice telling of a hearing to take place the following Tuesday -- just two days away.

This was the first time any of my neighbors including several attorneys and the owner of a engineering company that does business with City, County, and NDOT had heard of the plan. We were flabbergasted?

Having personally served a four year term as a Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner, I keep up on this sort of thing, but my neighbors and I had obviously been kept in the dark about the imminent "Interchange and Arterial Improvement" plan. However, being familiar with the normal governmental process that emphasizes transparency and public participation  -- and since neither had occurred -- I took immediate action and produced the following flier that was hand delivered to my neighbors and media informing them for the first time of the draconian plan.
Westlund Drive, El Camino Ave., & Lourdes Ave. homeowners
Our beautiful homes are under threat of Eminent Domain seizure! 

A public hearing is scheduled for 6 PM Tuesday at the LV Valley Water District conference room on West Charleston and Valley View to hear the City of Las Vegas and Nevada Department of Transportation's proposal to destroy Rancho De Monaco and Rancho Sereno in order to construct an interconnect between Rancho Dr. and Teddy Dr. 

Please attend this meeting and express your outrage. 

Thank you,
Steve Miller
Former Ward One LV City Councilman
Former Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner
30 year resident of Rancho De Monaco

Included with my flier was an assessor's parcel map showing the 30+  threatened homes.

I also attached two INSIDE VEGAS columns telling of a similar NDOT Eminent Domain threat made against Allstate Auto, the business owned by the late Buffalo Jim Barrier. His garage was standing in the way of the expansion of politically connected racketeer Rick Rizzolo's topless bar the Crazy Horse Too.

I included NDOT's 2003 design drawing (below) showing a custom designed driveway going directly through Barrier's business. My columns identified Tony Letizia as the Program Development Manager in charge of the questionable project -- coincidentally the same NDOT official in charge of this latest threat against my neighborhood.  Because he was to be one of the hosts of Tuesday's neighborhood meeting, and based on his history with the Crazy Horse driveway scheme, I could hardly wait to publicly challenge him on his latest proposal!

Secret 2003 NDOT Design Drawing of access improvements for topless bar including
dedicated left turn lane with traffic signal and island

I helped Barrier in 2003 to speak out and stop the illegal taking of his leasehold.  Now it appeared my chickens had come home to roost, and it was time to speak out again -- and quick! So on Sunday, I notified hundreds of my neighbors that their homes in our vintage neighborhoods may get bulldozed.  To Mr. Letizia's dismay, these were the columns that accompanied my public notice:

Hypocrisy - Sin City Style
Connecting the Dots

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
March 24, 2003

For example; maybe its just a coincidence, but Tom Letizia's cousin Tony Letizia is the Nevada Transportation Department's (NDOT) program development manager in Southern Nevada.  NDOT has recently proposed the taking of Buffalo Jim Barrier's leaseholds by eminent domain to make way for Rizzolo to expand his (topless bar) business. NDOT has also proposed an expensive - tax funded - signalization system and dedicated left turn lane into the yet-to-be approved expanded Crazy Horse.   Barrier in 1976, moved into the industrial center where the Crazy Horse later located. Since moving in next to Barrier in 1984, Rizzolo has failed in several court attempts to remove Barrier to make way for expansion. Now it appears he wants the government to do the deed.

When asked if his department was involved in the proposed eminent domain taking, Tony Letizia answered, "Number one, I don't know who Frederick Rizzolo is nor have I ever met or heard of him. Two, although I work for NDOT, I am unaware of a proposed project to provide access to a business. Three, Tom Letizia is my cousin not my nephew who I've not spoken to in years."


Be Careful What You Ask For…
You might just get it!

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
July 3, 2006

At their depositions, (Barrier's attorney Gus) Flangas asked Tony Letizia about his cousin Tom Letizia who handles the advertising for the Crazy Horse, and is Mayor Goodman's campaign manager, fund raiser, and advisor. Flangas inquired whether Tony had been influenced in any way to help his cousin's two clients? Flangas also asked (former City of Las Vegas Public Works Director Richard) Goecke if he had been ordered by Mayor Goodman or Councilman McDonald to design the driveway in such a way as to ruin Barrier's business? Both denied the allegations, but must have gotten the hint.

By the fact that Letizia and Goecke were the only public officials deposed, it was made clear that if Barrier is somehow removed by the city to make way for the expansion of a topless bar, he's going to sue those public officials who he considers co-conspirators to put him out of business. According to Nevada legal precedent, former and present public officials can be named as defendants in their individual capacities in civil suits, and have to pay their own legal fees.


NDOT official Tony Letizia's cousin Tom owns the Public Relations and Advertising firm that represented the Crazy Horse Too in 2003 when Rizzolo wanted Barrier's business removed by the state. The January 28, 2003 LV Review-Journal confirmed the relationship when they wrote: "Tom Letizia, advertising executive who represents Crazy Horse...."

Tom Letizia (right) also works for Mayor Oscar Goodman (left) who as a private attorney defended Rick Rizzolo in an attempted murder case. At the time, Goodman was famous for requiring a one-half million dollar retainer from his criminal clients.

Tom Letizia is the son in law of Fred Glusman the owner of Piero's in Las Vegas and the Ritz in Newport Beach.  Both Glusman and Goodman have claimed Rizzolo to be one of their best friends. The Ritz was the scene of "Rick's Farewell Party" to honor Rizzolo the week before he went to prison.

Both Glusman's restaurants are used as venues to raise campaign funds for Nevada politicians. Glusman and Letizia's choices for Nevada governor have been hosted at these fundraisers.  Because NDOT is overseen by the Governor, I can't help but wonder whether politics had something to do with Tony Letizia's job placement at the agency?

Former pro wrestler Buffalo Jim was known to occasionally go the Ritz to hand out newspaper articles about Rizzolo's mob activities. Rizzolo has a second home in Newport Beach as do many Vegas movers and shakers, so Barrier's repeated presence at their favorite hang out may have made them uncomfortable.


In January 2003, Rick Rizzolo was quoted in the Las Vegas Mercury saying, "Buffalo Jim is full of shit! Somebody filled his head with the idea that I'm going to pay upwards of a million dollars for his lease, but that's ludicrous. I'm not the least bit interested in his space. I don't need it. I haven't talked to him whatsoever." The article went on to state, "Rizzolo says a street-widening project that's slated to get rolling in the next few years will render the whole conflict moot, as Barrier will have to negotiate with the state Department of Transportation and Rizzolo will raze the whole shopping center--including Crazy Horse Too and Buffalo Jim's auto marine shop--and build a new 60,000-square-foot gentlemen's club."

Curiously, Rizzolo made the above statement before public notification of any street widening plan, therefore speculation arose as to how he knew about it before the public was informed?

Buffalo went to the media with his problem, and NDOT backed down. (Buffalo Jim Barrier was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a Boulder Highway motel room the day after Rizzolo was released from prison.)

Based on the above history, I was more than concerned when Tony Letizia's name appeared six years later as the Manager on another clandestine NDOT Design Drawing -- this time to bulldoze my family's home of thirty years and destroy two classic Las Vegas neighborhoods in the process!

Though the closeness of the cousins invites inquiry, and though I like Tom Letizia as a person, I felt compelled to go public with my 2003 and 2006 columns in order to help save my home and neighborhood. The inclusion of the columns with my public notices about the Tuesday meeting inspired the following angry e-mail -- with a surprise happy ending:
Date: 4/20/2009 3:37:13 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time 

Mr. Miller, 

Once again you have distorted the truth and have made false allegations about me. Let me set the record straight for you. The I-15 Resort Corridor Study purpose is to identify potential solutions to traffic congestion issues by improving access to and within the Resort Corridor. During this study, 50+ concepts/ideas have been identified and analyzed. The concept you are referring to was looked at and was removed for further consideration due to meeting with the City of Las Vegas and Councilwoman Tarkanian who made it clear the concept was not supported by them or the neighborhood. At the study's conclusion we will document the concept was looked at as required but will also state that it was not supported by the community and was therefore dropped from further consideration. 

Tony Letizia
Manager South, Program Development
3830 Meadows Lane
Las Vegas, NV 89107
(702) 486-0479 office
(702) 486-0487 fax
This communication, including any attachments, may contain confidential information and is intended only for the individual or entity to whom it is addressed. Any review, dissemination or copying of this communication by anyone other than the intended recipient is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and delete all copies of the original message.

After getting past the unprofessional first sentence, I realized that Tony had inadvertently confirmed for the first time that the project was canceled, and I needed to inform my neighborhood of the good news ASAP! Feeling that his personal criticism was irrelevant compared to the gravity of the subject, I edited out the first sentence and shared the rest of the official NDOT e-mail with my neighbors and the news media.

Being edited inspired the following sophomoric response:
Date: 4/20/2009 3:53:53 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time 

Steve, I notice you removed the first sentence of my response. In the future contact the person your about to write something about to make sure what your saying about them is true and accurate. 

Tony Letizia
Manager South, Program Development
3830 Meadows Lane
Las Vegas, NV 89107
(702) 486-0479 office
(702) 486-0487 fax
This communication, including any attachments, may contain confidential information and is intended only for the individual or entity to whom it is addressed. Any review, dissemination or copying of this communication by anyone other than the intended recipient is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and delete all copies of the original message.

His second e-mail deserved an educational reply:
Date: 4/20/2009 5:06:56 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time 
From: Stevemiller4lv 


The first time residents of Rancho De Monaco heard of this "study" was in a flier we received on Saturday. It would have been appropriate for whomever was responsible for disseminating such highly important information at NDOT or CLV to communicate with persons who live in effected areas. That did not occur. My neighbors and I reacted based on the immediacy of the situation as anyone would if faced with the loss of their home. My reference to you was in the context of a previous experience with a driveway and signalization someone proposed to benefit a strip club on Industrial Road. Based on the similar lack of communication from you and NDOT in that case, it was entirely appropriate for me to reference the subject to give historical perspective. In the future, I would greatly appreciate being kept informed of transportation issues affecting my neighborhood.

This communication, including any attachments, does not contain confidential information, and dissemination or copying of this communication is strictly approved by sender because it was not paid for by taxpayers!

Who is the man who proposed bulldozing the business once owned by my good friend, and six years later the bulldozing of my home? And does his actions have any connection to Barrier being a key source of information in the federal racketeering case that closed the Crazy Horse Too, imprisoned its owner for a year and a day, shut down the goose that laid the golden eggs for local and state politicians, and offended two of his cousin's best friends and clients -- Rizzolo and Goodman? My neighbors also are wondering whether I was personally targeted because I was the journalist who spent the most time covering Rizzolo's sordid story?

I made a media request to NDOT for Tony Letizia's educational background, but received no reply. I want to know who appointed him and how he could be allowed to wield so much power over certain people's lives? So I went to Google, and here's what I found:

Rockslide - Musicians:
Carol~Lyn Liddle – Vocals
Doug Ebeneter – Guitar
Tony Letizia – Drums, Vocals (pictured right rear with earring and beard)
Justin Vogel – Bass, Vocals
Robert "Anthony" Kemper – Keyboard, Vocals

The NDOT junior executive who proposed bulldozing my home and others doubles as a local rock musician. The State Treasurer reports that Letizia earns a salary of $64,000 per year from the taxpayers. His income from Rockslide is unknown.

Tony Letizia's 2003 action caused great stress in the life of Mr. Barrier, and his latest shenanigan terrorized dozens of my neighbors, many who are elderly or infirm. Over 300 Rancho De Monaco and Rancho Sereno homeowners took the time to attend Tuesday's neighborhood meeting to learn if their homes were in jeopardy. Many in attendance called the idea "sinful" or "malicious."

Dozens of homeowners stepped forward to tell NDOT and the meeting's hostess City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian that they had no knowledge of the proposal, and were offended to receive such shocking news so late in the planning process.

The Councilwoman said she opposed the plan and that it was officially dead, inspiring a big round of applause.

Letizia opened his portion of Tuesday's meeting by saying the house-taking plan was shelved last October. However, the road through my neighborhood was listed on last Tuesday's meeting agenda, and NDOT had not erased it from a giant blow up of proposed road construction projects that was displayed at the meeting.

Councilwoman Tarkanian also angrily revealed that she was not invited to two previous NDOT meetings on the road subject held last summer.

On a table near the entrance to the meeting was an NDOT handout titled: NOTICE OF CLARIFICATION - PROPORTED TEDDY DRIVE/RANCHO DRIVE CONNECTION."

Even though the word "purported" was misspelled, the flier clearly criticized me for "disseminating" the clandestine road plan. The flier stated: "The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has been made aware of false information disseminated..." It then showed a portion of my flier and stated: "NDOT is not recommending this concept for further consideration."

Other than the sarcastic e-mail I received on Saturday, this was the first official NDOT notice that the project was killed. Based on the fact that the information I disseminated was not "false information" as late as last Saturday, I felt compelled to interrupt our NDOT host's opening remarks to correct him for dishonestly accusing me of distorting the truth, and making false allegations about him. Following my remarks, additional attendees expressed their outrage at not being informed.

Letizia's boss relieved him of the microphone for the rest of the meeting. The Public Engineer was forced by the audience to repeat several times that the draconian plan was dead, though a number of homeowners complained that its mere mention placed a cloud over our neighborhood's resale home values -- something he could not explain away.

I also let Councilwoman Tarkanian (left), the wife of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, know that she's my hero for saving our homes, though I now regret using her forum to end my presentation by calling Tony Letizia a "jerk."

But the majority of homeowners agreed that he and his department failed in their responsibility to inform the public, and the proposed Eminent Domain taking would only benefit a casino and, if successful, would be the second time in Las Vegas' history that Fifth Amendment property rights were violated to help casinos (see: GEORGE MAGAZINE, March 1998 Special Report:THE 10 MOST CORRUPT CITIES IN AMERICA).

Tony Letizia, was unsuccessful in removing Buffalo Jim's garage to purportedly benefit a politically connected strip club owner. And he was unsuccessful again last Tuesday evening when Councilwoman Tarkanian shut down his latest scheme to bulldoze my home and others.

Before and after the meeting my neighbors asked me to calm down and not take the latest action personally, but I found it very difficult to heed their advice because of the similarities between the two failed bulldozing attempts that seemed to target Barrier and me.

"Steve, It's not about you" they said, but I just couldn't feel comfortable accepting that opinion after writing columns for the past seven years. Many have learned the hard way that in Vegas, truth is stranger than fiction, and others have sadly learned that the Vegas Mafia works in mysterious ways.

I love rock and roll. As a former DJ and rock concert promoter, I wish Tony Letizia success in his music career, but I also wish he would stick to what he does best -- playing drums and doing vocals at gigs -- (the Palace Station perhaps?) -- and never again abuse his appointed government position to threaten businessmen and homeowners in what appears to me to have been two unsuccessful attempts at blatant political pay back or patronage under color of law.

Or better yet, I wish Rockslide would have a big hit record, go on an extended tour, or get a high paying gig at a Strip hotel. Then Tony Letizia could quit his day job so my neighbors and friends can live in peace.

Rock on....

* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas' scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs

Copyright © Steve Miller

email Steve Miller at:
div. of PLR International

Copyright © 1998 - 2009 PLR International