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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:

Like Swatting a Fly in the Middle of a Buffalo Stampede
After losing costly appeal, Rizzolo finally pays $238 judgment
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 24, 2004

"Its like he's trying to swat a pesky fly with a sledge hammer while a herd of buffalos are charging at him. He's so preoccupied trying to get the fly that he doesn't feel the earth trembling under his feet." -- Buffalo Jim Barrier
         Dapper Rick Rizzolo                               Buffalo Jim Barrier (Las Vegas Review Journal photos)

LAS VEGAS - Embattled Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo employed the prestigious law firm of Patti and Sgro to fight a multi-hundred-dollar small claims lawsuit brought by his tenant. In the meantime he's facing federal indictments for racketeering. The attorney's fees to unsuccessfully fight the $238 small claim are estimated to have exceeded $5,000!

A man such as Rick Rizzolo should have much more important things on his mind, like fighting the feds, and possibly picking up a competitor's palace for dimes on the dollar with help from city hall. But instead he seems preoccupied with a funky garage and its colorful owner.

To make a long story short, on April 16, 2004, Clark County District Court Senior Judge Stephen Huffaker ordered Rizzolo to pay his next door neighbor, Buffalo Jim Barrier, $238 plus court costs for illegally towing a 1947 restored car owned by one of Barrier's auto garage customers. Rizzolo's lawyers appealed the decision.

On Monday, May 17, Clark County Justice Court Judge Ann Zimmerman upheld the earlier judgment and ordered Rizzolo to stop towing cars owned by Barrier's customers.

Barrier, who takes pride in his American Indian heritage, claims his new landlord is harassing him so he'll move out to make way for a new building. Barrier has been at the same address since 1976, long before the Crazy Horse opened. The former pro wrestler won't budge and Rizzolo refuses to buy him out. Meanwhile, new clubs are opening throughout the city.

    From Crazy Horse website, 2001

Following the second small claims verdict, Barrier sent Rizzolo a Ten Day Notice stating that if the multi-hundred-dollar judgment was not paid by May 28, he would place a lien on his Canyon Gate estate. The judgment was paid in cash three days later.

On Monday, Barrier filed another small claim against Rizzolo for $3,950, this time for allegedly twice tampering with the water lines on his rooftop evaporative coolers. The problem occurred three times in the past two years on the hottest days, and each time Barrier had to close his business until the lines could be replaced. Rizzolo is insured for such vandalism but has refused to pay for repairs or make a claim on his policy. This inspired Barrier to install cameras on his roof and in his business along with a high tech burglar alarm system..

Crimped water line, 4/14/04

The vandalism and illegal towing began in 2002 after Rizzolo bought the 2.3 acre industrial center for $5.5 million. Shortly thereafter, Patti and Sgro filed an action to evict Barrier on behalf of their client. The court ruled in the garage owner's favor.

When the problems escalated, attorney Gus Flangas on behalf of Barrier sued Rizzolo in District Court for harassment. Rizzolo countered by suing Barrier for defamation of character and slander.*

The combined trial was taken off District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti's calendar on December 17, 2003 when US District Judge Philip Pro put a stay on discovery of records from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department regarding criminal activities at the Crazy Horse Too. The stay is still in effect pending federal indictments.

But Rizzolo may not have much longer to worry about his next door nemesis. Indictments are expected later this summer, in the meantime there are rumors he may be able to relocate his bar and end what's become the Vegas version of the "Battle of Little Big Horn" before the indictments are handed down.

Treasures, a nearby gentleman's club, opened in 2003 after Rizzolo tried to use his political connections to squelch its liquor license. Treasures was built at the cost of more than $30 million and makes the aging Crazy Horse look like an old nag in comparison. Unfortunately, its owners are not as politically connected as Mr. Rizzolo, and are in trouble with the city attorney for four charges of soliciting prostitution and more than a dozen dance-code citations.

The city attorney works at the pleasure of the current mayor who brags about being in control of city hall. On April 2, Goodman startled local government observers by saying: "I want to make it very, very clear that as the mayor of the city of Las Vegas, I'm going to run the city the way I want to run the city!" This in spite of the fact that Las Vegas has a city manager form of government.
Ali Davari, left, and Hassan Davari, right,                                     Treasures (The Prize?)
leave Las Vegas City Hall on March 17
after the City Council delayed a decision
on a permanent liquor license for their
strip club, Treasures.
(LV Review Journal photo by Jeff Scheid)

Keep in mind that the Crazy Horse Too has been subject of over 737 police responses including 9 for assaults and 6 for robberies involving bar employees over a two-year-period, but the mayor and city attorney can find no fault with this privileged licensed business. Only Treasures has aroused the city's ire for four charges of soliciting prostitution and dance-code citations. For this reason, the owners of Treasures accused the city this week of singling out their business.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman vigorously objected to the original licensing of Treasures and its owners Ali and Hassan Davari. He placed unprecedented conditions on a temporary liquor license. In the meantime, violence and other illegal acts continued unabated at the Crazy Horse Too just down the street.

Then Goodman suddenly became "Silent Sam" when his son Ross Goodman starting representing the Davari brothers against the city. This created a conflict of interest that stopped the mayor from speaking about or voting on the Davari's permanent license. For this reason, I have a sneaking hunch that something is secretly happening behind the scenes at city hall, something designed to persuade the Davaris to liquidate their property.

On January 29 2004, Goodman stated, "If anybody tells me I can't help my son, who I love, they can drop dead." Five weeks later, Goodman took an arrow for his son when he was ruled in violation of the state ethics law that bars public officials from securing "unwarranted privileges" for their family.

Goodman is a former mob attorney who unabashedly maintains ties with former criminal defense clients connected to Rizzolo. Goodman also has two fledgling-attorney sons who he is trying to help. I'm probably wrong, but being that Ross is new to the lawyer game, he could lose a first case or two without suffering permanent career damage and still come out on top with a little more help from his Pop.

I've never trusted a former mob lawyer who represented killers calling them misunderstood, innocent businessmen, then after getting elected sees nothing wrong with hosting mobsters at his personal residence and at city hall, With this in mind, I can't help but smell something fishy in the Sin City air right about now.

Goodman and Tony Spilotro

In my mind, the Davaris may have thought it wise to hire the mayor's son to represent them if city officials try to speed up their prosecution to bolster the city's case for revoking their liquor license. I'm also imagining it could be possible they hired local lawyers with hidden agendas and loyalties, but I've always had an overactive imagination.

I still can't help imagining that if Rizzolo et al, were to somehow get the Treasures building for dimes on the dollar, a huge secret bonus could go to somebody for purposely blowing the case. Furthermore, it will be fascinating to see who the municipal judge will be that might rule against the Davaris, and if he or she took campaign money from Rizzolo? The bar owner is famous after all for donating huge amounts to the political campaigns of municipal judges.

Two thing's are for sure if my imaginings are accurate. If Rick Rizzolo et al, get the Treasures building for dimes on the dollar; he'll have room to build his own on-site trauma center, and Buffalo Jim Barrier will have peace on the reservation until his garage lease expires in 2009.

But of course, I'm just dreaming -- aren't I? Vegas is much too straight-arrow a place for such a thing to happen...

Victims of the Crazy Horse Too:

Scott David Fau             Paul Russo                           Jermaine Simieou                            Kirk Henry                       Eben Kostbar
(Morgue photo)                                                        (Jim Barrier photo)

* The author is a a consultant in a civil lawsuit against Frederick Rizzolo

* 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

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