Clark County DA David Roger
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
June 7, 2010
LAS VEGAS - It's 108 degrees on the Las
Vegas Strip, and a half dozen men and one pregnant woman stand in a line
in front of the Holiday Casino handing out fliers written in a language
they probably cannot read or understand.
The group wear orange T-shirts with the
words "GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS" printed on the front and back. The fliers they
shove at passersby have a photo of a scantily clad female with a phone
number printed underneath. The sidewalk and gutter nearby are littered
with discarded fliers blowing in the hot desert wind.
As the handbillers indiscriminately shove
their fliers at men, women, and sometimes couples with children, several
mobil billboards slowly pass by on the four lane boulevard. Their message
boldly states "Hot Babes Direct To You 24 Hours, 7 Days. Girls That Want
To Meet You."
This goes on each day and night in the
new Las Vegas where our slogan is "What Happens Here, Stays Here,"
mob museums are slated to open in 2011. Meanwhile, the June 3, 2010
Las Vegas Review-Journal headline sadly proclaimed; "Officials:
Businesses not sold on Nevada," this, while our local unemployment
hovers around 14.2%.
RJ Capitol Bureau reporter Ed Vogel
wrote; "Too many business owners think about Nevada only as a place to
gamble, not as a place where they could relocate their businesses, two
economic development officials told legislators Wednesday."
Las Vegas SUN
photo by Leila Navidi from the story: "County
takes aim, again, at Strip handbillers"
No wonder businesses are not sold on Nevada,
and our unemployment rate is the second highest in the nation! Parts
of the Strip are beginning to resemble Avenida
Revolución in Tijuana!
The First Amendment of the United States
Constitution is quite clear when it comes to the kind of messages that
can be disseminated on public sidewalks and streets.
Our right to use public sidewalks to disseminate
religious or political information is sacrosanct, as long as we do not
litter, or cause obstruction to passersby.
What is going on currently in our town
is far from protected speech and deserves to be tested in our state's and
nation's highest courts, but the one person who can stop this scourge overnight
has consistently turned his back -- Clark County District Attorney David
Several attempts have been made by Las
Vegas Metropolitan Police to arrest the mostly illegal alien handbillers
for various crimes including obstructing pedestrian traffic and littering,
but the LVMPD Requests for Prosecution never make it past Roger's desk.
The DA steadfastly proclaims that the handbillers are protected by the
First Amendment. He's so wrong! And his insistence keeps this case from
being properly tested in Federal Court.
According to Wikipedia:
speech is speech done on behalf of a company or individual for the purpose
of making a profit. Unlike political speech, the
Supreme Court does not afford commercial speech full protection under the
First Amendment. To effectively distinguish
commercial speech from other types of speech for purposes of litigation,
the Supreme Court uses a list of four indicia:
do no more than propose a commercial transaction.
may be characterized as advertisements.
reference a specific product.
is economically motivated to distribute the speech.
The Court first
proposed a limitation on the First Amendment protections of commercial
speech in Valentine v. Chrestensen, 316 U.S. 52 (1942), when it upheld
a Florida ordinance forbidding the "distribution in the streets of commercial
and business advertising matter." Writing for a unanimous court, Justice
has unequivocally held that streets are proper places for the exercise
of the freedom of communicating information and disseminating opinion and
that, though the states and municipalities
may appropriately regulate the privilege in the public interest,
they may not unduly burden or proscribe its employment in their public
thoroughfares. We equally clear that the
Constitution imposes no such restraint on government as respects purely
In 1987, I was elected to the Las Vegas
City Council. A main part of my political platform was a promise
to rid Downtown of sidewalk solicitors.
In those days, tourists could not walk
one block on historic Fremont Street without having someone yell at them
about offers of free gifts for attending time share presentations. Several
steps later, someone would shove a handbill into the tourist's hands, most
of which promptly ended up on the sidewalk or in the gutter. Merchants
had had enough, and filed complaints with the City Attorney. However, no
action was taken until my election.
Within a week of being being sworn in,
I didn't ask, I ordered the City Attorney to begin prosecuting the
solicitors for disturbing the peace, littering, and any other laws he could
find to rid Downtown of this blight. I instructed him to take the matter
all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if need be, because such commercialism
is not protected speech. I didn't hold back the fact that if he refused,
I would call a press conference and expose him in the court of public opinion.
With the City Attorney's full cooperation,
the solicitors disappeared from Fremont Street within days of the first
second task was to rid Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip)
of the escort service news racks.
Since they contained purely commercial
material, that was an easy task until my counterparts on the Clark County
Commission protested our efforts within their jurisdiction. Then-County
Commissioner Paul Christensen told reporters that I was acting outside
my authority, and that the news racks contained protected speech. (Most
of the Strip is located in un-incorporated Clark County outside the Las
Vegas city limits.)
Christensen also called me a hypocrite
because my family owns the land under Club Paradise, a local gentleman's
club that has nothing to do with escort services, Strip news racks, or
I called Christensen's bluff by organizing
a citizen protest to empty the Strip news racks each evening and deposit
their contents at the Republic Services disposal site. We did so
in a parade of pick up trucks manned with citizens who would open the unlatched
doors of the dilapidated racks and confiscate all the free fliers. Of course
the news media covered every evening's effort, and our volunteer forces
were bolstered by the coverage.
But what concerned me most was how county
officials responded to city residents taking charge of their problem. Many
came to the defense of the escort services by saying city residents had
no right to intervene in county business.
Based on those words, we multiplied our
efforts and the war of words and interpretation of the First Amendment
went on for over four weeks. Only after we began noticing a fleet of white
panel trucks following our citizen brigade with employees of the escort
services dutifully refilling the emptied racks, did we begin to lose our
Our effort ignited a firestorm of support,
and demands were made upon then-Clark County District Attorney Rex Bell
to follow the lead of the Las Vegas City Attorney and rid the Strip of
the non-First Amendment protected material and handbillers.
Rex Bell refused, and our effort on the
Strip finally fizzled as the heat of the summer engulfed the town. However,
on the other side of Sahara Ave. where the city limits begin, the problem
had been completely eradicated and stayed that way until I left office
in 1991; one of the reasons I was voted "Most
Effective Public Official in Las Vegas" at the end of my term.
Something highly suspicious happened right
in the middle of my clean up effort, something that may currently be being
replicated in Clark County.
I received a call from the late Ralph Petillo,
the then-publisher of Panorama Magazine, a weekly newspaper that
flourished with ads for escort services.
Petillo invited me to visit him and a man
Washington. Washington was infamous for being the owner of at least
fifty local escort services, and was later convicted of pandering.
I informed Petillo that I did not want
to meet such a person. Petillo then told me that Washington had $10,000
cash that he wanted to give me, and more would follow if I stopped harassing
his businesses. I refused the offer.
That said, today I believe the same type
of bribery is rampant within the Clark County Government Center -- bribery
intended to lure certain weak officials into turning their backs at what
could be an easily remedied problem.
Littering is illegal. So is the harassment
of tourists by persons of questionable legal status in our country.
With the exception of the recent noble
efforts of County
Commissioner Steve Sysolak, our town has returned to square one of
this problem. And, no one has yet mentioned that many of the "escorts"
reportedly practice unprotected sex (allegedly for an extra fee), and may
be spreading sexually transmitted disease and HIV to our tourists. I wish
him luck, but without any back up from the District Attorney, his chances
of success are nil.
Where is DA David Roger at a time like
this when we really need his help? Is he having lunch each week with Michael
But this is not the only problem we've
experienced over the years with our local DA's.
In 2002, Outgoing DA Stewart Bell (no relation
to Rex Bell) raised eyebrows when he refused to prosecute several of racketeer
Rick Rizzolo's employees including those involved in the 1995 beating death
David Fau. On May 24, 2001, police submitted a request for prosecution
of four of Rizzolo's Crazy Horse Too topless bar employees charged
with robbery, battery and conspiracy to commit robbery and coercion in
the case of Kenneth Kirkpatrick.
Police submitted the case to prosecutors
who obtained warrants for four Crazy Horse Too employees. Joseph Melfi,
Peter Pachio, Phillip Salemi and Mark Tenzer were charged with robbery,
battery and conspiracy to commit robbery and coercion on Kirkpatrick.
Stewart Bell took no action.
On October 4, 2001, LV Metro asked the
DA to prosecute a Crazy Horse Too manager for the Sept. 20, 2001 attempted
murder of Kansas tourist Kirk
Detectives spent about two hours searching
the Industrial Road bar following Henry's beating and left with credit
card receipts, personnel information and a few security camera videotapes,
said Lt. John Alamshaw of Metro's robbery unit. Even after Metro conducted
a raid and gathered incriminating evidence, Stewart Bell did nothing. At
the time he was successfully running for a seat on the district court bench.
In November 2002, immediately after the
election but before the swearing in, I interviewed outgoing DA Stewart
Bell on a local TV talk show I was guest hosting. I asked him what happened
to the Fau and Henry cases? He responded saying, "There is probable cause
to prosecute, but I will let my successor make that decision."
Prior to his election in 2003, David Roger
was a Deputy District Attorney. He prosecuted the accused killers of casino
titan Ted Binion. After his election as DA, Roger's convictions were overturned
by the Nevada Supreme Court. But the initial victory catapulted Roger into
the DA's office.
This is the same David Roger who granted
immunity to confessed heroin dealer Peter Sheridan in trade for testifying
for the prosecution in the Binion case. Sheridan admitted in open court
to selling black tar heroin to Binion, but because David Roger intensely
wanted to win the trial at any cost -- then catapult the victory into a
successful run for DA -- he let one of our town's biggest slime balls walk
out of the courtroom a free man after Sheridan bragged to the jury that
he sold Ted Binion a dozen balloons of heroin the night before he died.
During his 2002 District Attorney campaign,
Roger gladly accepted the donation of a campaign headquarters from local
mob lawyers Dean Patti and Tony Sgro, along with the fund raising efforts
of their best client Rick Rizzolo.
After being sworn in, David Roger soon
dropped all actions involving Rizzolo including the Henry and Kirkpatrick
cases, a lack of response that troubled dedicated street cops like Lt.
In 2002, Roger
accepted $50,000 for his political campaign raised by Rick Rizzolo,
this while Metro Police had the Henry and Kirkpatrick cases waiting on
the outgoing DA's desk pending prosecution.
Based on Rogerís obvious malfeasance, the
federal government in 2003 was forced to take over the cases and conduct
the investigations and prosecutions that convicted Rick Rizzolo and 16
Crazy Horse Too employees, along with the seizing of the former topless
bar and its real estate.
On June 22, 2007, a local businessman was
severely beaten inside Treasures Gentleman's Club.
Following receipt of an 83 page Las Vegas
Metropolitan Police Department DECLARATION OF WARRANT/SUMMONS regarding
of Michael Grasso, DA Roger continued his pattern when crimes involve
politically connected strip clubs like Treasures, or adult businesses including
parlor brothels and escort
services. Roger closed the Grasso case even though Grasso's assailants
were professional kick boxers capable of causing fatal injuries.
On September 13, 2008, Ralph
Rizzolo, brother of Rick Rizzolo, allegedly tried to commit suicide
by crashing a Mercedes at high speed into the shuttered Crazy Horse Too
building. At the time, the building was under forfeiture by the United
States Marshal's Service, and Rizzolo did substantial damage that had to
be repaired at taxpayer's expense. Even though Ralph Rizzolo was found
to be driving under the influence, and damaged public property, David Roger
did not prosecute.
In January 2009, police requested that
Roger vigorously prosecute Rick Rizzolo's son Dominic
Rizzolo for stabbing a man during an extortion attempt. Again, DA Roger
refused, and Dominic got off with probation.
In the case of Michael Galardi, the former
owner of several strip clubs that donated to Roger's campaigns, the Las
Vegas Review-Journal reported that Galardi
accused Roger of accepting $20,000 in unreported cash, though Roger
steadfastly denied the accusation. After turning government witness, Galardi
was convicted for bribing public officials and served a reduced sentence.
His testimony in court was never disputed.
Clark County District Attorney David Roger
obviously cares more about where his next political campaign contribution
will come from than for the safety and well being of the public he was
elected to serve.
And people wonder why businesses are not
sold on Nevada?