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: http://www.SteveMiller4LasVegas.com
Crazy Horse Too loses liquor license,
but will it be for long?
VEGAS by Steve Miller
July 2, 2007
photo by Mike Christ
midnight Saturday June 30, 2007 - A used hypodermic needle lying in an
empty parking lot is all that remains of the once booming Crazy Horse
AmericanMafia.com photographer Mike Christ and I arrived early to find
two TV news crews and Review-Journal
City Hall reporter Dave Schwartz with his photographer milling around
the front of Buffalo Jim Barrier's auto garage waiting for the moment
that marked the historical end of a sad and bloody saga that endured
from the late 1970s until last Saturday night.
After the last intoxicated patron staggered to his car parked under the
Sahara overpass, the forlorn building that once housed the wildly
popular strip joint echoed of better times, but no one of any
significance remained inside although the lights stayed on and they can
still pour non-alcoholic drinks.
minute after midnight, a
half dozen city business license officials led by City Attorney Brad
Jerbic entered the building and unceremoniously removed the liquor
club owner Rick
Rizzolo sat in a cell at the Los Angeles Metropolitan
Earlier in the week, FBI Special Agents reportedly seized all remaining
financial records from the offices of the straw man operator Mike
Signorelli. They did this after Rizzolo's next door neighbor discovered
him last winter secretly shredding 25 years worth of documents he
stored in a warehouse behind the club.
Racketeering and tax evasion was all Rizzolo was convicted of, but
hundreds of people experienced much worse fates at the hands of his
Last night when we left the property, only a bouncer, several
strippers, and a parking attendant remained of Rizzolo's infamous crew,
a crew including bullies who took pleasure beating patrons who balked
at paying inflated credit card bills.
The back parking lot where I almost stepped on two discarded needles is
of special significance. It was the 1985 scene of Rizzolo beating Rick
Sandlin almost to death with a baseball bat. Sandlin died three years
later of his injuries but Rizzolo got off with no jail time after plea
bargaining to a gross misdemeanor thanks to the help of his
then-attorney Oscar Goodman.
The same back parking lot was the 1995 scene of the beating death of
Scott David Fau, a long haul trucker who was in the wrong place at the
wrong time. A giant man who bouncers decided to challenge to a fist
fight just for sport. Witnesses report that a club employee hit Fau and
he began defending himself. Then several other bouncers jumped in and
Fau was reportedly kicked to death not far from where I found the
needles. No one was prosecuted and judge Nancy Saitta helped Rizzolo
defeat a civil wrongful death lawsuit brought by Fau's widow and
These crimes along with a 2001 beating that
tourist Kirk Henry a quadriplegic after he disputed an $88 bar tab,
coupled with the lack of prosecution by Clark County District Attorneys
for any crimes committed at the Crazy Horse triggered a federal
investigation that took over 10 years to complete.
Many other public officials were influenced to keep the Crazy Horse in
business. Former District Attorney Rex Bell refused to prosecute
Rizzolo for Sandlin's death. Current D.A. David Roger refused to
prosecute bouncer Bobby DiApice for crippling Henry. A number of high
level LV Metro Police officers have kept incident reports from being
filed. And last week, Judge Jackie Glass, the wife of City Councilman
Steve Wolfson, refused to allow attorneys for Kirk Henry to examine
Rizzolo's personal financial records.
Elected officials including former City Councilman Michael McDonald,
former Mayor Jan Jones, and present Mayor Oscar Goodman have been
accused of helping Rizzolo along with Councilman Wolfson. Goodman
refused to challenge Rizzolo's liquor license even after news reports
of serious crimes were broadcast on local and national TV.
McDonald admitted to receiving $5,000 per month from Rizzolo in
"consulting fees" while he did him favors while serving on the Council.
Jones has a home in Newport Beach near Rizzolo and did him favors while
serving as Mayor. Goodman's present law firm represents Rizzolo and
several of his mob associates, and Goodman also has a home in Newport
Beach and is often seen mixing with Rizzolo and his associates.
Early Saturday evening I appeared on local TV News. Asked my opinion of
what was about to happen, I explained that the extensions of time the
Crazy Horse was gifted in order to be operated by a straw man
exemplified the most blatant example of political favoritism ever
experienced in Las Vegas since "Operation
G-Sting" that sent four Clark County Commissioners to prison. That
Rizzolo still controlled the bar through
his juice with the city government, and never had any intention of
selling or honoring his Federal plea agreement.
I also told Ch. 3 reporter Rob McMillan that I didn't think Saturday
night would mark the end of this story of political corruption -- that
the Mafia does not go away quietly and politicians and crooked cops
will continue to lust for the free flowing cash and sexual favors. And
that I would not be surprised if Rizzolo's former attorney who is now
our Mayor, was about to grant a temporary liquor license to another mob
straw man waiting in the wings -- someone else with direct ties to
Rizzolo and organized crime.
Goodman has never stopped defending criminals. He even proposes opening
a "Mob Museum" downtown to honor his former (and present) clients.
City officials enter bar to remove liquor license - 12:01 AM July 1, 2007
photo by Mike Christ)
Most of the people present in the parking lot Sunday morning also
expressed uncertainty about the future of the Crazy Horse Too based on
the blatant actions of Goodman and his subservient Council.
The Crazy Horse had been closed before only to open six weeks later
with a mob straw man sleeping in Rizzolo's private office.
During the year since Rizzolo was convicted and agreed to sell the
lucrative club as part of the federal plea bargain that kept him from
serving an expected 20 year term, he never once tried to market the
business or real estate. It was alleged he simply wanted to keep the
skim going as long as possible.
The one and only qualified buyer to ever make an offer on the Crazy
Horse ($35 million) was San Francisco and Las Vegas real estate
developer Luke Brugnara. He has done in excess of $700 million in real
estate transactions over the past 15 years according to Colliers
International, the largest real estate firm in the world. However he
was summarily dismissed by Rizzolo's lawyer probably because Brugnara's
father was a peace officer for 40 years, his uncle was once San
Francisco's police chief, and his brother and sister in law are U.S.
Brugnara's dismissal substantiates the rumor that the mob has no
intention of letting go of this property and will only deal with
persons they can control. Brugnara has a reputation of being fiercely
independent and hard to get along with -- definitely not straw man
Brugnara believes Rizzolo used his verified offer of $35 million to con
the federal government into thinking the property was worth much more,
and to let Rizzolo keep control until a higher verified offer was
received. Of course, none followed.
A recent Review-Journal
article quotes Brugnara evaluating the Crazy Horse property without a
liquor license at around $8 million. A well known local strip club
operator agrees and says its worth no more than $10 million in its
present condition. If sold for current fair market value, the
government must go after Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's personal assets to
cover deficits still owed to Kirk Henry, the IRS, and others. The
Rizzolo's conveniently divorced just weeks before Rick was indicted.
In the meantime, a source in the U.S. Attorney's Office tells INSIDE
VEGAS that an Orange County, California real estate investment firm
with Newport Beach and Chicago ties is rumored to be purchasing the
Crazy Horse for an unexplained $29 million! The firm does business
exclusively in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Southern California.
Directors of the company live in Newport and are known to hang out with
Rizzolo's cronies. Rizzolo
and a number of his associates maintain second homes in posh Newport
Beach near the principals of the real estate investment firm.
Rizzolo's second base of operation is Newport Beach, and he once had
interest in the Chicago Crazy Horse Too, the Newport Beach/Chicago
connection with the real estate investment firm has piqued the interest
investigators following this case, especially
since his building and property is worth only one third of what is
purportedly being offered.
Its speculated that Rizzolo, et. al. are investors in the mysterious
real estate company and are using them to buy back their strip club.
To prove $29 million is an unreasonable offer, another strip bar --
Jaguars -- located in a brand new 25,000 square foot building on 5.5
acres fronting Desert Inn Road sold last year for $21 million, $8
million less than what the Newport Beach group is offering for a broken
down converted warehouse on 2.3 Industrial Road acres, a
property that will soon have a 23 foot deep cut of its' frontage taken
by eminent domain for a road widening, and is height restricted because
of its' proximity to the Sahara overpass and railroad tracks.
If this information is correct, the City Council under pressure from
the Mayor may try to pull an end run on Federal Court Chief Judge
Philip M. Pro who ruled Rizzolo could not sell his club to anyone with
mob ties, and quickly license a new buyer without requiring him to go
through the normally required six month LV Metro Police suitability
Every liquor license applicant in Las Vegas' history has had to wait at
least six months while being investigated, unless they are applying to
operate the Crazy Horse Too!
If someone is fast tracked though the licensing process at the July 11
Council meeting, the Federal Court will have to immediately intervene
and supersede the bogus actions of the Council to prevent a reopening under
suspicious management. Otherwise the blood soaked Crazy Horse Too is
history and rightfully should end up on the auction block as any other
crook's property would under the same set of circumstances.
DON'T MESS WITH THE BUFFALO!
Steve Miller and
Buffalo Jim Barrier
(AmericanMafia.com photo by Mike Christ)
Always the showman, Rick Rizzolo's next door neighbor former pro
wrestler-turned-garage owner Buffalo Jim Barrier on Sunday rolled out
his giant smoke belching Buffalo to diss the men who killed the goose
that laid the golden eggs.
it were not for Barrier's fearlessness after he began being harassed by
Crazy Horse goons in the late 1990s when Rizzolo revealed plans for the
expansion of his topless bar into Barrier's leased space, there would
probably be a grandiose new strip club occupying the spot where
Barrier's garage has sat since 1974.
Rizzolo's best efforts, Barrier knew his lease was solid and he could
not duplicate the good location or the forty-three cents per square
foot he pays for rent. So he held his ground against overwhelming odds
and became a local folk hero in the process being named "Las Vegas Most
Colorful Character" by the Review-Journal,
and called upon to appear in Toyota TV commercials and in local parades.
Defunct plans for new strip club
At the outset of his troubles, had Rizzolo offered to buy
out the remaining 9 years of his lease, Barrier said he would have
gladly relocated his garage. But Rizzolo never offered Barrier one
cent, instead trying to scare him or harass him into moving for free as
did other adjacent tenants of the strip center after receiving threats.
The harassment continued and in 2002 Barrier had had enough and filed a
lawsuit. In the meantime he took photographs of numerous incidents of
violence -- several that were used on NBC News. On May 31, 2007,
District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez placed a $1 million dollar lien
on the Crazy Horse property to secure a judgment in the likely event
Barrier wins at his jury trial after Rizzolo is released from prison in
Since Rizzolo went off to prison in May, the acts of harassment
including illegal towing, keying paint, or slashing the tires of
Barrier's customer's cars has ceased.
Barrier said he was forced to turn his office into a news bureau
constantly making 911 calls to report violent incidents while alerting
the press when such acts occurred.
He said he made the Crazy Horse famous, but for all the wrong reasons.
"These guys are not
smart enough to realize they could have solved their current problems
long ago by acting like men," Barrier said. "Instead they acted like
punks and pissed off an honest working man like me. That was their
biggest mistake and they ruined their gold mine because they wanted to
be Tony Soprano instead of legitimate business men. Now the bad guys
got what they deserve though I feel sorry for the innocent girls and
guys who lost their jobs."
says that after hundreds of 911 calls to report beatings and robberies
involving bar employees, no Crazy Horse Too employee was ever arrested.
Instead, responding officers -- after
giving bouncers high five's -- would
usually arrest the bar patrons who asked to file complaints. He reports
that many of the same officers were later seen in the club during their
off hours receiving free drinks and lap dances.
Now it's quiet under the Sahara overpass with the exception of
occasional drivers honking their horns and flashing victory signs as
they drive by Barrier's legendary garage,
while Rizzolo's pathetic juice bar
sits empty with a hand made sign on the front door reading, "We are
Miller is currently writing a book about the mob's battle to keep the
Crazy Horse Too open.
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