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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:

Rick Rizzolo the "lawyer?"

"Court submissions by pro se litigants' are to be construed liberally
and held to less stringent standards than the submissions of
the lawyers in opposition, being provided wide latitude,
including but not limited to, unfamiliarity with rule
requirements." - Frederick J. Rizzolo, Pro Se

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
July 20, 2009

LAS VEGAS - Convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo on July 8 and 9, supposedly became his own lawyer and filed two last minute court documents he purported to author. Both claimed privilege to "less stringent standards," "wide latitude," and "unfamiliarity with rule requirements," the standards imposed on real attorneys. He wrote both documents, one 3 pages, the other 23, without once using the "F" word!

In 2006, Rizzolo agreed to pay $9 million dollars to a Kansas tourist named Kirk Henry.  Henry had his neck broken for disputing an inflated bar tab at Rizzolo's former topless bar the Crazy Horse Too. Henry was rendered a quadriplegic from his beating. Rizzolo agreed to pay Henry in exchange for prosecutors going easy and letting him off with less than a year in prison. In 2008 after he was released from prison, Rizzolo welched on the deal and hired the attorney-brother of a federal court judge to set up off shore accounts to hide his assets from seizure. However, Rizzolo's ex-wife Lisa was forced to reveal the location of their assets during a lengthy May 12, 2009 deposition.

It's been speculated that Rizzolo's choice of asset protection attorney -- John Dawson -- the brother of U.S. Judge Kent Dawson -- was conveniently designed to discourage Henry's progress and cause the federal court embarrassment if there were future problems in this case. Judge Dawson presided over the trials of fifteen Crazy Horse Too defendants without disclosing that his brother was the attorney for the defendant's former boss, so it may have been anticipated by Rizzolo's camp that other federal judges would not want to open this can of worms, and would rather have Henry's case tried in state courts where Rizzolo has generously donated to local judicial campaigns, than to embarrass Judge Dawson and offend the man who appointed him judge for life. Judge Dawson was appointed by U.S. Senator Harry Reid. Senator Reid's two sons are also employed as attorneys at the same law firm that employs Judge Dawson's brother.

However, the presiding judge in Henry's case, Judge Philip Pro, has so far been completely objective and let the case continue in his court despite Rizzolo's objections and any embarrassment it may create for Judge Dawson or Senator Reid.

A pro se litigant without an attorney can communicate directly with the court through his personally written court filings that automatically become part of the case record and are read by judges prior to hearings. This can happen after the date document filing closes for opposing attorneys.

Henry's attorneys have had moderate success in locating the Rizzolo's hidden assets, and are expected to ask the federal court to seize $9 million dollars worth in the near future. But on July 13, 2009, hours after Rizzolo filed his two pro se Motions, and well after the deadline for opposing attorneys to file their Objections, U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley without explanation denied Motions to compel Rizzolo's camp to turn over financial records and impose sanctions against attorneys representing Rizzolo's wife.

Judge Foley's sudden and unexpected action stopped Henry in his tracks, and will require Henry to expend additional legal fees and wait additional months to correct.

Philip Pro who was appointed United States District Judge for the District of Nevada by President Reagan in 1987 and has served as Chief Judge for the District since 2002, according to the Federal Court website

George Foley was appointed in 2005. He is merely the referral judge in this case, and Judge Pro has overruled him once before in a ruling Foley made that favored Rizzolo. The person who appointed Foley as Magistrate is not identified.

Not playing by the rules is one of Rick Rizzolo's talents. When he owned the now closed Crazy Horse Too, Rizzolo made his fortune by allowing his employees to beat, drug, and rob patrons. This happened until Henry sued Rizzolo and brought national attention to the criminal activities at the Crazy Horse Too. After local authorities turned their backs, the FBI stepped in and prosecuted Rizzolo and fifteen of his employees. On June 30, 2007, the City of Las Vegas seized the club's liquor license. On August  29, 2007, U.S. Federal Marshals took possession of the mob owned business and property. The place has been dark ever since.

After failing to get justice in the District Court of Judge Jackie Glass, a judge who is known to do favors for the Rizzolo family, Kirk Henry went to U.S. Federal Court to try to claim his missing settlement. In the meantime, Rizzolo resumed his extravagant lifestyle of squandering tens of thousands in cash per night in local clubs and casinos.

Now, if Judge Pro were to unlikely agree with Rizzolo's latest "Pro Se" Motions and dismiss Henry's complaint, the case will go back to Rizzolo's cronies on the Nevada Supreme Court and Clark County District Court.

Then based on Rizzolo's example, racketeers throughout the nation may begin scrambling to become their own pro se lawyers to avoid the professional standards required of licensed attorneys, and be able to stall cases indefinitely and cost opponents additional legal fees like Rizzolo seems intent on doing to Henry.

I'm sure there are many unscrupulous attorneys eager to take cash to secretly author their criminal client's supposed pro se documents like the example below.


Liberally citing case law on a Word Perfect-type legal document with his name printed vertically in the left margin just like a real lawyer, Rizzolo thrust upon the court the task of determining whether he's the actual author, or are there phantom lawyers doing his bidding for cash payments?

For years Rizzolo has claimed poverty in order to avoid paying Henry, and last year said he couldn't afford an attorney.

Based on his amazing transformation from thug to jurist, the federal court will soon have to determine if "Frederick J. Rizzolo, Pro Se" has the hidden gift of being able to write Motions like a seasoned attorney, and the ability to research case law so effectively as to inspire the respect of two federal court judges?

Or did he somehow find enough funds in a secret Strip casino cage safe deposit box to continue paying his legal team at Patti & Sgro to insult the court's intelligence by pretending to be him (without using the "F" word in every sentence)?

No matter how he got this on, I can't believe any judge would believe a guy like Rick Rizzolo could actually author dozens of pages in perfect legalize.

(Rick Rizzolo sits stoically during his sentencing, LV Review-Journal photo by Clint Karlsen)

Jul. 14, 2009
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Hunt for Rizzolo assets stalls
Judge refuses to order delivery of financial records

Attorneys on a treasure hunt for former strip club owner Rick Rizzolo's money hit a wall Monday when a federal judge denied their motion to compel Rizzolo's camp to turn over financial records and impose sanctions against attorneys representing Rizzolo's wife. 

Henry's attorneys expressed frustration that much of the divorce paperwork filed by the Patti & Sgro law firm has disappeared. Representatives of the law office, which handled the divorce for both Rizzolos, have said paperwork was destroyed in a flood. 

Foley gave Bailus two weeks to attempt to collect the records. He also directed DeGree to subpoena the records himself from John Dawson, an attorney with Lionel Sawyer & Collins and the brother of U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson.

When Judge Foley first tried to remand the Henry case back to state court and stop the ongoing Discovery process, Judge Pro wisely issued the following ORDER:

Even after Judge Pro overruled Magistrate Foley's first ORDER, Rizzolo remained busy filing his pro se Motions.

In the 23 page Motion he purportedly authored on June 7, Rizzolo again listed his name followed by the words "Pro Se," address, phone and fax number vertically in the left margin like a real attorney. In the document he challenged Judge Pro's ruling that his case should stay in federal court instead of being tried in state courts where Rizzolo has friends including Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta.

Below are excerpts from the Motion Rick Rizzolo purportedly authored:
Case 2:08-cv-00635-PMP-GWF Document 139 Filed 07/09/2009 Page 1 of 23

Defendants, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, respectfully request this Court to enter an Order for summary judgment in favor of the Defendants and against the Plaintiffs, as there exists no genuine issue of material fact and the Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of the applicable law on theory of claim preclusion, judicial estoppel and waiver.

In the second alternative, Defendants, pursuant to Nevada Rule of Appellate Procedure 5, respectfully request this Court to enter an Order to certify questions of law to the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada.

Defendants further request pursuant to FeII.R.Civ.P. Rule 26(c) that this Court enter an Order to stay the discovery orders and discovery pending decision on the dispositive motions and alternative motion to certify questions of law to the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada.

The Decree of Divorce is undisturbed as a final state court order. Because the Plaintiffs are seeking relief affecting the distribution of community property, only the original state court and department that issued the Decree of Divorce has subject matter jurisdiction to grant relief related to setting aside or modification of its provisions. 

DATED this 7th day of July, 2009.
RICK RIZZOLO , a individual; and THE
Pro Se
1760 Amarone Way
Las Vegas, Nevada 89012

(Emphasis in bold added by Steve Miller)

Rizzolo argued that his 2005 divorce ruling by Family Court Judge Steve Jones, and a civil court ruling in his favor by District Court Judge Jackie Glass should take precedence over the U.S. Federal Court case now in progress -- in other words, Judge Pro is overstepping his bounds.

Nonetheless, Rizzolo's two pro se Motions are somehow being taken seriously, and Judge Pro is expected to rule on their merits within the next two months.

Rizzolo's state court judges: (L to R) Justice Nancy Siatta, Judge Steve Jones, and Judge Jackie Glass

Meanwhile, doesn't anyone realize that quadriplegics have a shortened life span? Or is that the plan -- to wear out Mr. Henry's resolve, or stall this case until his passing when his wife and children are so saddled with unpaid medical bills that they either give up, or accept a pittance from the criminal family who caused them such pain and grief?

Hopefully, Judge Philip Pro will once again see through the subterfuge and keep this case on track before Lisa Rizzolo can further hide her and her husband's ill-gotten assets, and make a mockery of our Federal Court system.

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