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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:

Rick Rizzolo Banned From Casinos
"You shall not enter, frequent, or be involved with any legal
or illegal gambling establishment or activity, except for the
purpose of employment as approved and directed by the
probation officer." - United States Judge Philip Pro

      Rizzolo leaving court with attorneys Dominic Gentile and Margaret Lambrose
      after being convicted of parole violations resulting in nine additional months in
      federal prison, and a two year extension of his supervised release
                                                ( photo by Mike Christ)

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
July 25, 2011

LAS VEGAS - To a degenerate gambler, a fate worse than jail was rendered last Wednesday in Las Vegas Federal Court.

Convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo was ordered to stay out of casinos for the next three years after being sentenced to an additional nine months in federal prison and an extension of twenty four months to his parole for repeatedly violating the conditions of his supervised release.

In 2006, Rizzolo, the former owner of the now defunct Crazy Horse Too strip club in Las Vegas and part owner of the former Crazy Horse Too in Philadelphia, plead guilty to tax evasion and racketeering. He received an abbreviated one year prison sentence and two years of supervised release after agreeing to pay over $24 million in court ordered debts including $14 million to the IRS in back taxes and fines, a $2.2 million fine owed to the City of Las Vegas, and restitution of $9 million plus interest to Kirk Henry whose neck was broken by a Vegas Crazy Horse Too manager after the Kansas tourist disputed a padded bar tab.

Rick Rizzolo is followed out of the Las Vegas Federal Court House by Steve Miller and Buffalo Jim Barrier
after pleading guilty to racketeering and tax evasion. ( photo by Mike Christ, 06/01/06)

Several months before his plea agreement, Rizzolo's family attorneys arranged a sham divorce wherein he transferred the majority of his riches to his long time wife Lisa. Then with the help of asset protection attorney John Dawson, brother of Federal Court Judge Kent Dawson, over ten million dollars in assets were secretly transferred to a bank in the Cook Islands out of the legal reach of Kirk Henry and the IRS.

Dawson knowingly made the secreted asset transfer while Rick Rizzolo's story was front page news including numerous stories about his obligation to pay Henry and the IRS. Shortly after John Dawson transferred the assets off shore, Dawson's brother the Federal Judge handed down suspiciously light sentences to 15 Crazy Horse Too employees against the advice of the U.S. Attorney, and without disclosing that his brother was busy hiding Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's assets.

A very clever Motion was then filed on October 28, 2010 by attorneys for Lisa Rizzolo asking that the court force Kirk Henry to sue Judge Dawson's brother for allegedly being in total control of the Rizzolo's hidden assets, or if they refused, that the Henry's case be dismissed in its entirety. Lisa's Motion erroneously claimed that Dawson somehow had autonomous control over the Rizzolo's off shore assets, that he was their "Protector," and the Federal Court had no jurisdiction over his actions.

However, on July 21, 2011, Judge Pro filed an ORDER DENYING Lisa Rizzolo's Motion, ending a nine month stalemate and opening the door to hand down harsher than asked for sentences to Rick Rizzolo, while ordering that the couple's off shore assets be immediately repatriated to the United States.

Judge Pro's ORDER states: "As Plaintiffs allege Defendants Lisa and Rick Rizzolo orchestrated various fraudulent transfers between themselves, the fact that they may have used the services of attorneys and accountants to facilitate those transfers does not make the attorneys and accountants necessary parties where Plaintiffs seek no relief from these persons who acted as Defendantsí agents or were mere conduits for the transfers."

"...Lisa and Rick Rizzolo adequately represent the trustsí interests, and the Court can afford complete relief as it can compel Lisa and Rick Rizzolo, as owners and beneficiaries of the trusts, to repatriate assets to the United States."

"Further, the courts and the public have an interest in the complete, consistent, and efficient settlement of controversies, which would be frustrated if a defendant could defeat a fraudulent joinder action by moving fraudulently conveyed assets to an offshore trust administered by a trustee not subject to jurisdiction in United States courts, and then claim that failure to join the trustee mandates dismissal under Rule 19."

After his release from prison in April 2008, Rick resumed his lavish lifestyle including compulsive gambling and partying in Vegas' most exclusive clubs, while refusing to pay any of his court ordered debts. His behavior resulted in last Wednesday's revocation of parole and his re-imprisonment along with these new conditions:

Special Condition number 7 is expected to hit Rick especially hard considering the following description of his behavior during one of his many gambling binges.

"He marches into the casino surrounded by eye candy. The bosses only let males deal to him because of his foul language. After usually losing up to $350,000 per night, he makes a scene screaming obscenities. If he wins, he throws thousands of dollars at the dealers and bosses. What a nut!"

These are the words of a local dealer who says he often dealt to Rizzolo (shown in photo with Rocco Lombardo, brother of Joey "The clown" Lombardo) in the days when the Crazy Horse Too was Rizzolo's personal cash cow.

A visitor to Rizzolo's lavish private office at the Crazy Horse Too provided INSIDE VEGAS with this eyewitness description of where Rick spent most of his time: 

"You are greeted by framed prints of famous gangster movies (Casino, Goodfellows, etc.) Upon entry, the visitor is treated to a virtual 'shrine' of organized crime memorabilia and mob photos.  A 'limited edition' Leroy Neiman painting of Al Capone sits directly behind the 'original' barber's chair that Al Capone used in his office in the south side Chicago hotel he used as his headquarters. To the side of his desk, your host proudly displays (angled nicely for the visitor to see) a framed 8 by 10 photograph of his 'rabbi' Joey Cusamano.  Scattered around the banquet size office are additional posters from some of his favorite gangster movies (the Godfather, Little Caesar and others). If the guest is fortunate enough to be invited to escort his host around the topless club the first time of the night, when he enters the room, he can witness every single floor man he comes in contact with, come up to the Boss and respectfully kiss his cheek. If you wanted to be a soldier for this leader, what would you do when some customer has the nerve to refuse to pay tribute to your leader's sanctuary or one of his 'broads?' I'm only surprised that they don't wear spats with their tuxedos and brass knuckles."

Rizzolo's lawyers have bragged that he made a profit of $5 million to $6 million a year from the Las Vegas Crazy Horse Too. Rizzolo himself has bragged it was more like $10 million.

But now after the July 20, 2011 ruling by Judge Pro that Rizzolo can no longer gamble until the end of his extended supervised release in June 2014, he may be inclined to clean out his alleged casino cage safety deposit boxes.

Anyone who has lived in Vegas more than a year knows how protective our casinos are of their "whales," especially when it comes to revealing safe deposit box usage. Rizzolo reportedly had/has a one million dollar line of credit in several Strip casinos. Therefore, Kirk Henry's attorneys in March 2010 issued subpoenas (example below) to several of Rizzolo's favorite Sin City haunts hoping to locate hidden cash.

Though the depositions are sealed, many believe the casinos revealed enough evidence to encourage Judge Pro to issue his ruling that bans Rizzolo from continuing to gamble away cash rightfully owed to Henry, the IRS, and others.

If he still has cash hidden in one or more local casino cages, Rizzolo is expected to try to retrieve it in the next seven weeks before he's required to surrender to United States Marshals to begin his renewed prison sentence. Or he may just let it sit there until his release from prison in May 2012. Either way, several casino bosses are probably having cold sweats right about now thinking of ways to protect a whale who could well be back at their tables sometime in 2012, unless the Nevada Gaming Commission enforces NRS 463.151 following his release from prison, and holds a hearing to induct Rizzolo into the infamous Black Book of persons excluded from Nevada casinos.

According to these two provisions of the NRS, he certainly qualifies for Black Book inclusion:
NRS 463.151: Regulations requiring exclusion or ejection of certain persons from licensed establishments: Persons included:
(2) Willful evasion of fees or taxes; (c) Notorious or unsavory reputation which would adversely affect public confidence and trust that the gaming industry is free from criminal or corruptive elements

Last Wednesday's sentencing hearing in Federal Court was unusually solemn. Rizzolo sat at the Defendant's table wearing his $30,000 Rolex, chewing gum and nervously laughing. His attorneys Dominic Gentile and Margaret Lambrose sat beside him, never admonishing his gum chewing, slouching posture, or giggling. At the Prosecutor's table were Assistant United States Attorney Eric Johnson and Rizzolo's parole officer Eric Christiansen. At another table sat Henry's attorneys Don Campbell, Stan Hunterton, and Phil Erwin. Sitting in the lonely gallery was a single IRS fraud investigator arduously taking notes, several newspaper reporters, a half dozen UNLV law students and a bailiff. Otherwise, Rizzolo's loyal spiritual advisor Father Dave Casaleggio was nowhere to be seen, as was Rizzolo's defense financier Fred Doumani, both familiar faces at their friend's previous trials and hearings.

At one moment in the three hour proceedings, smiles broke out on several faces when Judge Pro issued an ORDER giving Kirk Henry priority over the IRS regarding the seizure of a secret $3 million dollars the Rizzolos were to receive from the sale of the Philadelphia Crazy Horse Too. Henry's attorneys discovered the money during a deposition of Rizzolo's business partner Vince Piazza, father of baseball legend Mike Piazza.

The ruling will finally bring some relief to the Henrys who for over nine years have had to pay their own medical bills for the full time care Kirk needs after being rendered a quadriplegic from the beating he received in front of the Crazy Horse Too in October 2001.

The money will also go toward paying college tuition for the Henry's two children who have become young adults during the nine years their father's lawsuit has taken -- so far -- to find some semblance of justice.
Full docket text for document 459:
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS - Sentencing Re Revocation of Supervised Release as to Frederick John Rizzolo held on 7/20/2011 before Judge Philip M. Pro. Crtrm Administrator: Donna Sherwood; AUSA: Eric Johnson; Counsel for Amy & Kirk Henry: C. Stanley Hunterton, Donald Campbell, Philip Erwin; Def Counsel: Dominic Gentile, Margaret Lambrose; USPO: Eric Christiansen; Court Reporter/FTR #: Joan Quiros; Time of Hearing: 9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.; Courtroom: 7C; Defendant is present. ORDERED Defendant's Motion for Leave to Permit Defendant to Negotiate an Offer in Compromise with the Internal Revenue Service [451] is granted in part and denied in part as stated on the record. Consistent with the Court's Order entered on 10/15/2008, the Court finds Amy & Kirk Henry have priority over the Internal Revenue Service as to the payments from the Piazza Partnership due to Lions. Defendant Rizzolo shall arrange for payments from the Piazza Partnership due to Lions to be paid to Amy & Kirk Henry and Defendant Rizzolo shall not take any action, directly or indirectly or through any agents or anyone else acting on his behalf, to hinder the payments of those monies to Amy & Kirk Henry in partial satisfaction of restitution obligations to them. The Court hears the arguments of counsel as to sentencing. The Court finds the defendant has violated special conditions 3, 4 and 6 of his supervised release. ORDERED supervised release is revoked. Sentence is imposed. (See separate Judgment.) FURTHER ORDERED defendant shall self-surrender to the facility designated by the Bureau of Prisons on 9/14/2011. On motion of Mr. Hunterton, IT IS ORDERED the money in the Bank of America Account in Philadelphia shall be turned over to the Henrys forthwith. Counsel shall submit a proposed Order for the Court's signature. (Deadline to return exhibits set for 12/21/2011.) (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - DMS)

This story began back in 1993 when Rick Rizzolo's then-landlord Jim Schiff approached Buffalo Jim Barrier, the next door neighbor of the Las Vegas Crazy Horse Too, and ask if he would meet with Rizzolo to discuss a buy out of his long time auto repair business' lease in order to use the garage's space for an expansion of the topless bar.

Barrier, now deceased, described the meeting to INSIDE VEGAS.

"Jim and Rick walked into my office and sat down. Rick lit up a smoke (Barrier did not allow smoking in his business) and sat there while Jim asked me how much I would need to move to a new location. I told them around half a million in order to pay for the move, the down time, and to pay increased rent for the remaining 8 years on my present lease that cost me only thirty-eight cents a square foot. I said a similar location on Industrial Road costs $1.40 a foot, and I would have to make up the difference in the rent to break even. Jim asked Rick if that was OK. Rick said he wouldn't pay me a cent to move out. He got up, put his cigarette out on my carpet, and left. The next day, the tires were slashed on all my customer's cars."
That meeting started a feud that would become a part of Vegas history!

Regarding the meeting, 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."

During the next few years, Barrier, a colorful former pro wrestler, would not budge an inch to make way for Rizzolo's expansion, and Rizzolo tried every illicit trick in the book to intimidate him.  But it was Barrier's customers who suffered the blunt of Rizzolo's actions with keyed paint, illegal tows, etc.

                                photos by Buffalo Jim Barrier

At one point, Rizzolo proved he had someone at City Hall on his payroll when the City of Las Vegas began patrolling the privately owned strip club's parking lot on an hourly basis to ticket only Barrier's customer's cars, then Rizzolo would call to have the ticketed cars towed away. Rizzolo's friends at the City also placed "Fire Lane" signs around Barrier's business so no customer's cars could park nearby (The "Fire Lane" was used as a Crazy Horse Too valet parking area at night.) Barrier went on TV news and called Rizzolo's actions "chicken shit." Then he challenged Rizzolo to a wrestling match. The winner would get to keep his lease while the loser would have to move. Rizzolo declined. Several months later, to Rizzolo's dismay, Barrier was voted "Las Vegas Most Colorful Character" by the readers of the Review-Journal, and began being paid to appear in Toyota television commercials.

Based on Rizzolo's harassment, Barrier went to court and won, several times, and Rizzolo was forced to reimburse him for his losses again and again.

This inspired Rizzolo to ask the advice of his attorneys Dean Patti and Tony Sgro. They mis-advised him to buy the shopping center where his and Barrier's businesses were co-located, saying he could immediately evict Barrier and move into his space if he was the landlord.

Rizzolo bought the property from Jim Schiff's widow for $5 million dollars, and Patti and Sgro promptly filed an eviction notice against Barrier.  Barrier's attorney Gus Flangas went to court, and the judge ruled in Barrier's favor saying that his lease was valid for the years remaining, and it automatically transferred to any new owners.  Rizzolo walked out of court embarrassed, and lost over two million dollars by taking his lawyer's advice and paying 40% more than the property was worth at the time. (The Crazy Horse Too property sold on July 1, 2011 for $3 million dollars to a California investor.)

Undaunted, Rizzolo waited for the next summer when the valley temperature reached 110 degrees. To encourage Barrier to leave, Rizzolo repeatedly had Barrier's air conditioners sabotaged. Barrier installed cameras on the roof of his garage, and the tampering abruptly stopped.

In October 2001, Barrier photographed Kirk Henry lying crippled in front of the topless bar. He shared his photos with the local and national news media. After the story broke, Tony Sgro tried to say Henry arrived at the bar with his neck already broken, but Barrier's time stamped photos proved otherwise. The photos were used by NBC News in national stories about the years of brutality at Rizzolo's bar, brutality that was becoming a concern to the FBI.

Barrier photographed dozens more of Rizzolo's victims as they lay in the parking lot, or tried to walk away after being beaten and robbed. He shared his photos with the FBI, and on February 24, 2003, partly based on information Barrier supplied, 80 special agents of the FBI and DEA raided the Crazy Horse Too.

Barrier became a government informant. Rick Rizzolo and his father Bart became more obsessed with Barrier each day, and began making foolish mistakes. The feds discovered wire taps and hidden microphones in Barrier's garage and office. The wires led directly to Rizzolo's office a hundred feet away.

Buffalo Jim became my most reliable source, and dozens of INSIDE VEGAS columns (linked to below) were based on the highly reliable information he provided.

On November 26, 2007, Rick's late father Bart Rizzolo tried to run Barrier over in the parking lot in front of the Crazy Horse Too. Barrier went back to court and was issued a well publicized Restraining Order that humiliated Bart, and prohibited him from stepping foot on his own family's property for the next 30 days. When the first Restraining Order expired, the judge issued a second one over the protests of Bart's attorney Dominc Gentile.

At midnight, June 30, 2007, the Crazy Horse Too was finally shut down. Jim Barrier was credited with its demise. Rick Rizzolo was in prison at the time.

It makes one wonder what Rizzolo's associates in the Bonanno crime family must think of his killing the goose that laid the golden eggs, and whether Rick will be safe during his second prison stay?

Some say that all the problems the Rizzolos have encountered could have been prevented back in 1993 if Rick simply took one week's worth of his gambling losses and invested it helping Buffalo Jim move down the street.

The day after Rick Rizzolo's April 4, 2008 release from prison, Buffalo Jim Barrier was found dead in a Boulder Highway motel room. On the day of his death, Barrier reported receiving an anonymous letter warning him there would be an attempt on his life.

Las Vegas Review-Journal VIDEO



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