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
Mike's journey from
little house to the Big House
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
July 30, 2007
Officer McDonald's old
McDonald makes a new
Councilman McDonald's new house
LAS VEGAS - Ex-Las Vegas City Councilman Michael J. McDonald
is currently the
subject of an IRS tax fraud investigation.
A federal grand jury will convene in several weeks to hear
the government's case against McDonald. An Indictment is expected soon
But like Al Capone, an IRS investigation is just
the tip of the iceberg.
sat on the city council between 1995 and 2003, McDonald was best known for being the
pawn of two topless bar owners, and doing the bidding of a shady golf
course developer and the
local trash collection company. In eight years, he went from a
$42,000 per year cop to a multimillionaire real estate
developer/business consultant though he never built anything other than
his own $1.75 million dollar residence, and his only known consulting
job was for a little known topless joint called Pleasures
that reportedly paid him $30,000 per month for his "consulting
services." Now the Feds want to know
how he did it?
Until he was ousted from the
council in 2003, the popular McDonald was considered
Las Vegas' golden boy of politics. Then a bleached blond, he was often
mayor or governor material, was an accepted member of Vegas high
society, and a member of the exclusive House of Blues Foundation.
In the meantime, he was working his old job as a bicycle cop for the
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, but his years on the force
were about to come to an abrupt end when the Sheriff learned of his
connections to organized crime.
While a cop, McDonald was accused of using his position to help his
school buddy, topless bar owner Rick
Rizzolo. This soon led to a $5,000
per month "consulting" gig with Rizzolo's Crazy Horse Too, the
free use of a villa on the Canyon Gate Country Club, unlimited guest privileges at Rizzolo's $3
million dollar beach front estate in
Laguna Beach, and full comps at Piero's in LV and the Ritz in Newport
Beach. (Piero's and the Ritz are owned by Freddy Glusman who is listed
as a partner in a land deal
with the husband and son of current LV Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian.)
Rizzolo in June 2006 was sentenced to one year and one day in Federal
Prison for racketeering and tax evasion.
(AmericanMafia.com photo by Chris Christoff)
The million dollar
villa was owned by Tony Tegano, the father in law of Rizzolo's closest
friend Joey Cusumano -- a member of Nevada's Black Book.
(Tegano is also listed as a partner in a land deal with Councilwoman
is always at the Crazy Horse on Industrial Road with Rizzolo. He is
able to entertain his fellow officers who target the other strip
joints," stated a 1998 letter
to the LVMPD Internal Affairs Bureau.
that didn't faze McDonald. In 2000 he even went so far as to refer to
Rizzolo as a "Pillar
of the community" at a council meeting.
the $5,000 a month and the free luxury digs, McDonald harassed nearby
club owners, especially Mike Galardi and Ray Pistol. He also mounted a
campaign to force
Rizzolo's next door neighbor Buffalo Jim Barrier to move out of his
auto repair business of 30 years so Rizzolo could expand into his space
without having to pay to buy out the lease
McDonald's first big mistake was when he attempted to squelch
Presidential Advisor Sig Rogich's plan to convert his office building
property into a competitive gentleman's club called Treasures.
McDonald dispatched city workers to measure the distance between Sig's
property and the nearest school hoping it was too close and would stop
the issuance of a business license. When that failed, McDonald helped
Rizzolo's sister Annette set up a phony
church across the street from the property in order to kill the
When this was revealed in the local press, Sheriff Jerry Keller told the LV
SUN: "We felt the crimes had been predicated,
and the probable cause shows that they were." However, the District
Attorney refused to prosecute which has been the norm in all cases
involving Rick Rizzolo for many years.
McDonald resigned from the police department a few months prior to the
Rogich story going public.
After leaving the P.D.,
McDonald tried to set up his own City Police Department by hiring all
high school buddies as Marshals. This put him in the cross hairs of
Mayor Oscar Goodman who wanted full control at City Hall.
19990802-00466 Book/Instr: 19990802 / 466
Document Type: Oath - Revoke, Recorded: 08/02/1999 10:07:59
ReRecorded: N Remarks:
Requestor: METROPOLITAN POLICE LAS VEGAS
1st Party: METROPOLITAN POLICE LAS VEGAS
2nd Party: MCDONALD, MICHAEL J
In the meantime, several friends and I started a "Recall McDonald"
a photo of Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald on Thursday as he
plays "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash on a tape recorder during a news
conference. The conference was called to announce a recall effort
(Photo by Steve Marcus - Las Vegas SUN)
One evening during the period the City was considering
McDonald's new police department idea, a boozed up Goodman was caught
by a local TV
news crew as he left a social function. Goodman
called McDonald a
"government rat," a "wimp," the "lowest form of human being," and a
"sleazeball," adding that he had "no use" for McDonald and was "going
to get rid of him."
weeks later, Goodman signed my Recall McDonald Petition.
The recall failed after a box containing several thousand signed
petitions turned up missing. The volunteer who had possession on of the
box was never heard from again.
Knowing McDonald's council position was secure, Rick Rizzolo arranged a
meeting of his two close friends and asked them for a truce. Shortly
thereafter, McDonald and Goodman teamed up to intensify the harassment
of Buffalo Jim Barrier and Mike Galardi.
years later In 2003, in respect to Rizzolo's truce, Goodman placed a
"Re-elect McDonald" sign on his front lawn next to his own, and
endorsed Rizzolo's lap dog.
During the election, I worked to convince voters that
McDonald was a stooge for Goodman's former and current criminal defense
clients including Rizzolo and golf course developer Billy Walters. He lost the
election. On the eve of his defeat McDonald draped himself in the
American flag and sought solace from his mentor.
Now the IRS is looking into Mike McDonald's finances. They even
went so far as to reportedly use the Patriot Act to accomplish their
goals. But one of the most intriguing aspects of this case came in
testimony during the "Operation G-Sting"
trial when Mike
Galardi told the jury that he had been "bribing" McDonald $5,000
per month while he was on the city council. Galardi was later
sentenced to thirty months in Federal Prison for bribing public
officials in Las Vegas and San Diego.
McDonald and Galardi
in San Diego
According to sources close to the investigation, Galardi
in 2000 became sick and tired of being harassed by the City at the
behest of Rizzolo/McDonald. He decided, as the old saying goes, "If
you can't beat em, join em," and started paying McDonald tribute along
with awarding him a Rolex President watch with a diamond bezel worth
Other bribes were suspected of coming from the trash company and a golf
course developer though this information has yet to be
When McDonald championed Republic being awarded a five-billion-dollar
exclusive franchise two years before it was due for renewal, and
without allowing competitive bidding, I filed an ethics complaint
against him because he accepted at least $30,000 in campaign
from persons associated with the firm.
Five billion dollar exclusive franchises don't come cheap.
(Photos by Las Vegas
Steve watched as Councilman McDonald
was questioned by the State Ethics Commission about favors he did for
Republic Silver State Disposal. Following the hearing, McDonald showed
anger because the Commission found probable
cause to conduct a full hearing.
Though the complaint put a spotlight on McDonald's questionable
behavior, he was found innocent of all charges.
(LV SUN photo)
Four years after
being removed from public office, a much heavier Michael McDonald is
facing the fight of his life. As he knows all too well having been a
police officer, the Federal Government, especially the Internal Revenue
Service, does not launch an exhaustive highly publicized investigation
and impanel a grand jury unless they have hard evidence. The Feds don't
like to be embarrassed.
I'm sure they're looking into that $30,000 month "consulting" contract,
and whether it constitutes the laundering of pay off's for his service
to to the trash company or golf course developer.
Also, his journey from that 1,095 sq. ft. bungalow on Carmen Blvd. that
he shared with his parents until 1999, into his current 5,676 sq. ft.
custom house he built on the corner acre at 2520 Pinto Lane, has got to
have piqued the interest of the IRS.
In the modern day world of Sin City, I'm sorry to say the saga
of Mike McDonald is not an anomaly. However, based on his years as a
cop, and his knowledge of how ex-cops fare in prison, it will be
interesting to see if he cuts a deal with prosecutors.
If so, with McDonald's help, the "Big Fish" the Feds have been after
since 2002 may soon be in their net. And Rick Rizzolo may soon be
joined by some old friends at the Big House.
Copyright © Steve Miller
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