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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:

The "Godfather" spares a wannabe
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
July 5, 2004

Coming up on DATELINE NBC, Friday July 2, 2004, 8:00 PM ET/PT (7:00 PM CT/MT) A manís life is drastically changed forever after entering a world of sex, violence and intimidation in Las Vegas. Datelineís Rob Stafford reports. -- from the KVBC TV web site

LAS VEGAS -- The death of Marlon Brando inadvertently preempted a long-awaited DATELINE NBC segment about a wannabe "Godfather," Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo.
     Marlon Brando         Rick Rizzolo

The originally scheduled DATELINE NBC program would have been the first major TV network exposure of the criminal activities at Rizzolo's Las Vegas topless bar, but at the last minute the program was changed into a tribute to the beloved movie actor. The preemption temporarily spared Las Vegas the embarrassment of airing our dirtiest laundry to the entire nation, and gave Rizzolo an undeserved reprieve.

Regarding the late Mr. Brando, after the release of the original "Godfather" movie, he told Newsweek, "I don't think the film is about the Mafia at all." "I think it is about the corporate mind. In a way, the Mafia is the best example of capitalists we have."

If Marlon Brando's statement was valid, then Las Vegas' own version of Don Vito Corleone deserves an award for his "capitalistic" enterprises including alleged racketeering, coercion, political corruption, credit card fraud, mayhem and possibly murder!

The following describes a visit to Mr. Rizzolo's office and his fetish for anything "Godfatherish."

"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." - Author's name withheld by request

The Crazy Horse Too, unlike any other adult business in Vegas, is the repeated scene of violence spurred on by alleged prostitution, extortion, and coercion. Police records reveal nine assault and six robbery cases all involving Crazy Horse Too employees, along with 737 police responses in just 3 years -- many based on customers being beaten after refusing to sign what they say were falsified credit card bills -- but there have been no criminal prosecutions. This is the basis of the about-to-be rescheduled DATELINE NBC segment.

Meanwhile, as the extortion and violence continues, Las Vegas' former mob lawyer-turned-Mayor, Oscar Goodman, coddles Rizzolo and his friends, many who were Goodman's former law firm's clients and now prospective clients for his two lawyer sons.

On October 25, 2001, I wrote a letter to our popular Mayor requesting he bring the Crazy Horse Too before the City Council on an administrative action to defend its privileged license. He refused, and the violence continued.

Instead, he sponsored a custom designed ordinance to allow the Crazy Horse to expand!

Goodman joins Rizzolo's lawyer Dean Patti (L) at
Recommending Committee hearing to speak in
favor of ordinance allowing Crazy Horse to expand

Goodman then sponsored another highly questionable ordinance, this one to allow city topless bars to employ teenage strippers in direct violation of state law. "When you're 18, you're allowed to die for your country, so why can't some young lady or young man perform?" Goodman said.

Conspicuously absent from the Mayor's statement is the fact that 18 year old males are prohibited from being in the audience of topless bars even though they are "allowed to die for your country." Only girls -- many in their teens -- work the city clubs making hundreds of dollars per night taking off their clothes, lap dancing, and peddling $400 bottles of champagne while city licensing officials obediently turn their backs in respect to the Mayor's wishes -- especially at the Crazy Horse Too.

"We're an adult community, an adult playland," Goodman said. "Let's not pretend to be something we're not. I think anything that's legal should be here."

LV Review-Journal photo by Craig L. Moran

When the media began to question his wisdom, Goodman became defensive. "There's no prostitution taking place (at the city clubs) according to" Metro Police, Goodman said. "And if there was, they should arrest them, not make some big fuss as to what some 18-year-old girl is doing to make living." (Notice he only mentions "18-year-old girls" this time. He must've finally realized topless bars don't hire18-year-old guy dancers!)

While I was informing the public that their Mayor was using the power of his office to aid his personal friends and former clients -- sometimes at the expense of local teenage girls, he paid an unexpected visit to my home to try to appease me. It didn't work.

Concurrently, Rizzolo's attorney Dean Patti had filed a SLAPP suit, and almost convinced a friendly local judge (Honorable Nancy Siatta) to issue a gag order stopping my reports. But she backed down at the last minute when the ACLU and Las Vegas Review-Journal intervened, and after an Editorial in another local paper revealed she had received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Rick Rizzolo.

Honorable Nancy Siatta

Undaunted by Goodman and Rizzolo's efforts, I kept reporting, and the SLAPP suit was soon dismissed.

Mayor Oscar Goodman and Steve Miller in front of writer's home
            ( photo by Mike Christ)

To counter my increasingly frequent reports and those of others, Rizzolo's PR man Tom Letizia -- who doubles as the Mayor's campaign manager -- launched a public relations blitz touting Rick Rizzolo's charitable contributions. However, the revealing stories kept coming including a segment on MSNBC.

June 11, 2004 
Columnist Jeff German: Rizzolo, feds itching for a fight 
Sixteen months after FBI agents raided his popular strip club looking for evidence of hidden mob interests, federal prosecutors are preparing to seek racketeering indictments against Rizzolo and his management team, some of whom, federal investigators say, have underworld ties. Authorities have put the word out that they're hoping indictments will be returned as early as September. A host of charges -- including extortion, tax evasion, prostitution and credit card fraud -- are being considered against Rizzolo and his Crazy Horse Too underlings. Some of the charges relate to a pattern of alleged beatings at the nightclub, including one involving Kirk Henry, a Kansas City man whose neck was broken during an altercation with a bouncer in September 2001. Under the racketeering statute, the government also has the option of forcing Rizzolo to give up the lucrative club through either criminal or civil forfeiture proceedings.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
JOHN L. SMITH: Topless clubs cast spells that leave politicians dumbstruck, or just dumb
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal 
We haven't mentioned the expected indictment of the crowd at the Crazy Horse Too. The FBI and IRS are working overtime with the U.S. attorney's office and the Organized Crime Strike Force to complete their case. Despite hundreds of calls for police service and a reputation for violence, the Crazy Horse Too remains open. It's an obvious public nuisance, but come to think of it so am I. The difference is, its licenses can be revoked by local authorities, if they weren't under that spell
Then NBC News got involved.
Friday, July 02, 2004
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal 
Tonight, "Dateline NBC" presents its take on the Crazy Horse Too topless cabaret, a segment that is sure to embarrass Las Vegas and make some people wonder why the controversial club, the subject of an ongoing FBI, IRS, and Metro investigation into everything from racketeering to tax evasion, is still open. The segment will focus on a case involving Kansas tourist Kirk Henry, who suffered a fractured neck outside the club and has sued owner Rick Rizzolo and others.

Rick Rizzolo made his fortune by convincing several crooked cops, a local reporter, greedy politicians, the past and present DA, and several judges to turn their backs on his and his associate's more than obvious criminal activities. It will now take outsiders from the FBI and IRS to clean up what we on a local level should have stopped many years ago.

(L to R) Annette Rizzolo, Ralph Rizzolo, Bart Rizzolo, unidentified FBI agent, & Joe Melfi
                              ( photo by Mike Christ)

On Oct. 4, 2001, Lt. John Alamshaw of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's robbery unit called me. Alamshaw stated that he had asked then-District Attorney Stewart Bell to prosecute several employees of the Crazy Horse Too for attempted murder and robbery with substantial bodily harm. Bell refused.

Bell's successor DA David Roger also refused to prosecute, though Bell, during his campaign for District Court Judge, told a TV audience that there was "probable cause" to prosecute employees of the Crazy Horse Too. With Rizzolo's blessings, Bell succeeded in being elected to the bench. In the meantime, Rick Rizzolo contributed heavily to David Roger's campaign for DA, though Roger reluctantly returned Rizzolo's campaign contributions after I wrote a story about his campaign funding in During the same time period, Rizzolo sued the Metro PD claiming they participated in a "Civil Conspiracy" when they raided his business. In June 2004, his suit was dismissed by US Federal Court Judge Lloyd D. George.

          DA David Roger

Anthony Galloway, the producer of what was to be last week's DATELINE NBC segment on Rizzolo, was not allowed in preparation of his program to access police files containing records of violent incidents at the Crazy Horse. In 2003, a Stay was issued by Federal District Court Judge Philip Pro temporarily stopping all discovery in cases and stories involving the Crazy Horse Too and Mr. Rizzolo pending federal criminal indictments. Luckily, I was in possession of several sealed police files, and happily shared them with Galloway.

So, Rizzolo's friends at Las Vegas City Hall and the Clark County Courthouse can breath a sigh of relief -- at least for now. However, DATELINE NBC promises to air the preempted Crazy Horse segment in the near future, and the Los Angeles Times is ready to go to press with a five part series on our town's dirtiest laundry. So stay tuned. This promises to be the biggest Sin City story since Bugsy Siegel, and you saw it here first.

In the meantime, may the "Godfather" rest in peace.

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