Extortion Scam To Continue
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 10, 2009
LAS VEGAS - Last week I wrote how hundreds
of Vegas cabbies are boycotting a
local strip club that has its roots in a scam that involves certain
Strip hotel doormen calling selected limos and vans to the front of the
taxi line when tourists request rides to adult businesses -- some that
are extorted into paying drivers up to $100 per passenger delivered to
their door, or face being boycotted.
The most recent scam involves doormen singling
out potential strip club patrons and "brokering" limo and van rides to
their boss' strip club, i.e., offering free transportation if the riders
agree to go to only that location.
In the meantime, cab drivers are forced
to take passengers only to locations that do not pay extortion, thereby
severely cutting into income that was once their exclusive domain. This
has caused angry confrontations and violence.
Most of the extortion bounty is split between
a select group of doormen, their strip club owner boss, and his silent
partner -- the owner of a certain limo company. A small cut is given to
the limo and van drivers who must often defend their actions with their
fists when cabbies protest after a black limo or van cuts in front of them
in the queue.
The August 3, 2009 INSIDE
VEGAS column opined that the most vocal complainer is the godson of
one of our town's biggest crooks, and how he's being singled out by the
left-out cabbies, and how he got juiced into running the front doors of
several of the biggest hotels because his ex-wife is the "whale lady" at
those casinos. The column also tells how his godfather was a whale in her
casinos, and with her help, how his godson managed to send thousands of
customers to his now-defunct strip club, the Crazy
After the Crazy Horse was closed by the
feds and the godfather imprisoned, the godson's doorman status suddenly
catapulted him to topless club mogul -- possibly with his godfather acting
as silent partner.
The following letter from Mendy Elliot,
Director of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, just surfaced.
It tells of a 2008 effort on the part of the state to stop the limo/doorman
scam, and may be the smoking gun that law suit plaintiffs and the IRS are
The week after this letter was received
by management at all Vegas hotels, Ms. Elliot was transferred to another
position in state government.
At the time of the letter, extorted businesses
were paying around $50 per passenger.
Elliot's replacement, Dianne Cornwall,
did not follow through with the enforcement action, nor did Andrew MacKay
and Gordon Walker of the Nevada Taxicab authority. It's as if the letter
was never written. The prevalence of the limo/doorman scam has escalated,
and the bounty has risen to over $100 per passenger during the past year.
In the meantime, Rizzolo's godson has produced
a video complaining
of being boycotted by taxi drivers. However, he doesn't mention that it's
his casino doormen who are creating the problem by letting competing
limos and vans cut in to the front of the queue of taxis to hustle customers
to his club. He just says that "good people" at the hotels send him customers.
He neglects to mention that he takes a cut from his doormen who participate
in the extortion of his competitors, and divert as many strip club bound
patrons to his club as they can.
As this illegal practice continues, two
lawsuits, one local,
the other federal,
are winding their way through the courts. Neither lawsuit has yet targeted
the real culprit in this scam; the Nevada Department of Business and Industry,
an agency that has the authority to enforce at least three ignored state
laws, but has opted out.
weeks after the above letter went out, Governor Jim Gibbons replaced Mendy
Elliot. Her successor, Dianne Cornwall, was selected without taking competitive
applications by Gibbons who is a close friend of transportation lobbyist
Sig Rogich (shown hugging fellow lobbyist Billy Vassiliadis).
Cornwall's sudden about face on the limo/doorman
issue inspired questions as to whether her appointment was politically
In addition to being Gibbons' campaign
manager and fund raiser, Rogich represents the interests of transportation
companies including some that do not want to pay their often non-citizen
drivers fair wages and benefits, and consider the pay offs drivers receive
from adult businesses as supplemental wages.
In 2005, a local cab company hired Rogich
to kill legislation that would have required cameras in cabs. Between
cameras were first proposed, and 2005 when they were voluntarily installed
in most taxies, nineteen local taxi drivers were killed during robberies,
and most of their assailants got away. Since 2005, no driver has been harmed
in camera equipped cabs despite Rogich's efforts.
Immediately upon taking over the Nevada
Department of Business and Industry, Cornwall stopped the limo driver/hotel
doorman payoff enforcement action. It's not known whether Rogich influenced
her decision, but the only persons the discontinuation of this enforcement
action benefit are certain limo and taxi company owners, certain doormen,
and one strip club owner.
It's been suggested that Dianne Cornwall
and her Department of Business and Industry be added as defendants in the
two lawsuits. That way she can be placed under oath, and the reason for
her sudden stoppage of the enforcement action can be determined. IRS
criminal investigation agents looking into the multimillion-dollar
cash-for-customers business may also find Ms. Cormwall's explanation of