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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:

What others have to say
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 2, 2004

                             Las Vegas Review Journal editorial cartoon by Jim Day

LAS VEGAS - When someone is in terrible trouble and doesn't want to admit their own culpability, they often try to pass blame onto the messenger. In the case of thug-meister Rick Rizzolo, the purported owner of the violence-plagued Crazy Horse Too topless bar in Vegas, he seems preoccupied with this writer. He often mentions me by name when rationalizing his problems with federal authorities.

In all fairness, I believe that others should be given credit for also telling this sordid story. To lend balance, I'll start with Rizzolo's own words followed by those of his attorney: every article devoted to myself or my club, Mr. Miller continues to make unsubstantiated statements or make tenuous connections to unrelated events in an attempt to show that I somehow run the City of Las Vegas, including its prosecutors, the police and fire departments, the judges, and the City Council. -- Rick Rizzolo, 10/09/01

Virtually every week, Mr. Miller writes an article... disparaging Mr. Rizzolo. On some ambitious weeks, he writes two or three of these articles. I understand the importance of a free press. Mr. Miller is certainly entitled to his opinion and he is entitled to express that opinion in print. What Mr. Rizzolo has always objected to is not Mr. Millerís negative opinions of him, but of the weekly misstatements of fact. In the hundreds of articles written by Mr. Miller about Mr. Rizzolo over the years, one would be hard pressed to find a single one that was not replete with inaccuracies. -- Rizzolo's attorney Tony Sgro, 10/10/02

Since Rick and Tony made the above statements, much has happened to weaken their arguments -- especially regarding Rizzolo's corrupting influence on greedy judges, politicians, and bad cops. I'll let others help me make my point:

...he violated department policies prohibiting officers from accepting gifts from suspects and consorting with persons of ill repute. -- Clark County Sheriff Bill Young on a police officer taking $15,000 from Rizzolo, 08/06/03

I am also very knowledgeable regarding some of the criminal elements here and those with unsuitable or shady type backgrounds, so I'm very familiar with this Mr. Rick Rizzolo... People such as you, very successful, very young, are considered marks. People in organized crime try to set you up, to get some of your funds. And I think that's what they were trying to do with you. -- Bobby Siller, Nevada Gaming Control Board member (retired Agent in Charge of the Las Vegas office of the FBI), 01/08/04

As the Crazy Horse Too case draws closer to the indictment stage, word is surfacing that authorities are investigating whether two of the topless club's employees received preferential treatment after being stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence. -- John L. Smith, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 07/23/04

Heard the one about the topless club manager who skated on a DUI arrest with a Metro officer's assistance? You will. -- John L. Smith, Las Vegas Review Journal, 07/30/04

When the police arrived a few minutes later, they put me in handcuffs.  My girlfriend who had seen the last part of the beating, couldn't hold back anymore and tried to run to me because my face was bloody and my eyes swollen.  An officer stepped in front of her and she brushed by him trying to get around him.  She was then arrested for assaulting an officer.  So with both of us handcuffed and my face pretty messed up, we were offered by the Sergeant that we would be let go, but if we decided to press charges on the club, my girlfriend would be charged with assaulting an officer. -- Eddie Soula, 07/19/04

The connections between corrupted police officers and Rick Rizzolo date back many years. In fact, his bar is a half way house for disgraced cops and violent ex-cons according to two former federal organized crime prosecutors:

For years, the management and 'security' staff of the Crazy Horse has been infested by a rogues' gallery of thugs, thieves, drug pushers, and corrupt ex-cops. Most, if not all, have well documented ties to organized crime figures who frequent the premises. All of this has nurtured a culture of violence marked by robberies, beatings and even death. -- Donald Campbell and Stan Hunterton, 12/22/02

For this reason, its often been alleged that some local cops protect Rizzolo's interests in exchange for money or sexual favors.

McDonald 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. -- Complaint to LVMPD Internal Affairs, 05/26/98

Mr. Miller... could have no justification for publishing false and misleading information, especially considering Mr. Miller's inside information, Mr. Miller is a party to the lawsuits* and has been privy to all information. Everything Mr. Miller reports is also public information and requires no diligence or investigative reporting. Yet, Mr. Miller, in his article, omits, skews, or outwardly lies about pertinent information. -- Rick Rizzolo, 10/09/01

After too many cases of beatings followed by missing or never filed police reports, no action taken by the District Attorney, and compromised cops coercing persons who wish to file complaints, the feds stepped in.

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. -- Jeff German, Las Vegas SUN, 06/11/04

Because I don't  omitskew or lie about pertinent information, Rizzolo in 2001, filed a baseless defamation suit in an effort to silence my factual reports. Undaunted, I continued reporting on violence, political corruption, and credit card fraud at the Crazy Horse. His suit was dismissed in 2003 and I immediately reported its demise. On May 5, 2004, an obviously upset Rizzolo lawyer wrote the following letter to my attorney:

Sometime ago, we negotiated a settlement in the defamation case brought by Mr. Rizzolo against Mr. Miller. We had agreed to keep the matter quiet so as not to further embarrass Mr. Miller. Of the last few months, Mr. Miller has been writing articles and delivering those articles to prominent Nevada figures in which he asserts that he was vindicated in the litigation and that the judge dismissed the case against him for lack of evidence. Mr. Miller most recently made this claim in an internet article he published on April 26th, 2004. Given that Mr. Miller feels the need to discuss the resolution of this case publicly. [sic] and lie about said resolution, I no longer feel Mr. Rizzolo should be bound by any agreement to keep quiet about the settlement. If your client feels that this is inaccurate. [sic] please call me within the next week. I will ask Mr. Rizzolo to refrain from discussing the settlement of this case for at least one week. -- Jon W. Norheim

I advised my attorney not to answer Norheim's letter and I continued writing articles about the defunct SLAPP suit and how it was intended to violate my First Amendment rights and intimidate me. I also wrote about Rizzolo's 2001 attempt to have a gag order placed on me -- a motion that thankfully failed after the ACLU and attorneys for the Las Vegas Review Journal stepped in inspiring a local judge to begrudgingly change her mind after taking thousands of dollars from Rizzolo.

It was bittersweet to see that stupid lawsuit go away because it was my Badge of Courage and confirmed I was the first journalist to provide comprehensive coverage of the Rizzolo story. Now, with so many good reporters covering his pre-indictment activities and preparing to write books about the trial, I feel slighted.

For the past three months since Norheim's letter, Rick Rizzolo has remained quiet about his disappearing defamation case though I encourage him to speak about it. I even offer this space to publish his unedited response so he can "embarrass"me to his heart's delight. After over 12 weeks of silence, I hope he comes out of his cocoon to "Make my day!"

But if he doesn't, I'll understand. He has much more important things on his mind like possibly having to spend the rest of his life in a federal penitentiary for the pain and suffering he's alleged to have caused.

Click here for a complete compilation of news stories on Rick Rizzolo and the Crazy Horse Too.

* The author is a consultant to a law firm in a civil lawsuit against Frederick Rizzolo

* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas' scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs

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