Paid Off Vegas Politicians Celebrate
Treasures closed. Building may go up for grabs
"We're not putting other sexually oriented businesses on trial.
know that our industry is that big of a problem."--
INSIDE VEGAS - by Steve Miller
September 20, 2004
I tried to warn them. All my INSIDE VEGAS articles about their
dilemma were hand delivered to the Davari brothers, owners of Treasures
On June 21, I wrote:
I've ever seen a set up in the works, this is it!" "After $30 million dollars
was invested in a palatial building, the bar became a roaring success to
the dismay of its nearby competitors along with certain city fathers who
would not even permit it to have a proper sign. In the meantime, word was
that competitors planted girls at Treasures to purposely break the law
and get caught."
I went on to warn, "You can't legally single out a business that
promises to set a standard higher than that of its competitors, competitors
including one infamous topless bar only a few blocks away that's being
investigated by the FBI and IRS for extortion, tax evasion, prostitution,
credit card fraud, coercion, racketeering and mayhem -- a business that
nonetheless is not under scrutiny by the City Council. A dangerous new
standard will be set if a broken promise is the basis for... the shutting
down of a prosperous business and putting its building up for grabs."
But that's not all. Three weeks earlier another forewarning INSIDE
was hand delivered to the Davaris stating, "The city government in 2001
begrudgingly granted a temporary liquor license to Ali and Hassan Davari,
the controversial owners of strip clubs in Texas. Not knowing they would
only be granted a temporary license, the brothers invested over $30 million
in a palatial structure now called Treasures located within the Las Vegas
city limits. Within weeks of its opening, City Code Enforcement Officers
were obediently crawling
all over the place finding all manner of fault from solicitation for prostitution,
to dance code violations. Meanwhile, the Crazy
Horse Too, a nearby competitor with strong local political connections,
was -- with impunity -- ripping off customer's credit cards and reportedly
beating up or crippling those who refused to sign bogus charge slips."
But, no one paid attention.
Now the Treasures building is dark and the action that brought it about
is being hailed at City Hall and in the plush office of a nearby competitor.
The Davaris were sold out by their choice of attorneys. Of all people,
they chose Ross Goodman and Mark Fiorentino. Fiorentino represents developers
regularly in front of the City Council -- a lawyer who needs to stay in
the good graces of the Mayor and certain Councilmembers.
And then there's Ross Goodman, the son of Mayor Oscar Goodman. Before
being elected in 1999, Oscar made his fortune defending persons presently
involved with the blood-soaked Crazy Horse Too, Treasures' nearest competitor.
Ross is following in his father's footsteps. Why the Davaris chose this
conflicted duo is anyone's guess.
TEXAS lawyer Paul Nugent, left, confers with
Treasures strip club owner David Ali Davari during
a Las Vegas City Council hearing.
MATTHEW MINARD / LAS
The day of the license hearing, I knew something was wrong when I noticed
an empty Council chambers. The gallery should have been stuffed to the
ceiling with the families of the 300 Treasures employees who were about
to lose their jobs. During my years on the Council, I can't remember a
time when employees threatened with losing their jobs ever avoided a chance
to plead their case to public officials. This time I expected to also see
a dozen or more speakers lined up at the podium, but as if they had been
told to stay home so as not to offend anyone, no employees were present.
The only ones to speak in Treasures' defense were Mr. Fiorentino and the
the club's private investigator.
I'm no fan of the Davaris. God knows they've had their problems over
the years. But I believe in justice, and what I witnessed Wednesday was
far from it.
Mark Fiorentino was expected to compare Treasures with the Crazy Horse
Too where people are regularly beaten and robbed. But instead he tried
to stay friends with the Mayor and Council by later saying
"I was trying to respect the integrity of the process."
While Fiorentino was "trying to respect the integrity of the process,"
he missed his only opportunity to compare his client's business to another
that is "way out in left field..." ...out of control..." as was stated
after the hearing by Private Investigator Tom Dillard who came prepared
to expose the sins of certain other clubs. If he had, the Council would
have been hard pressed to take the arbitrary action they did.
Several weeks before the license hearing, a representative of Treasures
obtained a copy of the August 8, 2004 edition of DATELINE
NBC. Newspapers speculated
that Fiorentino was preparing to expose the biggest disgrace Las Vegas
has experienced in recent history, the national TV coverage of the beating
of Kirk Henry at the Crazy Horse Too. He was expected to show the entire
bloody episode to the Council to prove there are far worse crimes going
on just down the street at a club that is "out of control," a club that
somehow remains immune from City scrutiny.
Days after requesting the DATELINE tape, the same Treasures representative
obtained a copy of a video of Mayor Goodman responding "I
did not see that" when asked if he had watched the DATELINE
episode even though a videotape of the episode was hand delivered to him
three days before he made his statement.
Goodman obviously doesn't have the guts to close down his former clients
and stop the bloodshed. In the meantime, City Attorney Brad Jerbic, City
Director of Business Activity Jim DiFiorie, and LVMPD Detective Stacy Rodd
obediently scrutinized only Treasures which had half as many arrests
as the Crazy Horse during the same time period.
Before the hearing, pundants wondered what embarrassment Fiorentino
might be conjuring up for his friends on the Council? But alas, nothing
embarrassing -- or effective -- was about to happen in defense of his clients.
He didn't "fall on his sword" as many expected, and for not doing so, today
Mark Fiorentino is still in good standing with the Mayor and Council for
his self serving respect for "the integrity of the process." Meanwhile,
the Davaris have hired new counsel and are contemplating their next move.
"Integrity of the process?" What process? This was a clear cut case
of one topless bar owner wanting to squelch competition through the use
of his juice with the Mayor and a Councilmember
who have ties to the Crazy Horse. It was also a scheme to steal a beautiful
building for fifty cents on the dollar, but no one wanted to listen.
On September 10, I stated in my daily E-Brief (also hand delivered to
the Davaris), "If the license revocation of Treasures fails, Oscar's
former clients at CH2 are expected to order him to (mis)use eminent
domain to get rid of Buffalo Jim Barrier so they can expand their blood-soaked
business in its present location. Our popular Mayor is expected to thumb
his nose at the bad press and obediently do the bidding of his former clients,
the guys who made him rich, and start the eminent domain process purportedly
to make way for the widening of Industrial Rd. But that may all be moot
after the feds
hand down their indictments against his former clients, something expected
before the first of the year."
To make matter worse, Fiorentino opened the hearing by saying "I hope
you don't challenge me today to find out if these offenses are unique to
Treasures," while Ross Goodman sat silently behind the Davaris in the empty
audience. His father had just exited to avoid a conflict of interest.
Such a "challenge" could have resulted in the salvation of Fiorentino,
Treasures, and the club's employees. However, he opted not to open up the
subject of selective prosecution, a subject that would have been easy to
prove and could have brought far different results. He also didn't address
the amount of taxes the 26,000 square foot business generated for the City.
Though he certainly would have offended some on the Council -- especially
the Mayor -- Fiorentino could nonetheless have opened the giant can of
worms in defense of his clients and done the community a favor by officially
exposing the mayhem at the Crazy Horse for the first time during a public
He could have argued that the Council can't legally single out a business
just for making promises it couldn't keep. In fact, the only reason the
council gave in and granted the Davaris a temporary license in the first
place was allegedly to avoid offending the man who was selling the land
to the brothers, Presidential Advisor and local king maker Sig Rogich.
Its a well known fact that nobody in local government would dare offend
the powerful Sig R. The rumor is that Treasures' license was granted so
the sale of Sig's property could go through, and because the timid Councilmembers
knew they couldn't win a future election without Sig's approval.
In 2004, Mr. Rogich had reportedly been paid the majority of his money
and the Treasures building secures the balance, so it was obviously open
season on the Davaris with no repercussions expected from Rogich and Company.
But by their actions in 2001, the Las Vegas City Council had complicity
in creating the problem that inspired last Wednesday's special hearing.
They forced a business to make a promise that on its face was unconstitutional,
a promise that could not be kept given that any large gathering of people
will create infractions of law whether it be at a park, concert, school,
Several members of the Council on Wednesday acknowledged that a promise
to close if even one misdemeanor conviction occurred was an unreachable
goal, but members of the same Council made just such an agreement in 2001
to help Rogich. Now the Council was holding someone other than themselves
totally responsible for their own board's self serving actions in 2001,
actions that at the time included testimony from the Mayor who blasted
the Davaris prior to his son going to work for them.
Then, though Goodman had recused, his earlier words were extensively
quoted by the City Attorney at Wednesday's hearing to further doom the
Davaris, while Fiorentino stood silent lodging no objection.
In respect to the "integrity of the process," at the opening of Wednesday's
hearing, Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese announced that the Council would give
all the time (rope) he needed. In other words, he could freely play the
DATELINE NBC tape and others along with presenting testimony of
how nearby clubs are allowed to continue breaking the law unabated. But
instead, Fiorentino said nothing about crime
at other clubs. In fact, by the Council giving him all the time he needed
to have done so, the Council all but killed Treasures' chance of getting
a judge to overturn the Council's action.
A judge can now say, "You had full latitude to make a comprehensive
presentation including comparisons of your business with others, but you
didn't take advantage of it."
Fiorentino came to the meeting armed to the teeth with undercover video
surveillance tapes taken in other clubs by Private Investigator Dillard
along with statistics showing far worse crimes than those attributed to
Treasures. Fiorentino instead opted to kiss the Mayor and Council's collective
asses, and keep quiet.
Now the Treasures building may be up for grabs possibly by some "Mr.
Clean Face" who could be a front for the mob, the same mob former criminal
defense attorney Oscar Goodman knows all too well.
I wonder how the Council will treat the next applicant for licensure
of the shuttered Treasures building? Will they also require promises that
are impossible to keep?
Instead of using all the resources they had at their command to defend
themselves, the Davaris fell prey to someone's secret agenda, and lost
big time. Now I hate to say, "I told you so!"
*On August 5, 2004, Councilwoman Janet Moncrief was indicted
on five felony counts. Her political fund raiser, Tom Letizia, is the public
relations consultant for the Crazy Horse Too.
* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas'
scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com