Inside Las Vegas
The plot thickens Rizzolo's sentencing delayed one week.
Council grants 90 day extension in face of multiple violations.
What in Hell is going on?
By Steve Miller, AmericanMafia.com
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Was supposed Crazy Horse Too ownerMichael Signorelli serious when he claimed at this week's City Councilmeeting that he would stop paying $70 per customer to the cabbies?Let's recap:
Signorelli'snot paying his rent to ousted boss Rick Rizzolo, who isn't paying hisdebt to paralyzed customer Kirk Henry, who must be having troublepaying the rent on his house these days. Is anyone paying attention?"
- John L. Smith, LVReview-Journal, 01/19/07
LAS VEGAS - Since 1999, I've been completely accurate on thisimportant subject though I feel like a voice in the wilderness.
Several East Coast and Mid West mob families are fighting to remain incontrol of the Vegas strip club rackets, and some of them have a verypowerfulally.
For months I've suspected that former mob attorney-cumMayor Oscar Goodman has been working behind the scenes to facilitatethe re-opening and continued operation of his former and presentmob client's topless bar, the Crazy Horse Too.
Before the City Council shut the place down last summer, I correctlyanticipated Goodman would change hats from Mayor back to mob lawyer andcovertly step in to help the criminals who made him rich. I even wentso far as to file a complaintwith the state EthicsCommission to stop Goodman from participating in future discussions andvotes to re-open the place after its' owner and former Goodman lawclient RickRizzolo and 16 of his thugswere convicted of racketeering and tax evasion. But that didn't stopthe Mayor's effortsbehind the scenes to re-open the mobbed uptopless bar. Meanwhile, he's running unopposed for his thirdterm, and the local media is sadly downplaying the importance of thisstory, possibly because Rizzolo is a degenerategambler who blows millions each year on the Strip, and Goodman isexpected to spend over a million dollars in political ad buys for hisuncontested campaign.
Firstit was Goodman's lackey Jim DiFiore, the city's Director of BusinessActivity, who twice appeared at Council meetings with suspected frontman Mike Signorelli. DiFiore recommended Signorelli be granted atemporary liquor license to re-open the club prior to receiving the goahead from the LV Metro Police Department - something totallyunprecedented.
Metro usually takes up to six months to complete a comprehensivebackground investigation of any liquor license applicant, especiallysomeone who wants to re-open a bar that was shut down for extorting andbeating its' customers. But DiFiore (onGoodman's orders?)couldn't wait for an investigation, and assured the Council it would beOK to grant athirty-day temporary license on his word there were no areasof concern with the background of Mr. Signorelli who was described as asuccessful gaming entrepreneur who was also bidding to buy the RivieraHotel.
Seeming overly impressed, the Council asked no questions and dutifullygranted the temporary license, andthe bar that CityAttorney Brad Jerbic described as a "publicnuisance," and the U.S.Department of justice called a "threatto the community" was re-licensedagainst the wishes of Federal officials. Becauseof this, a giant can of worms was opened that the City Council can nolonger close. And re-closing the Crazy Horse was made that muchmore difficult.
It was soon discovered that Signorelli was a bankruptcy artist whotwice in 15 years filed for protection from his debtors. Though he hasno police record, his financial background is very questionable.Signorelli in 2000 was involved in aclassaction lawsuit based on allegations he stole health insurancepremiums from his employees at one of his bankrupt businesses; a casinoin Mesquite that shut down one year after opening.
Then it was disclosed his bid to buy the Riviera was turned downbecause he could not produce a financial statement. This, after theCity Councilbelieved his line that he had the $45 million to buy the CrazyHorse, and in the meantime would pay Rizzolo $400,000 per month --$14,000 perday rent!
In spite of this, no red flags were raised by the City Council orFederal Court.
U.S. Federal Court Chief Judge Philip M. Pro last June ordered theCrazy Horse be sold by June 2007, but warned against selling it to anyLa Cosa Nostra interest.
At least one qualified buyer offered to buythe business and real estate, but Rizzolo killed the deal in favor ofSignorelli. The Federal Court has yet to comment on Rizzolo'schoice of buyer, but the Court must approve the sale by this June, orplace thebusiness and real estate in receivership.
At an abbreviated hearing last Tuesday, Judge Pro rescheduled Rizzolo'ssentencing on his conviction for racketeering and tax evasion to thisTuesday at 9 AM. He did this after accepting a motion in limine to reconsider hisprevious decision based on a newly submitted declaration andmemorandum. It's not yet known what's contained in the declaration andmemorandum.
After being allowed to reopen the Crazy Horse last October, Signorelli,against the City Council's orders, continuedemploying three of Rizzolo's immediate family members as his manager,assistant manager, and book keeper. After I informed the Council ofthe relatives still working there, a specialhearing was called. At the November hearing, Signorelli tried toexplain he was toobusy to check the last names of his key employees.
The Council groveled and let him stay open, but only after a harshadmonishment from Councilman Steve Ross and Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese.You'd think he'd get the hint, but Signorelli was soon having todefend himself again.
Ninety days have elapsed since the bar re-opened, and last WednesdaySignorelli was back before the Council to ask for another 90 dayextension of histemporary liquor license. That's when it looked like the Councilmembers might get the balls to shut him down.
To bolster my suspicion that Goodman waspulling the strings from his office on the tenth floor of City Hall,and from his law firm on Fourth Street, JimDiFiorewas conspicuous by his absence at Wednesday's hearing after Iwrote about him in INSIDE VEGAS. But that didn't stop the covert helpfrom pouring in, possibly all the way from Washington, D.C.
At the January 17 Council meeting, Signorelli/Rizzolo rolled out a muchbigger gun than DiFiore in the form of Mayor Oscar Goodman'sbusiness and law partner Jay Brown -- Mike Signorelli's newattorney.
(Since Signorelli took over the club, business has fallen to a trickle,and it's highly questionable that he's personally paying for Brown'sservices. )
Besidesbeing the Mayor's crony; a noted political campaign fund raiser; and Democratic Whip, U.S. Senator Harry Reid'sbusiness partner, Jay Brown has another giant conflict of interest inrepresenting the Crazy Horse.
Brown, whose name has surfaced over the years in organized-crimeinvestigations, last month consulted for ninety minutes with Floridanight club mogul AthanasiosKaraholiosand his attorney. Prior to Signorelli entering the picture, Karaholios,32,had made a higher bid onthe Crazy Horse, but was turned down when he reportedlyrefused toinclude Rizzolo as a silent partner.ReviewJournal photo by ClintKarlson
After spendingthousands of dollars on an appraisal, environmental report,travel, and other related expenses, Karaholios, better known as TommyKaras, suedSignorelli and Rizzolo for racketeering and fraud.
After hearing the ultimatum that Rizzolo must remain as a secretpartner inthe deal, and not knowing the local landscape or political players, Karaholios and hisCalifornia attorney made abeeline to theGoodman Law Group on Fourth Street thinking they might find a reputablelocal attorney. There they met with Jay Brown who reportedly did notreveal that heand Goodmanwere once the corporateResidentAgents for Rizzolo's "THE POWER COMPANY, INC."
During their consultation, Karaholiosrevealed to Brown all his evidence andstrategy related to a then-proposed Federal lawsuit againstSignorelli and Rizzolo. After seeingthis confidential information, Brown reportedly offered to represent Karaholios foraretainer of $30,000. Karaholios declined Brown'soffer, hired different counsel, and went on to sue Signorelli andRizzolo.
However, now armed with Karaholios' privilegedinformation and strategies,Brown signed onas Signorelli's attorney! This is an obvious violation of the NevadaState Bar Rules of Professional Conduct.
Prior to last Wednesday'sCouncil meeting, upon my suggestion, Signorelli was asked to producecanceled checks with bank stamps showing dates of deposit toprovehe was paying $400,000 per month rent. He could not do so.
He was also asked to provide proof he placed a $300,000 deposit inescrow, and to prove he personally financed the expenses for re-openingthe business including purchase of liquor, and a cash reserve. He alsocould not do so, but under pressure admitted that Rizzolo fronted himthe money!
The conditions he admitted to not complying with are clearly spelledout in a CONFIDENTIALPurchase Agreement obtained by INSIDE VEGAS, which I shared withall Council members before last Wednesday's hearing.
Knowingthe Council and local media now have copies of his previouslyCONFIDENTIALdocument, Signorelliand his new attorney had no choice but to tell the truth. He was notpaying rent, and Rizzolo fronted him the start up money!
But that's not all that should have triggered a red flag. It was alsodisclosed that Signorelli was violating city and county lawsthat prohibit businesses from bribing taxi and limo drivers forconvincing customers to come to their place of business.
Click hereto see Signorelli and Brown nervously tell the Council that things werenot as they were supposed to be. Click on "Jump to," and go to Item #51.
After Signorelli admitted he could not afford to pay rent because hewas being extorted out of hundreds of thousand of dollars each week byunscrupulous taxi and limo drivers, I expected one of the Councilmembers to ask if this illegally paid money should instead be going tobeating victim Kirk Henry whose neck was broken in 2001 by a CrazyHorse manager, and has since been awarded $10 million dollars by theFederal Court, and hasn't received a dime!
But the question was never asked because Henry's attorney DonaldCampbell was nowhere to be found to make the obvious inquiry, andHenry's beating has been used by Signorelli/Rizzolo's attorneys toelicit sympathy to convince the City Council and Federal Court to letthe place stay open long enough to be sold to generate the $10 millionneeded to pay Henry's life-long medical bills and other neglectedexpenses such as his mortgage.
However, it's now obvious Rizzolo has no intention of paying his legalobligations, especially to Henry.
Not one cent has been paid to Henry, nor have the legal fees been paidto Campbell and his partner Stan Hunterton for the excellent work theydid to expose Rizzolo and his criminal enterprise. This begs thequestion: where is attorney Donald Campbell when KirkHenry needs him?
FormerFederal Prosecutor-now private attorneyDonald Campbell could blow this wide open if he wanted to. But where ishe?
WhileHenry's health continues to deteriorate, and his familyis impoverished by Rizzolo's legal stonewalling, Rick Rizzolo lastTuesday left the courthouse with a smile on his face.
After all this, the question remains as to why Judge Pro doesn'tliquidate the personal assets Rizzolofraudulently transferred to his ex-wife Lisa in a bogusdivorce on the eveofhis indictment.
Meanwhile, the City Council dug themselves into a holeby believing Jim DiFiore'srecommendation that Signorelli be granted a temporary liquor license.Now the Council is forced to give the police 90days to finish their investigation of someone who is obviously a strawman for Rizzolo et .al. In the meantime, the place is probablybeing skimmed to death.
And they said the mob left Vegas years ago...
Copyright © 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. Miller writes internationally syndicated columns on organized crime and political corruption for Rick Porrello's AmericanMafia.com: Visit his website at: SteveMiller4LasVegas.com. Steve can be reached at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com
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