The Chicago Syndicate: Reports of Rick Rizzolo Dining with the Chicago Outfit's Joey "The Clown" Lombardo Should Close Doors of Crazy Horse Too Strip Club #LasVegas #Chicago
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Friday, July 22, 2005

Reports of Rick Rizzolo Dining with the Chicago Outfit's Joey "The Clown" Lombardo Should Close Doors of Crazy Horse Too Strip Club #LasVegas #Chicago

Mob-watchers from here to Chicago are buzzing over the news that organized crime members dined and discussed ways by which they might profit from a casino development in Rosemont, Ill.

Joey "the Clown" Lombardo was at the head of the table, at least metaphorically speaking, when the meal and meeting occurred in May 1999 at Armand's restaurant in a Chicago suburb, according to an FBI informant who monitored the supper.

Lombardo was there along with several mob soldiers, according to the recent testimony of Chicago FBI organized crime squad supervisor John Mallul, who spoke at an Illinois gaming hearing. The meeting supposedly included controversial Rosemont Mayor Donald Stephens, a charge he vehemently has denied.

Informant skinny is often inaccurate, but until it's refuted the development is damning. It makes it appear that traditional organized crime was involved in the creation of the Emerald casino project.

One element of the story isn't much in doubt: A face in the crowd at the Lombardo dinner was Crazy Horse Too topless club owner Rick Rizzolo. You might know Rizzolo as the hail-fellow-well-met who for many years has contributed heavily to political campaigns. That is, until one of his executives was indicted and his club came under FBI and IRS investigative scrutiny.

The protestations of Rizzolo's attorneys aside, his close friend, Al Rapuano, already has admitted under oath in a civil deposition that he and Rizzolo attended a dinner with Lombardo. Rapuano didn't specifically name Armand's in May 1999, but I presume the point of this exercise is the organized crime link, not whether they like their steaks medium rare.

Rizzolo evaded questions about the Lombardo connection from attorney Stan Hunterton during a deposition this week, but the Rapuano confirmation is rock solid. The Lombardo-Rizzolo link is an element of a story the Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported May 1.

If Rizzolo held a gaming license, he'd be toast. Although the adult license is considered privileged in Southern Nevada, this side of criminal convictions it's rare to see a licensee lose the privilege of selling overpriced booze to gawking tourists and having skinny girls dance with their tops off.

It's also no crime to chew the fat with the Godfather, as long as you're not paying him tribute and he doesn't secretly have a piece of your topless club.

It does, however, tend to make a laughing stock out of the City Council and Metro licensing investigators who, at least in theory, are supposed to keep the wiseguy element out of our proliferating girlie rackets. Let's just say they've fallen short of the mark on this one.

Authorities would like to call Lombardo to have him confirm the meeting, but that's not possible. He's made himself scarce since being indicted in a separate, murder-riddled RICO case. He's currently wearing funny-nose glasses, calling himself John Smith or some other obvious alias, and I guess Rizzolo's friend and former employee Rocco Lombardo, Joey's brother, doesn't know where to look for him.

Hanging with an infamous mob boss, albeit one who in 1999 had paid his societal debts, is pretty cavalier for a man whose license to practice T&A in Las Vegas is revocable. Who knows, maybe Rizzolo was picking up pointers from Lombardo on how to deal with local politicians. ("Gee, Mr. L., should I purchase them one at a time, or save money by buying in bulk?" "Well, Rick, it's been my experience that it pays to stock up on politicians for use at a later time.")

Allowing Rizzolo to continue to operate in the face of all this controversy and the promise of a federal indictment makes the City Council look particularly weak.

News reports don't equate to felony charges, and no realistic person expects the gentlemen's club racket actually to be run by gentlemen, but Rizzolo's cover as the bon vivant of the silicone circuit pretty much has been blown to pieces by his mob connections.

Unless Rizzolo bought tickets to a "Goodfellas" fantasy weekend, breaking bread with a big-time gangster should be more than enough to close the Crazy Horse Too.

Thanks to John L. Smith.

More from John L. Smith

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