The Chicago Syndicate: Rick Rizzolo
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Rick Rizzolo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rick Rizzolo. Show all posts

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Crime and Corruption in Present day Las Vegas: An Interview with Steve Miller

John L. Smith, a columnist at the Las Vegas Review Journal, once described Rick Rizzolo, the former owner of Las Vegas strip club the Crazy Horse Too, as an “affable wiseguy, high-rolling gambler, and former soft touch for politicians.” The one-time strip club owner has been described as a friend of Las Vegas’ current mayor, Oscar Goodman, as well as other authorities in Sin City. Steve Miller, a prolific journalist and well known figure in Las Vegas began investigating Rizzolo in 1999, when the strip club owner managed to obtain approval for the expansion for his business, even when he’d already implemented the changes and opened to the public. Casino Online spoke to the journalist about crime, corruption and celebrity status in Sin City.

Miller first began investigating Rizzolo when the strip club owner opened a new, extended bar “without a building permit; additional parking spaces; traffic plan; or certificate of occupancy from the fire department”. To still be legally allowed to open any sort of public entertainment venue without any of these requirements would usually be impossible and Miller became interested about just how Rizzolo had obtained the permission of officials such as former Las Vegas Councilman Michael McDonald. For the past eleven years, Miller has documented the exploits of Rizzolo and his council cohorts (McDonald wasn’t re-elected in 2003 and it has since been discovered he was receiving kickbacks of $5,000 a month from Rizzolo) and has collected his findings on In 2000, Rizzolo attempted to sue Miller for libel, but undaunted, Miller knew that the truth would prevail. However, as he told us, Rizzolo hasn’t left him alone: Over the past few years, the journalist has “received several written death threats and shared them with the police and FBI”.

Miller soon found that Rizzolo’s influence and danger to Las Vegas citizens extended far beyond his ability to wine and dine councilmen though. In October 2001, Kirk Henry had his neck broken by a bouncer at Rizzolo’s strip club, over an $80 bar tab. Henry, who has been paralysed since the attack, sued Rizzolo for attempted murder. Rizzolo denied that Henry had suffered a beating from one of his employees, suggesting in a letter to the Las Vegas Tribune that Henry merely “tripped”. Five years later, the Las Vegas Attorney’s Office revoked Rizzolo’s liquor license and, as part of a plea deal, Rizzolo and his employees “admitted to tax fraud, conspiracy to participate in racketeering and seeking to extort payment from club patrons”. The Las Vegas City Council also issued Rizzolo with a $2.192 million fine and, as part of his plea agreement, Rizzolo vowed to pay the Henry's $10 million in compensation. In 2007, Rizzolo was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, but since being released, the Henry’s have received just $1 million from Rizzolo's insurance company (not from Rizzolo personally) and are still waiting on the remaining millions owed to them. When asked why Rizzolo has managed to avoid paying the couple what he owes them (some would argue he owes them a lot, lot more) Miller suggested that he has “long believed Rizzolo has bought protection over the years and that Mr. Henry's case is being stalled by those subservient to Rizzolo until Henry either dies or settles for pennies on the dollar”.

Critics have suggested that Rizzolo’s connections have meant that the former club owner has managed to steer clear of major punishment. When you consider that Mayor Oscar Goodman used to be employed as his legal representative, it could be suggested that Rizzolo’s influence is far-reaching. Miller alleges that Goodman still has links to Rizzolo, suggesting that “Goodman, through his son's and business partner's law firms, is still representing mob figures including Rizzolo.” It may seem odd that voters would elect a man who’s been heavily involved with mob figures such as Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and Frank Cullotta, as well as Rick Rizzolo, but Miller believes Las Vegas residents just aren’t taking their politics seriously. Miller proposes that Vegas citizens “often vote for those with the highest name recognition like Goodman”. Miller, clearly jaded by the dirty politics of his city, suggests he has witnessed “time and again the stupidity of the average Las Vegas voter with who they continue to elect to public office, then treat the politician like a rock star afterwards, no matter how crooked the elected official may become.” It should be made clear that while Miller has his doubts about Goodman, the mayor has been credited with regenerating the city and has been described by Ed Koch, a journalist at The Las Vegas Sun, as a “stickler for parliamentary procedure”.

When asked about Mayor Oscar Goodman’s plans to open the “Mob Museum”, a forthcoming attraction in Las Vegas which will document “organized crime and law enforcement as each confronted the other”, it’s obvious that Miller sees the exhibition as merely a vanity project for the mayor. The journalist proposes that he’s ashamed “of having to live in a town (Miller makes it clear that Las Vegas hasn’t matured enough to be called a city) that would take public funds to glamorize the former (and current) clients of a mob lawyer-turned-mayor. The Mob Museum will do nothing to attract new, clean, high tech industry to Las Vegas, and will serve to further embarrass local residents who have long tried to show a better face for our town.”

While those of us outside of Las Vegas may see the mob as part of the city’s dark past, for Miller and others campaigning to clean up corruption, it’s still a daily part of their lives. Perhaps what’s most disturbing is Miller’s admission that casinos in Las Vegas now “mainly serve as drug money laundries for the mob” and “condone the use of massage parlors and escort services because such enterprises discourage gamblers from leaving the tables for more than an hour or so.” While the term, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” may seem to most of us a reference to losses in a casino and perhaps over-indulgence when it comes to alcoholic refreshments, for Miller, the phrase holds much darker connotations.

Courtesy of

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chicago Glitterati to Host Fund-Raiser for Former Union Boss with Reputed Mob Ties

Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Former union boss Bill Hogan is going to get some help paying staggering legal bills from a federal legal battle.

  • To wit: A host of Chicago glitterati are planning a fund-raiser March 24 at O'Brien's restaurant, which will be headlined by actor James Belushi and former Chicago Bear Richard Dent and be hosted by -- amongst others -- William Marovitz, Jimmy Piersall, Lucy Salenger, Jerry Roper, Arny Granat, Marvin Zonis, Steve Lombardo, Phil Stefani, Grant DePorter, Teddy Ratner, Father John Smyth, Christie Hefner and retired union leader Tom Fitzgibbon.
  • Background: Hogan, who was expelled in 2002 and banned from associating with Teamsters, is battling contempt charges for continuing to speak to Teamster members. He claims his freedom of speech has been violated

That's an impressive list of Chicago establishment types coming to the aid of a someone who has ties to the Chicago Mob. Here's more from the Chicago Sun-Times of January 10, 2005:

  • the reputed mob associates who have belonged to Local 714, such as Hogan pal Nick Boscarino, Bill Hogan Jr. attended a 2001 private party in Las Vegas held by Rick Rizzolo, a Las Vegas strip club owner who may have ties to organized crime figures, and Rocco Lombardo, whom the FBI identifies as a Chicago gangster, documents show.
  • In an interview this past fall, Hogan acknowledged visiting that restaurant but not for a private party with those men, whom he said he doesn't know.
  • The Teamsters' investigative squad urged a government-sanctioned group called the Independent Review Board to investigate further and decide if another "trusteeship" is warranted.

Would you want to hand Card Check to these guys?

Thanks to Steve Bartin

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Former Las Vegas Strip Club Owner Compared to Tony "The Ant" Spilotro

Federal prosecutors never got a chance to prove a criminal case tying former Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo to the mob.

Before that could happen, Rizzolo pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 2006 and struck a deal to end a decadelong racketeering case against him. But that didn’t stop Stan Hunterton, a former prosecutor with the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force, from keeping allegations of Rizzolo’s underworld associations alive during a hearing in federal court Friday on the status of the government’s efforts to sell the topless club it had seized from the imprisoned Rizzolo.

“Not since the reign of Anthony Spilotro and his associates has there been a more infamous hoodlum than Rick Rizzolo,” Hunterton told U.S. District Judge Philip Pro as Rizzolo’s father, Bart Rizzolo, cringed in the first row of the courtroom gallery.

Spilotro, the basis for Joe Pesci’s character in the 1995 movie “Casino,” ran street rackets in Las Vegas for the Chicago mob from the early 1970s until his gangland slaying in a Chicago suburb in 1986. He was considered a coldblooded killer, and before his death he was the FBI’s most wanted man in Las Vegas.

Hunterton represents Amy Henry, the wife of Kirk Henry, a Kansas City-area man who suffered a broken neck and became paralyzed following a fight in 2001 at the Crazy Horse Too. As part of Rizzolo’s plea arrangement with the government, he agreed to pay the Henrys $10 million to settle a civil suit they had brought against the nightclub.

What Hunterton was doing in court was challenging an effort by Sierra Pacific Bank to foreclose on the land beneath the Crazy Horse Too. The bank wants the land as payment for a $5 million loan it extended to Rizzolo seven months before he struck his deal with the government. Hunterton wants to make sure the bank’s claim against the property won’t hurt the Henrys’ chances of getting paid once money comes in from the government’s sale of the Crazy Horse Too.

He raised the specter of mob connections while arguing that Sierra Pacific was negligent when it lent Rizzolo the $5 million when he was under the well-publicized racketeering investigation. Hunterton contends that bank officials either turned a blind eye to Rizzolo’s reputation or failed miserably in their due diligence obligations.

Hunterton told Pro he would drop his effort to push the bank’s claim aside if, as prosecutors reported in court, the government signs a contract this week to sell the Crazy Horse Too for $30 million to an undisclosed buyer. If that happens, there will be plenty of money for all of Rizzolo’s creditors.

After the hearing, however, Rizzolo’s lawyer, Mark Hafer, wasn’t very happy.

Hafer described Hunterton’s comments about his client as “somewhat slanderous” and “definitely a cheap shot.”

All Bart Rizzolo could do was shake his head in disgust.

Thanks to Jeff German

70% Off Las Vegas Hotels at Last Minute Travel!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Joey the Clown's Brother Gets Probation

Friends of ours: Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Rocco Lombardo
Friends of mine: Rick Rizzolo

The brother of reputed mob boss Joey "the Clown" Lombardo was sentenced Wednesday to 60 months' probation for conspiracy in a tax fraud scheme centered at a strip club in Las Vegas.

Sixteen individuals, including Lombardo's brother Rocco, have pleaded guilty to the conspiracy scheme for underreporting cash they received while working at the Crazy Horse Too strip club.

The case stems from a lengthy federal investigation of the strip club and owner Ricky Rizzolo. Rizzolo formerly owned and managed a Chicago strip club also known as the Crazy Horse Too. He was paid as much as $240,000 to manage the club here, according to court records.

Joey Lombardo has pleaded innocent in Chicago to racketeering charges that accuse him of murder and extortion. He was arrested last year after nine months in hiding following his indictment.

Rizzolo and Rocco Lombardo would dine with Joey Lombardo when Rizzolo came to Chicago on business, court records show. And when Joey Lombardo disappeared, FBI agents went looking for him in Las Vegas.

In court filings, John Spilotro, the attorney for Rocco Lombardo, argued that a probation report linking him to his brother was unfair. He asked the court to delete a reference to Joey Lombardo as being the head of the Chicago Outfit and his arrest on the pending federal charges in Chicago.

Spilotro asked the judge for probation for Rocco, citing his lack of involvement in prior criminal activity, his age, and his deteriorating health.

Rocco Lombardo, 71, was known as a body builder and health-food advocate, according to lawyers. He once operated a restaurant in Melrose Park called "Rocky's" and served as a floor manager at the Las Vegas club.

Last month, Rizzolo was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for his role in the tax fraud. His plea agreement required him to sell the business and pay nearly $17 million in fines and restitution.

Thanks to Ray Gibson

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Heat Surrounds Sheriff For Alleged Mob Association

Friends of mine: Rick Rizzolo, Freddie Glusman

A candidate for Orange County sheriff called Thursday for the resignation of Sheriff Mike Carona in the wake of a published report and photos showing Carona in a cozy pose with a man identified as a mob associate.

Ralph Martin, a commander in the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and an Orange County resident, is one of two current and one retired law enforcement officers running against Carona in the June 6 primary.

Martin said an article in the O.C. Weekly and accompanying photos show Carona smiling while the arm of Rick Rizzolo, a man the FBI has called a mob associate, is draped over Carona's shoulder. Carona is in uniform.

The article also contains photos of Carona with Freddie Glusman, owner of the Ritz restaurant in Newport Beach and Piero's in Las Vegas, and Gary Primm, owner of a Nevada casino. Both Glusman and Primm, according to the Weekly, are Carona contributors and were sworn in as departmental reserve deputies before they were cleared through background checks. Michael Schroeder, campaign advisor for Carona, could not be reached for immediate comment.

Martin said he saw the pictures Wednesday for the first time. "Rick Rizzolo is a known Mafia associate," Martin said. "He owns a strip club up in Vegas and he has a criminal background."

The picture, he said, was taken at the Ritz restaurant in Newport Beach, "during some ceremony. We know the sheriff is in uniform, and (it is) obviously a social gathering. They look to be pretty close here."

Pointing to another photo, Martin said Carona is "in the middle giving deputy reserve sheriff's badges to Glusman, who likes to associate with the Mafia especially at his (Newport Beach) restaurant and another one in Vegas."

Martin said Glusman likes to host a clientele that is known to law enforcement officers. "His places are hangouts for known mobsters," Martin said. Martin said he does not know of any criminal background for Primm. "I don't know if he has one," Martin said. "What I saw today was really over the top for Orange County's sheriff," Martin said of the photos. Organized crime agents, according to the Weekly, say the Rizzolo posed for the shot at the Ritz sometime between 2002-04.

Rizzolo, according to investigators, is tied to Chicago and New York organized crime families, and has been described by the Las Vegas Review Journal as a target of an ongoing corruption probe.

The Orange County Register reported in November that Carona accepted a contribution of $1,500 from Rizzolo, and Carona's media consultants acknowledged the men met two or three times.

Two weeks ago, according to the Weekly, Carona's spokesmen said they were "clueless" about Rizzolo's occupation and mob ties.

Glusman, according to the Weekly, flashed his sheriff's badge during a parking space dispute with a former officer, who reported it to police. Glusman resigned before an internal affairs investigation was completed, the Weekly reported.

Carona drew criticism for appointing political allies to reserve deputy positions in 1999 over the objections of the department's own background investigators. According to published reports, Carona appointed 86 allies, friends and relatives to the reserve program, before background checks were completed and days before the state stiffened training requirements. They were later removed from the state's peace officer database after it was determined the checks were incomplete, but the Sheriff's Department allowed the reservists to keep their badges and in some cases, department-issued guns.

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported that a handgun belonging to a reserve Orange County sheriff's deputy turned up at the mansion of the former video game executive accused of crashing a Ferrari in Malibu in February.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies confiscated the gun during a raid at the Bel-Air home of Bo Stefan Eriksson, who faces grand theft, embezzlement and driving under the influence charges related to the accident, and detectives were trying to determine how Eriksson came in possession of the weapon.

A sheriff's department spokesman told The Times that the .357 magnum Smith & Wesson was registered to Roger A. Davis, a Newport Beach businessman and deputy with the Orange County sheriff's professional services division.

Davis was issued a permit to carry a concealed weapon by the Orange County Sheriff's Department in August 2002 for protection, and detectives were still trying to sort out Davis' connection to Eriksson.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, said the gun was a key piece of evidence. Prosecutors have charged Eriksson with a weapons violation because, as a convicted felon, he is not allowed to possess a firearm.

Martin said the article and photos are "really more a reflection of the failed reserve program that (Carona) calls the professional services reserve program."

"These names have been around, but we've never realized at this point that they were sworn in," Martin said.

Martin said Carona, within the last six months, returned the $1,500 donation from Rizzolo. "If any of (Carona's) deputies were found to be associated with any criminals and internal affairs investigation would be launched and they would be disciplined and terminated," Martin said.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Chicago Mob, Vegas, Celebrities, Is there a movie here?

Friends of ours: Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, "Johnny Green" Faraci, Bonnano Crime Family, Tony "the ant" Spilotro
Friends of mine: Rick Rizzolo, Rocco Lombardo, Vincent Faraci, Joey Cusumano

Some should call Hollywood if they have not already and see what they can come up with regarding the Mobster-Celebrity Strip Club Probe . I can help with casting.

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


Affliction Sale

Flash Mafia Book Sales!