COMMENTARY: Steve Miller

Las Vegas Tribune

October 3, 2001

At sunrise on Thursday morning September 20, two bouncers reportedly threw a young tourist out of the Crazy Horse Too topless bar at 2476 Industrial Road.

The bouncers allegedly beat the man in front of the bar, then robbed him and left one dollar in his wallet.

Then the unspeakable happened. One of the bouncers allegedly grabbed the small-framed man and snapped his neck severing his spinal cord.

Club personnel claim that the man had refused to pay an eighty-eight dollar bar tab leading to his being thrown out. The victim and his companion claim that he paid the bill in full.

The injured man now lies paralyzed in the intensive care unit of a Midwestern hospital with prognoses of spending the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. However, he has been able to tell his story to his family and lawyers. A family spokesperson asked that the Tribune not print his name or hospital location at this time.

Attorneys for the family will hire local council and vow to sue the owners of the Crazy Horse Too. They report that the victim is the father of two small children and may never be able to work again.

The lawsuit is expected to be filed in Federal Court because the family’s attorneys feel that the owner of the topless club, Rick Rizzolo, enjoys too close a relationship with local judges and public officials who are often seen attending parties at his Canyon Gate home.

For example: Rizzolo, a generous political campaign contributor, was recently described as a "Pillar of the community" by Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald; a close friend of the club owner who once lived rent free in a Canyon Gate villa owned by the family of Joey Cusamano, one of Rizzolo’s associates.

It also bears mentioning that Mayor Oscar Goodman was once the defense attorney for Cusamano.

One of the injured man’s attorneys told me that his goal will be to "close the Crazy Horse Too" so another innocent person won’t get hurt. The Las Vegas City Council also has the power to revoke a privileged license - but is not expected to act against the politically influential Rizzolo.

This was not the first brutality complaint against the club.

Last month, District Court Judge Nancy M. Saitta reinstated a Wrongful Death lawsuit brought by the family of Scott David Fau. She had previously dismissed the case but rescheduled trial when new evidence surfaced.

The action was brought after Fau was found beaten to death next to railroad tracks behind the Crazy Horse on Aug. 4, 1995. Two witnesses reported seeing Fau being severely beaten by Crazy Horse employees in the parking lot after he was ejected from the club. The case is now scheduled for jury trial on March 18, 2002.

What makes the Fau case (and others involving the Crazy Horse) very unusual is the lackadaisical attitudes taken - so far - by Metro and District Attorney Stewart Bell.

When Fau's lifeless body was found, police ruled his death was caused by a fall from a moving train. The medical examiner strongly disagreed since there were no abrasions on his body.

There was clear evidence of blunt force trauma to Fau's head and lower body - but there were no indications that he had scraped across the ground after falling from a moving train. Furthermore, there were eyewitnesses to Fau being beaten by club employees. Nonetheless, Metro and District Attorney Stewart Bell still took no action though Judge Saitta found sufficient evidence to schedule a new trial.

In the meantime Stewart Bell has announced his retirement. His protege, David Roger, has announced his candidacy for the DA's post. The only other announced candidate is former Judge Don Chairez who is considered the front-runner. Immediately upon Roger's announcement for DA, political friends of Rizzolo mobilized.

An exclusive report in last week's Tribune described Councilman Michael McDonald hosting David Roger at an event for seniors. It is well known that McDonald takes his marching orders from Rizzolo so it is not surprising that in the face of two horrendous lawsuits and law enforcement investigations, observers speculate that Rizzolo might want his own man as District Attorney.

When it rains, it pours! Since the September 20 incident, three more men have come forward with battery allegations against the Crazy Horse Too. California residents Joel Denney, Mark Bujuklian, and Sean Spanek filed notarized affidavits with Metro last Friday claiming to have been beaten up by bouncers after they complained about being charged $400 for a bottle of champagne in January 2001.

Other Incident Reports regarding alleged assaults at the Crazy Horse are now being investigated by Metro including a report from a former female employee that she had been physically threatened by one of the same bouncers accused of the September 20 beating.

If a pattern of brutal assaults is confirmed by Metro, then Stewart Bell will have no other choice than to begin prosecution on murder, attempted murder, and other charges. The identities of the two bouncers involved in the September 20 incident have been given to Metro and it is reported that Rizzolo has placed both on leave of absence.

A source close to Rizzolo, after hearing of the latest beating, reportedly stated that he did not believe it took place but still wished the club would be more selective in hiring its bouncers.

Rizzolo leases his 26,000 square foot converted warehouse from landlord Renata Schiff. In commercial leases, it is standard practice to include the verbiage "Lessee, shall, during the full term of this lease, and at Lessee's sole cost and expense, maintain public liability and property damage insurance naming Lessor as an additional insured thereon."

Rizzolo's insurance carrier will most likely pay for the defense of the two lawsuits, but if damages in excess of his coverage are awarded, his landlady could be exposed to possible liability. If this were to occur, such exposure most likely would violate the Crazy Horse's lease.

One of Rizzolo's associates was reported saying Friday that the damages in the latest case could exceed "Forty-million dollars!"

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. Visit his website at: http://www.SteveMiller4LasVegas.com