Crazy Horse Too articles in the Philadelphia Daily News - Nov. 5 - Dec. 22, 2005

Philadelphia Daily News
November 5, 2005


LOOK OUT, South Philly - Sin City is moving in.

Despite outrage from the community and politicians, an imported Vegas strip club is under construction on the southern tip of Columbus Boulevard.

Called Crazy Horse Too, it's a massive, flashy establishment that has had run-ins with the feds in Vegas. Its owner is reportedly connected to the mob.

"We're oversaturated with adult entertainment. We don't need and we don't want it," said Robert C. Blackburn, president of the local community group, the Whitman Council Neighorhood Advisory Committee.

"We are against establishments like that in our neighborhood," he said.

State Sen. Vincent Fumo has joined the battle against Crazy Horse, trying to get its liquor license investigated. But the Liquor Control Board claims there are no grounds.

So construction continues on the desolate industrial site on Columbus Boulevard below Oregon Avenue. A large brick building with white-framed windows is already up. The Crazy Horse Web site touts a January opening.

The club did not return calls from the Daily News for comment.

Crazy Horse Too in Vegas is a 24-hour complex staffed by 1,500 women that makes roughly $1 million a month, according to a recent Las Vegas Sun story.

But not all of that money may be clean.

Last January, a club manager was indicted and charged with federal racketeering and tax charges. The indictment alleges that club employees extorted money from customers through threats.

And while Crazy Horse Too's owner, Rick Rizzolo, has not been hit with any charges, he is under investigation for federal racketeering and tax evasion, according to the Las Vegas press.

Rizzolo has also repeatedly been accused of being linked to the Mafia. A Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist recently reported that Rizzolo had been at an organized-crime dinner in Chicago over the summer, attended by mob boss Joey "the Clown" Lombardo.

Industry sources say the South Philly site has been owned unofficially for several years by a Romeo Coscia, of Chester Springs, Pa.

Coscia's name doesn't show up on the titles or liquor licenses - family members and other connections are listed - likely because court records show that he has a prison record. But sources said he was the decision-maker for the property.

He has been shopping around a strip club project on the site for years, sources said. And Crazy Horse came into the picture at least a year ago.

No working phone number could be found for Coscia.

Thus far, the neighbors have not been able to do much about the club, Blackburn said.

"We're told they have all their paperwork in order," he explained. "By the time we found out about it, they had the liquor license."

Fumo sent a letter to the Liquor Control Board asking that it review the establishment's license and schedule a hearing for community complaints.

"Neighbors have concerns about the type of establishment proposed for this location, as well as the character of those in control of the license," reads the Oct. 12 letter.

But the board replied that there were no grounds to re-examine the licensee. There is no ongoing investigation into the license or the club, a spokeswoman said.

Fumo's spokesman, Gary "it's not a Tuma" Tuma, said the senator was still considering his options regarding the club.

"He's hopeful that as more information becomes available, the board may choose to reconsider," Tuma said.

State Rep. William Keller is also opposed to the club. He thinks there could be a better use for the land.

"I think that's prime port industrial land," he said. "I think we need to preserve all land south of the Walt Whitman Bridge."

Blackburn said his group would support any efforts against the club.

"We're absolutely dead-set against it," he said.

Copyright (c) 2005 Philadelphia Daily News

Philadelphia Daily News
November 22, 2005

Strip club draws neighborhood ire

Community activists and politicians vowed yesterday to try to shut down the Vegas strip club under construction in South Philly.

"We won't go quietly," vowed Bob Blackburn, president of the Whitman Council Neighborhood Advisory Committee, after a press conference held a few blocks from the construction site.

Blackburn called for an emergency meeting with Mayor Street to discuss the club, Crazy Horse Too, which is under construction on Columbus Boulevard below Oregon Avenue. The club's Web site advertises a January opening.

A meeting with the mayor was not scheduled yesterday.

But mayoral spokesman Joe Grace said the office would listen to concerns.

"We will wait to hear from the community group and the district Council person, and we'll listen to their concerns very carefully," he said.

The Daily News reported yesterday that a club manager has been charged with federal offenses and that the owner has alleged Mafia ties.

Blackburn was joined at the conference by state Rep. William Keller, William McLaughlin of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, and aides to state Sen. Vincent Fumo and Council President Anna Verna.

Fumo has written the Liquor Control Board asking it to reinvestigate the club's liquor license.

Fumo aide Robert Theil said the LCB had told Fumo's office yesterday that it planned to refer the case to the state police.

"If they can't have a liquor license, they can't go forward," said Theil. "Hopefully at the end of the day, this will be stopped."

And McLaughlin said the Port Authority opposes the use of the land for a strip bar.

"It is utterly inappropriate," he said, noting that the Port Authority plans to see if it can supercede the zoning for the club.

Rep. Keller also said he believes there's a better use for the land.

"We've been opposed to this from day one," he said. "Anything that robs us of port land."

A call to Crazy Horse Too in Las Vegas was not returned yesterday.

A club manager was indicted in January on federal racketeering and tax-violation charges. The club's owner, Rick Rizzolo, allegedly has mob ties, according to the Las Vegas press.

llustration: PHOTO


State Rep. Bill Keller lists reasons why Crazy Horse Too club is not welcome in his district.

Copyright (c) 2005 Philadelphia Daily News

Philadelphia Daily News
December 22, 2005


AS A board member of the Whitman Council Neighborhood Advisory Committee, I can say that Catherine Lucey's article (Here's Some Nudes For You, Nov. 21) was right on target. There is outrage and opposition to the opening of Crazy Horse Too, a new gentleman's club in the Whitman section of Philadelphia.

The Liquor Control Board claims there are no grounds to investigate the establishments liquor license. What greater grounds, than opposition from the people who matter the most, the residents who reside in the community?

I applaud the efforts of Sen. Vincent Fumo for promptly responding to the community's complaints, and hopefully, with his help and the combined efforts of the Whitman Council, the Liquor Control Board will reconsider.

Crazy Horse Too is an import from Las Vegas, and while this type of establishment may be common in Las Vegas and even welcomed in Sin City - it is not welcomed in the Whitman section of South Philadelphia!

Fred Druding, Jr.
Board Member

Whitman Council

Copyright (c) 2005 Philadelphia Daily News

Philadelphia Magazine
Naked Ambition
By Richard Rys
October 2006

Allusions to "shakedowns" don't sit well with general manager John Drace, who left Crazy Horse Too in Vegas after 16 years to help his uncle, club founder Rick Rizzolo, get this franchise up and running. "It was a promotion for me, an opportunity to get my family out of Vegas," he says from behind his desk in a bare office no fancier than the average cubicle. "The city's on a big upswing. There's a lot of potential." He sees dollar signs, but knows that with cash comes corruption: In June, Rizzolo pleaded guilty to tax fraud as part of a sweeping federal racketeering investigation in which 16 employees were snared, including Drace, who also copped to a tax offense.

If Crazy Horse feels a bit behind the eight ball, it's because of what happened out West when "Vegas style" got ugly. In the early morning of September 20, 2001, Kansas businessman Kirk Henry disputed a charge for $88.25. According to his lawsuit, a club bouncer responded by snapping his neck, prompting this condemnation from Henry's lawyers, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "For years, the management and ‘security' staff of the Crazy Horse has been infested by a rogues' gallery of thugs, thieves, drug pushers, and corrupt ex-cops. Most, if not all, have well-documented ties to organized crime figures who frequent the premises. All of this has nurtured a culture of violence marked by robberies, beatings and even death."

As part of Rizzolo's plea agreement on June 1st, he and his company admitted that customers were bullied, and in some cases beaten, into paying fraudulent charges, and Rizzolo and Crazy Horse must donate $10 million to Henry, who's now a paraplegic. Rizzolo has to sell his Vegas club by next summer. He's also barred from any involvement in adult entertainment "for the duration of his natural life." Though Rizzolo was considered a "consultant" in the Philly expansion, and Drace and others say he's no longer involved, his presence is felt here. In multiple visits as recently as June, Rizzolo bought rounds for the entire bar. "Everybody loves when Rick comes in," says an employee. "It's party time." Drace also faces jail on his tax fraud plea, with sentencing likely later this fall.

Despite a history with as much violence and federal lawbreaking as the Bada Bing!, Crazy Horse had little trouble setting up shop here. Opposition from City Council President Anna Verna and State Senator Vince Fumo couldn't muscle the Liquor Control Board into revoking the club's license. Community protests had even less impact — unlike Scores, which would be within a short walk of homes, Crazy Horse is practically on an island. The real estate its "neighbors" were protecting had nothing to do with condos. It was moral ground they defended. Strippers, beatings, the mob — this is not a business we want in our city. But the city had other plans.