"A customer leaving the club drunk did trip, but in no way was this man 'beaten.'" – Rick Rizzolo

Police say the man was on his way to his car.


COMMENTARY: Steve Miller

Las Vegas Tribune

October 24, 2001

"A customer leaving the club drunk did trip, but in no way was this man 'beaten.'"

That was the inadequate excuse given for injuries resulting in a broken neck and quadriplegia sustained by a patron at the Crazy Horse Too topless bar on Sept. 20.

The Las Vegas Tribune recently broke several front-page stories describing dangerous events at the business. These and other exclusive Tribune reports and opinions became part of the purported basis of a "libel" suit against this newspaper and this reporter.

Since the Tribune was the only news outlet at the time reporting serious incidents at the Crazy Horse, we believed that this lawsuit was solely intended to stop our coverage.

The Tribune’s first story: "Wrongful death lawsuit reinstated against Crazy Horse Too," told of a suit that was upheld on August 14 by District Court Judge Nancy M. Saitta against Frederick Rizzolo's business.

The story described the beating death of Scott David Fau whose body was found next to railroad tracks behind the club on Aug. 4, 1995.

Camille Fau’s lawsuit claims the bar permitted its employees to beat her husband David to death after he was ejected.

Then on October 3, 2001, the Tribune’s front page featured the story "Another beating reported at topless bar."

The story told of a man being ejected from the bar for allegedly not paying an eighty-eight dollar bar tab. It said that two bar employees beat the man and took all his cash with the exception of one dollar. Then, before returning to the bar, one of the bouncers reportedly snapped the man's neck causing his spinal cord to sever.

In the face of Rizzolo's lawsuit, the Tribune courageously published my October 3, Commentary "A Broken Neck for $88." Then to Frederick Rizzolo's obvious dismay – our stories went multimedia.

Rizzolo soon broke his code of silence and wrote a Letter to the Editor critical of this newspaper and myself that was published unedited in last week's Tribune.

His letter clearly indicated that he and his attorney, Patti Sgro, were so distracted with trying to shoot the messenger that they completely missed the point - someone needs to take charge of this out-of-control business before more innocent people get hurt!

Following our scoops, one TV station ran two stories entitled "Paralyzed Kansas Man Files Lawsuit Against Club," and "Man Says Bouncers Paralyzed Him."

The Review Journal's story: "Did club dispute lead to broken neck?" and the Sun's story: "Strip club searched after assault on customer" should have also roused Rizzolo’s wrath - but didn't.

Only the humble Tribune received Mr. Rizzolo’s wrath for breaking the original stories that were picked up by other media outlets.

Channel 8 even ended their Oct. 5, story by stating: "It is the second beating incident reported at the club in the past six years. Also, employees of the club are set to go on trial in March 2002 in the case of a customer who was found beaten to death behind the club in 1995."

No lawsuit was filed against KLAS TV for saying that a customer "was found beaten to death behind the club…," something Rizzolo strongly denied in his Letter to the Editor.

As if these stories were not damaging enough to his business, Rizzolo then decided to incriminate himself by writing in his letter to the Tribune: "A customer leaving the club drunk did trip…"

What makes his statement incriminating is that police say the customer, Kirk Henry, was on his way to his car when he was crippled. In other words, if he was as "drunk" as Rizzolo stated, why didn't bar personnel take his keys and call him a cab?

While Las Vegas suffers one of the worst rates of DUI carnage in the nation, Rizzolo, a prominent bar owner, inadvertently confessed to exasperating our horrible DUI problem by letting people get grossly intoxicated then drive away from his bar!

Mayor Oscar Goodman visited the Tribune last week. He asked that we get together to discuss the Tribune's October 10, headlines: "Show Cause Hearing Requested for Topless Club," and "TIPS Program Ignored by Local Topless Bar," stories describing other documented instances of drunks being allowed to drive away from Rizzolo’s bar.

I am still awaiting the Mayor's confirmation of that meeting.

Mr. Rizzolo's admission: "A customer leaving the club drunk did trip," in conjunction with the LVMPD report that the man was on his way to his car, is more than enough evidence (along with six reported beatings, robberies, and a reported killing) for the Mayor to bring this public nuisance before the Council to determine if it should remain open for business.

I hope Mayor Goodman takes prompt action to stop the terror and carnage on Industrial Road.

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman and Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner. The readers of the Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada in 1991. Visit his website at: