Rick Rizzolo figured the federal agents who turned up at his door Wednesday were kidding him. He’s funny that way.
But the agents from IRS Criminal Investigation hadn’t dropped by to exchange one-liners with the former topless cabaret boss and longtime organized crime associate. They’d come to take him into custody following his indictment on two felony tax charges.
Kidding, they were not. But once again Rizzolo appears to be the last guy to recognize that the government long ago grew tired of his scheme to hide assets and duck taxes from what was once a personal skin industry fortune worth many millions.
The government’s case is as specific as its paper trail: From June 28, 2006, to May 31, 2011, Rizzolo is alleged to have willfully avoided paying $1.72 million in employment taxes and in doing so making false statements to IRS agents while attempting to conceal his ownership of property and assets in other names and “and by placing funds and property beyond the reach of process” in violation of federal law.
The second charge is more of the same. From March 31, 2008, to May 31, 2011, Rizzolo is accused of attempting to conceal another $861,000 in assets.
A couple tax charges alleging nearly $2.6 million in evasion is nothing to sniff at. Add it to his previous tax conviction and, if the new charges are proven, Rizzolo is in line to receive substantially more hard time than his first 366-day sentence. (He compounded his misery by being sent back to jail after having his parole revoked.)
Rizzolo pleaded not guilty Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe.
But he has many problems defending himself against the charges, not the least of which is the treasure trove of potentially damaging evidence compiled during the 15-round civil case filed on behalf of Kirk and Amy Henry. Kirk Henry is the Kansas tourist who had his head nearly wrenched off by one of Rizzolo’s goons outside the Crazy Horse Too in September 2001. Henry was made a quadriplegic, but it’s Rizzolo whose life has been crippled by the relentless litigation effort by the Campbell and Williams law firm and former federal Organized Crime Strike Force prosecutor Stan Hunterton.
That litigation was a spear point that helped secure the original federal indictments and the global settlement, which let most of Rizzolo’s 16 co-defendants plead guilty to income tax charges in exchange for his own guilty plea and an agreement to pay the Henry family $10 million.
Rizzolo signed but didn’t pay.
In fact, he told associates that he’d never pay.
But the pathetic truth is, he’s been paying every day since he took bad advice and decided to cheat the disabled man and his family out of what he owed.
He continues to pay with interest:
He paid when he had his parole revoked and he was sent back behind bars. He paid when he dragged his ex-wife and his son into the middle of the malodorous quagmire, using her as a shill for almost-concealed millions in a Cook Islands bank account. Other Rizzolo family members have paid, too, for receiving and attempting to conceal assets that were meant for the Henry family.
Rizzolo’s not through paying — not by a long shot.
His self-delusion would be downright Shakespearean if the Bard of Avon had penned a gum-snapping Vegas wiseguy with delusions of Gotti grandeur.
Although Rizzolo can now claim to be indigent, it won’t stop the slow wheels of justice from grinding. And if it’s ever discovered that he holds hidden ownership in other businesses or automobiles, then he’ll have even more explaining to do.
To those who say the government is going to an awful lot of effort to get a guy who to date has been personally guilty of only violating the tax code, I’ll make a note of it and say this:
Kirk Henry hasn’t moved his legs in 13 years, and Rizzolo long ago accepted civil responsibility.
There’s nothing humorous about that, but maybe our community’s half-scale Scarface will find a way to keep laughing as he does life on the installment plan.
John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Email him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.