Ruling gives lawyers a chance to pursue assets of former topless bar boss


If Rick Rizzolo has buried any coffee cans full of cash in his backyard, it's probably a good time to start digging them up.

If the ousted impresario of the once wildly lucrative Crazy Horse Too topless cabaret has invested heavily in the stock market, he would be wise to convert those shares.

If he handed off assets, memorabilia, and even property to family, friends, and trusted business associates prior to his 2006 federal tax fraud conspiracy conviction, I'm guessing this is an opportune moment to have all that stuff returned.

Of course, if the longtime mob associate and formerly generous political campaign contributor actually played by the rules when he divorced his wife, Lisa, and divided the family's substantial assets before heading off to prison, then he has nothing to worry about.

But thanks to a ruling Monday from U.S. District Judge Philip Pro, civil attorneys attempting to recover the $9 million Rizzolo owes Amy and Kirk Henry will now get the opportunity to pursue any assets the former topless bar boss might have fraudulently transferred. And that means Rizzolo, his former wife, adult son, and other parties will need to make themselves available to give their depositions.

It would be much easier, of course, if Rizzolo awakened and coughed up the money he's already admitted he owes the Henrys. But from the outset Rizzolo has consistently neglected to take my advice, freely and generously given, in this case. Now I think it's too late.

Pro's ruling is a breakthrough for the Henrys. Kirk Henry is the Kansas tourist who nearly had his head twisted off his shoulders in the parking lot of the Crazy Horse Too following a dispute over an $80 bar tab. Henry was left a quadriplegic in September 2001 after suffering a broken neck, and Crazy Horse Too employee Bobby D'Apice was convicted in connection with the violence at the club.

As part of the "global" settlement in the case in 2006, Rizzolo agreed to give Henry and his wife $10 million and made a $1 million down payment. The remaining $9 million was to come from the forced sale of the topless club.

But the club didn't sell, and now that the local real estate market has tanked, it's worth far less than $9 million. Rizzolo and his attorneys must have thought they had caught a break, and some judges agreed with their contention that the $9 million wasn't due until the club eventually sold.

Pro corrected that perception in an order that leaves no doubt that the Henrys' money is overdue.

He wrote, "Although the settlement agreement expressly provides that the parties anticipate the $9 million will be paid from the proceeds of the sale, the agreement further provides that obligation to make payment upon the closing is not contingent upon the realization of net proceeds from the sale sufficient to make the $9 million payment. Plaintiffs argue, and defendants agree, that in the event the proceeds from the sale of the Crazy Horse Too are insufficient to satisfy the $9 million settlement obligation payable to the Henrys, plaintiffs would be entitled to seek relief for the balance from other assets of defendant Fredrick Rizzolo."

Other assets?

That opens the door for Henry attorneys Donald Campbell and Colby Williams to question not only Rizzolo, his ex-wife and their adult son, but also former City Councilman Michael McDonald, who is currently under investigation by the IRS after being suspected of accepting money from the topless boss. Just last week Rizzolo went before a federal grand jury in connection with the McDonald investigation.

Let's not forget that Rizzolo remains close to his godson, Rick Belcastro, owner of record of the Badda Bing topless club. As part of his settlement, Rizzolo is not allowed to have a business interest in a skin joint.

Then there are the times since his 2008 release from prison that Rizzolo has been spotted gambling and night-clubbing on the Strip. I'm guessing Rizzolo's casino hosts won't mind being asked how much their customer played at a time he should have been paying his debt to the guy one of his goons crippled.

During his representation of the Henrys, Campbell once told the Las Vegas City Council that, if necessary, he would "chase (Rizzolo) to the gates of Hell."

I'd say the chase is on.

John L. Smith's column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith/.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.