Former Crazy Horse Too owner Rizzolo pleads guilty to tax charge

Updated June 8, 2017 - 6:05 pm

Former Crazy Horse Too strip club owner Rick Rizzolo, whose business endeavors and financial habits have been scrutinized by federal authorities for over two decades, pleaded guilty Thursday to a single count of felony tax evasion.

A notorious businessman with suspected mob ties, Rizzolo admitted in federal court to evading $1.7 million in employment taxes on wages paid over a decade ago — during the peak of his casino high-rolling days, when authorities suspected he was running an extortion racket out of his downtown topless cabaret.

The admission of guilt marks the second time in the last 11 years that the former strip club magnate has reached a deal with federal prosecutors to settle pending charges. If his legal troubles have had a common theme, it is that he has long been accused of engaging in criminal activity far more serious than his convictions suggest.

In 2006, he was the central target in a federal racketeering investigation that focused on the Crazy Horse Too. But after a decade of FBI efforts, Rizzolo walked away with a single felony tax conviction, a one-year-and-one-day prison sentence, and an agreement to quit the strip club business that for so long had funded his lavish lifestyle.

He also was ordered to pay $10 million in restitution to a Kansas tourist, Kirk Henry, whose neck was snapped in the Crazy Horse Too parking lot after he accused the club of padding an $8 bar tab. When Henry died this year, Rizzolo still owed him $8.8 million in restitution.

The infamous heydays of the now-shuttered Crazy Horse Too were revisited briefly in federal court Thursday, when U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro reviewed the terms of the plea agreement.

Between the years 2000 and 2002, Rizzolo evaded the payment of $1.7 million in employment taxes. He did so by providing supplemental cash wages to floormen, bouncers, bartenders, and shift managers — strip club employees characterized in prior legal filings as henchmen who hustled patrons. He hid those cash payments from the topless club’s bookkeepers.

In pleading guilty, Rizzolo also admitted to hiding income and assets from the IRS after he was ordered to pay the $10 million in restitution to Henry.

After the 2006 conviction, he took $900,000 he received from the sale of the Crazy Horse Too and sent it to an offshore bank account in the Cook Islands. He also wrote a $50,000 check to another person — who subsequently returned the funds to him — in order to avoid an IRS levy and seizure. He lied to an IRS collections attorney, whom he told he had no income or assets and no ability to pay the taxes he owed.

The charge to which Rizzolo pleaded guilty carries a maximum statutory sentence of five years. Defense attorneys and federal prosecutors negotiated a two-year prison sentence and a restitution amount of $2.6 million, to be paid to the IRS. The deal allows Rizzolo, 58, to withdraw his plea if the court does not accept the sentencing terms included in the agreement. Navarro scheduled sentencing for Sept. 15.

Contact Jenny Wilson at jenwilson or 702-384-8710. Follow @jennydwilson on Twitter.

Vehicle of Interest in January Homicide
Las Vegas police released footage Friday of a “vehicle of interest” from a deadly shooting in January. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hostage escapes clutches of robber before shooting
Metropolitan Police Department footage shows a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, identified by police as 27-year-old Mario B. Trejo, with one arm wrapped around a woman’s neck and held a handgun to her head.
Sunset Park Vigil
A small group of people gathered in Sunset Park to remember the three children recently killed in the area.
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nye County detectives pursue suspects
A swarm of Nye County deputies, at the request of Las Vegas police, surrounded a hotel room in Pahrump last week to take two fugitives into custody. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Las Vegas judge’s ruling will halt tonight’s execution
On Wednesday Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez issued a ruling that will halt the execution of convicted murderer Scott Dozier. Alvogen Inc., which makes the sedative midazolam, filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the Nevada Department of Corrections of surreptitiously obtaining the drug for use in an execution.
3 people shot in southeast Las Vegas
Three men were shot Thursday night in southeast Las Vegas, and two of them have life threatening injuries. Las Vegas police responded to the incident just after 10 p.m. on the 5000 block of Mountain Vista Street. The investigation is in its early stages and police were unable to describe the suspect or say how man people they think were involved. Police encourage anyone with information regarding this shooting to call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555, or 3-1-1
Robbery suspects apprehended
Four robbery suspects were taken into custody Thursday morning after a vehicle and foot chase that ended in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. The incident began when a person was robbed at gunpoint around 4:45 a.m. near Maryland Parkway and Desert Inn. Officers arriving at the scene tried to stop two vehicles. One vehicle escaped but police chased the second into a neighborhood on Flamingo Road near Mountain Vista Street. Police surrounded the neighborhood and the suspects were apprehended. It looked like one police vehicle was involved in a collision with the suspects' car. One woman suffered an unknown injury and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. 01:04
Las Vegas police looking for robbery suspects
Two robbers who recently targeted three Las Vegas businesses remained at large Tuesday and police are asking the public to help identify them. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like