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City Council OKs permanent liquor license for club

The Crazy Horse Too Gentlemen’s Club will remain open thanks to the Las Vegas City Council granting the club’s new management a permanent liquor license on Wednesday.

The council members voted unanimously to give the license to Mike Signorelli despite recommendations from the city attorney and Las Vegas police to deny the application.

They told the council that there was a consistent pattern of the club’s owner, felon Rick Rizzolo, influencing the topless club’s operation though Signorelli’s management of the club was supposed to be independent of Rizzolo.

“Mr. Signorelli may be doing his best effort to keep Rizzolo out, but it’s happening anyway,” City Attorney Brad Jerbic said. “He can’t run this business without being influenced by Rizzolo’s people.”

In their report to the city, Las Vegas police said: “A reasonable person could draw the conclusion that Signorelli is simply running the business for Rizzolo, who is forbidden to do so.”

Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese led the council discussion on the matter because Mayor Oscar Goodman abstained. Goodman co-owns land with Signorelli’s lawyer, Jay Brown, Goodman’s former law partner.

Interim Councilwoman Brenda Williams also did not vote on the matter but did not state a reason for her abstention.

Reese said he was not confident Rizzolo was completely divorced from the Crazy Horse.

But, Reese said, he regarded the permanent license as a temporary license because it will expire June 30 if Signorelli does not close escrow on the club by then. The city had extended the temporary license as many times as it could.

“We’re trying to move this along,” Reese said. “Mr. Signorelli is trying to do the right thing, though I think he needs to have his head examined.”

Councilman Larry Brown said that if the permanent license were denied, “another Signorelli would be up here” applying for a liquor license.

Signorelli’s permanent liquor license has 12 conditions, many of which had been on his temporary license.

The conditions include the following:

• People associated with Rizzolo, his father, Bartholomew Rizzolo, or sister Annette Rizzolo Patterson are banned from the property.

• People related by blood or marriage or former marriage to Rizzolo or any of the 14 other former Crazy Horse workers who pleaded guilty to federal felony charges are banned from the property.

• If Signorelli and his company, Nevada Receivership LLC, do not close escrow on the Crazy Horse Too by June 30, Signorelli loses the liquor license.

• The source of any and all money used to buy the Crazy Horse Too shall be verified and subject to the approval of Las Vegas police.

Business Licensing Director Jim DiFiore, with 24 hours notice, can suspend all of the Crazy Horse Too’s business and liquor licenses for violating any of the conditions.

Jerbic said before the vote that one problem with the conditions is how the club will be monitored for compliance. City officials and Las Vegas police are not set up “to baby sit” businesses to ensure that they comply with such conditions, Jerbic said.

He and Las Vegas police said that one of the arrangements that appears suspicious is Signorelli has been paying about $120,000 in monthly rent instead of the $400,000 that had been in the lease agreement he submitted to the City Council.

Signorelli said he has invested $550,000 of his own money in the club and was being allowed to make the lower rent payments because he was not making as much money as had been projected.

Jay Brown, Signorelli’s lawyer, said that it was in Rizzolo’s best interest to allow Signorelli to “defer” rent payments to keep Signorelli committed to buying the club.

Jay Brown said he presented the council with a letter from the U.S. attorney’s office stating that Signorelli would be a suitable purchaser for the Crazy Horse Too.

Signorelli has an agreement to buy the club for $45 million from Rizzolo, who under his federal plea agreement is required to sell the club by June 30. The federal government can take over the Crazy Horse and put it in receivership if Rizzolo has not sold it by that date, Jerbic said.

The city revoked Rizzolo’s liquor license in September after he and 14 workers entered separate federal guilty pleas to several crimes in June. The council voted to ban him from his topless club and levied a $2.2 million fine, the largest in city history. That was reduced to about $1 million by a judge.

The council granted Signorelli a temporary license after he came forward as the intended buyer and new manager of the club.

In addition to requiring Rizzolo to sell the club, his federal plea agreement required him to pay nearly $17 million in fines, forfeitures and restitution, including $10 million to Kirk Henry, whose neck was broken after disputing a tab at the club.

Rizzolo was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by evading taxes.

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