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Deposition of Rizzolo’s wife generates more questions than answers

For the record, the answer is the South Pacific.

That’s where you’ll find the Cook Islands.

On the Cook Islands you’ll find an office of Capital Security Bank and its parent Southpac Trust International, which specializes in offshore accounts and asset protection.

In a Southpac account belonging to Lisa Rizzolo, you’ll find about $6 million. That much she knows.

The former Mrs. Rick Rizzolo didn’t know on which island the bank holds her millions. She didn’t know what ocean the Cook Islands were in. In her May 12 deposition, she admitted transferring millions to the offshore account. She also admitted making $600,000 in loans to her ex-husband. Although she offered no proof, she swore the loans were repaid.

That account and those loans are intriguing because the couple divorced in 2005, and the plaintiffs in the Kirk Henry civil case have long contended that the dissolution was a sham and an effort to avoid paying the $9 million Rick Rizzolo agreed to pay in 2006 when he entered into a larger settlement in the Crazy Horse Too criminal case. Excerpts of Lisa Rizzolo’s deposition are contained in a motion filed late Friday in U.S. District Court by plaintiff attorneys Donald Campbell and Jack DeGree.

Henry, a Kansas tourist, was made a quadriplegic after having his neck broken after a bar tab dispute at the Crazy Horse Too in September 2001.

Lisa Rizzolo’s deposition is also telling because she admitted she didn’t list the foreign bank account on her income-tax filings. While it’s possible she forgot, it’s safe to say most of us would remember where we left $6 million. I’m no tax expert, but it’s no stretch to assume an IRS agent would consider that “subscribing a false return.”

It would be bad enough if that were all that’s askew with this case, but both sides of the Rizzolo divorce were represented by the Patti & Sgro law office. According to court documents, the legal brain trust at Patti & Sgro can’t find the Rizzolo divorce file.

Did the office dog eat their homework?

How convenient.

The office has long represented Rick Rizzolo in civil and criminal issues. Attorney Tony Sgro did a remarkable job crafting a settlement that saved Rizzolo and his Crazy Horse employees from the likelihood of spending many years in a federal penitentiary. Instead, Rick did a year and a day and returned to private life.

Since his release, the fact that Rizzolo owes the Henry family $9 million and the U.S. government many millions more hasn’t prevented him from living the Vegas high life.

A slumping real estate market hamstrung the sale of the Crazy Horse property, the proceeds of which were intended to compensate the damaged parties.

Once Henry’s attorneys started feeling like they were being played for carnival suckers, they began digging and noticed that almost every penny of the Rizzolo family assets were transferred to Lisa in the divorce. Houses, real estate, cash. Campbell is seeking documents he believes will prove Rizzolo’s intent to “hinder, delay and defraud” the Henry collection.

On Nov. 8, 2006, Lisa admitted she “loaned” her ex-husband $200,000. In March 2007, she loaned him another $400,000. She also made two $25,000 rent payments on the Crazy Horse Too.

While he was in prison, the former wife paid $50,000 of her former spouse’s legal fees.

Not every ex will do that.

Then again this was no ordinary divorce. Lisa remains the beneficiary of Rick’s life insurance policy. Most ex-wives I know would want to collect.

Talk about trust. Although she was to receive $5 million to be paid over 60 months, she admitted she hasn’t received a penny, nor has she attempted to collect.

But then she also visited her ex-husband during his incarceration, and the former couple still shares a credit card.

The dissolution was apparently so amicable that a Neiman painting of the couple still hangs in the ex-wife’s home.

Remarkably, the portrait has not a single slash mark.

A sham divorce?

Why would anyone think that?

The U.S. attorney’s office, surely mortified, ought to be leading an investigative charge in this matter.

By screwing around when he should have been counting his blessings and paying his debts, Rick Rizzolo has now implicated his former wife in possible criminality.

For the record, that’s no way to treat the mother of your children.

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.

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