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Judge tells Rizzolo he can’t use felon in lawsuit defense

Former strip club owner Rick Rizzolo is prohibited from using a felon who has no law degree to help him defend a federal lawsuit.

U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley made the ruling Friday after lawyers representing plaintiffs in the case, Kirk and Amy Henry, accused Rizzolo of perpetrating a fraud upon the court by signing legal documents he did not prepare.

In his decision, Foley concluded that Rizzolo’s ghostwriter, convicted felon James Kimsey, had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law on Rizzolo’s behalf.

Kimsey, who is not licensed to practice law in Nevada, could not be reached for comment on the order. In a telephone interview earlier this month, he described himself as a paralegal and said he had worked for most of the “high-powered lawyers” in Las Vegas.

Rizzolo went to prison in 2007 after pleading guilty in a tax case to conspiracy to defraud the United States.

At a hearing earlier this month, the Henrys’ lawyers said they had racked up $260,000 in fees while responding to frivolous motions from Rizzolo and Kimsey. They also suggested that the relationship between the two felons violates the conditions of Rizzolo’s release from prison.

Attorney Stan Hunterton told Foley that Kimsey, whose prior convictions include perjury and the unlawful practice of law, should be jailed for contempt of court and ordered to pay monetary sanctions.

Foley concluded that some sanctions against Rizzolo are appropriate and awarded the plaintiffs “their reasonable attorneys fees and costs” related to the matter.

Attorney Kenneth Frizzell III, who recently began representing Rizzolo, previously told Foley that Rizzolo’s probation officer had authorized the relationship with Kimsey. Frizzell could not be reached for comment Friday.

A standard condition of supervision bars defendants from associating with felons, unless they receive permission to do so from their probation officer.

“Because the Court has no independent knowledge of Mr. Kimsey’s current legal status or whether Mr. Rizzolo’s contact with him is known to Mr. Rizzolo’s probation officer, the Court will order that a copy of the hearing transcript and this order be sent to the United States Parole and Probation Department for whatever action, if any, they may deem appropriate,” Foley wrote.

Rizzolo, 51, was released from prison in April 2008 and is to be supervised until April 2011.

Kirk Henry, a Kansas City tourist, was paralyzed from the chest down in September 2001 after he disputed an $80 bill at Rizzolo’s Crazy Horse Too Gentlemen’s Club.

In 2006, Rizzolo agreed to pay Kirk Henry $10 million using proceeds from the sale of his strip club. The club’s insurance company paid $1 million. The economy then tanked, and the club lost its liquor license, causing the value of the business to plummet.

The Henrys sued Rick and Lisa Rizzolo in 2008 and have accused them of taking actions, such as engaging in a sham divorce, to hide their assets.

At the hearing earlier this month, Frizzell acknowledged that Kimsey had prepared several motions for Rizzolo while Rizzolo was representing himself in the case.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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