If I didn’t know better, I’d say the U.S. attorney’s office and the federal Department of Parole and Probation are being called out.
I reached that conclusion after reading a motion filed by former federal prosecutors Stan Hunterton and Donald Campbell in their civil pursuit of former topless club poobah and convicted felon Rick Rizzolo.
Both government entities have the unenviable task of deciding what to do with Rizzolo, who owes $9 million plus interest to Amy and Kirk Henry, the Kansas tourist who was made a quadriplegic after his neck was snapped nearly a decade ago in the parking lot of the Crazy Horse Too.
Word is U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden has lawyers from the civil, asset forfeiture and criminal sections working the Rizzolo matter.
But, reading between the lines of the motion, they’re not working hard enough.
Rizzolo served a short time in prison as part of a global settlement of the Crazy Horse Too criminal investigation.
The $10 million Henry settlement was part of the deal. After a $1 million down payment, Rizzolo sewed up his pockets and cried poor. He also signed an agreement that, his lawyers argue, compels him to pay the Henrys only from the proceeds of the sale of the Crazy Horse Too, which sits gaudy and cobwebbed on Industrial Road.
Rizzolo isn’t penniless, exactly. He is, in fact, secreting millions in offshore bank accounts in his ex-wife’s name. He also had the Crazy Horse Too, which was worth about as much as a Tuff Shed without its bouncing dancers and liquor license.
Come to think of it, he also had a piece of a club deal in Philadelphia with baseball star Mike Piazza’s father, Vince. According to court documents, Rizzolo had his $1 million investment returned, and it’s suspected he deposited $999,000 through channels into a Cook Islands account “to guard against the potential seizure of assets.”
“Enough is enough,” a frustrated Hunterton said. “Rizzolo has thumbed his nose at the court for years, and it’s time to put an end to this old-school organized crime activity. You can’t ignore the law. I can’t ignore the law. Rick Rizzolo can’t ignore the law.
“We’re not being critical of the government. Don Campbell and I have a very special responsibility to the Henrys.”
Hunterton might be frustrated in part because the facts illustrating Rizzolo’s game of financial hide-and-seek aren’t much in dispute. He admitted in a deposition he wanted to transfer proceeds from the Philadelphia sale before others might attach the payments. By others, he admitted, he meant “the government, the IRS, everybody. … The Henrys, whatever.”
Rizzolo’s parade of lawyers argue that, because the club didn’t sell, their man owes the Henrys bupkis.
Meanwhile, Rizzolo has lived lavishly, neglecting to fulfill the conditions of his parole and failing to find work.
Court documents suggest Rizzolo doesn’t have trouble paying his party debts, just his societal ones.
To wit: “Notwithstanding the serious issue of Rick Rizzolo’s unpaid restitution, he has also ignored the express strictures governing his supervised release and the Department of Parole and Probation is either unwilling or powerless to do anything about it. To be clear, Rick Rizzolo is barred from consummating any financial contracts without the approval of his probation officer; yet, he has received over $1 million from his financial dealings since his release. Moreover, Rick Rizzolo failed to even disclose these transactions to his probation officer. Nevertheless, the government has taken no action to enforce Rick Rizzolo’s conditions of supervised release pertaining to the consummation of financial transactions.”
Unwilling or powerless? Taken no action?
Those sound like fighting words to me.
This story is no longer about whether Rizzolo ever decides to man up and pay his debts, but whether the Henrys even win justice.
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.