When Mike Signorelli went before the Las Vegas City Council in October to ask for a temporary liquor license to operate the Crazy Horse Too, he agreed to divorce himself from the topless club’s “old regime” of Rick Rizzolo and the 14 club workers who had just pleaded guilty to federal crimes.
But a Las Vegas police investigation found seven instances in which the club’s new management appeared to violate the conditions.
“There may be attempts by the previous owner or his past employees to operate the business in the same manner as it was operated before, thus putting the welfare of the customers and public at large at risk,” said the confidential report obtained by the Review-Journal.
The council unanimously granted Signorelli a permanent liquor license Wednesday despite recommendations by police and City Attorney Brad Jerbic to deny the license.
Mayor Oscar Goodman and interim-Councilwoman Brenda Williams abstained.
The report said there are two different conclusions a “prudent person” could reach after looking at the facts: “You could say that Signorelli is legitimately trying to purchase this business and has made many poor decisions along the way, or has allowed Rizzolo to manipulate him into making those poor decisions,” the report said.
“The other line of thinking is that Signorelli is your classic ‘straw man’ in the business world. He is a local, legitimate business owner with no criminal history who could operate the business for the previous owner who is prohibited from operating it.”
Among the violations at the club since he was granted a temporary license were the following:
• Calling Rizzolo to ask his advice about paying cabdrivers for dropping off patrons.
• Hiring as a cocktail waitress the wife of a former employee who pleaded guilty in the case against the club.
• Making Gregory Lioce, a manager under Rizzolo, a key employee. Lioce said he is a friend of Rizzolo.
• Hiring Paul Swords as a key employee. Swords said he has been and continues to be a friend of Ralph Rizzolo, brother to Rick Rizzolo.
Swords, hired as a maintenance man and then a bartender, said he was trained on how to do the club’s books by Bartholomew Rizzolo, Rick Rizzolo’s father, and Annette Rizzolo Patterson, Rick Rizzolo’s sister.
“The most concerning part of this … is the appearance that the Rizzolo’s (sic) handpicked Swords anticipating him to be a Key Employee under Signorelli’s operations,” the report said.
Charles Platz, another key employee of Signorelli, said that Signorelli has put together a group of local investors able to come up with as much as $150 million to buy the club.
Despite a lease for $400,000 per month, Signorelli is paying only $30,000 a week.
Jerbic told the council Wednesday that Platz complained to police that when he chastises employees for not doing their jobs, they ignore him and say, “I will have to talk to Rick.”
Jay Brown, Signorelli’s attorney, said that as soon as Signorelli became aware of connections between employees and the Rizzolos, those workers were fired. That includes two employees fired Wednesday morning, he said.
“Whatever was alleged to have been tried, it was not with the knowledge or agreement of Mr. Signorelli,” Brown said.