Attorney Stan Hunterton sounded relieved. At long last, he senses former Crazy Horse Too topless bar owner Rick Rizzolo’s days of ducking his court-ordered obligations could be ending.
Yeah, I know. I find it hard to believe, too. The Rizzolo case feels like it’s been going on since shortly after statehood. But the cautious Hunterton seems almost confident that the rusty wheels of justice are at last beginning to turn, and Rizzolo might just be headed from a Strip resort near you back to the Iron-Bar Hotel.
“We were finally able to provoke the U.S. government into moving to revoke Rizzolo’s supervised release,” Hunterton said this week.
It’s been a long time coming.
On March 29, U.S. District Judge Philip Pro will take evidence in the matter, but it was clear from this week’s hearing that the federal parole and probation officials are finally on the same page with attorneys for Amy and Kirk Henry. Kirk Henry became a quadriplegic after his neck was broken in September 2001 by a Crazy Horse Too thug. After part of a global settlement to resolve a criminal case, Rizzolo agreed to pay the Henrys $10 million to resolve a litigation brought by Hunterton and Don Campbell.
Shortly after Rizzolo’s 2008 release following a 366-day prison sentence, it became clear to Hunterton and Campbell that the high-rolling casino customer was either unwilling or unable to compensate the Henrys. Once they began delving into Rizzolo’s lifestyle, and found that he hadn’t sought employment, had made $1 million from his share of a topless cabaret development in Philadelphia, had sold a vintage Corvette for $100,000, and had run up a string of expensive purchases on his credit cards, they became convinced he would never willingly pay his debts. When they discovered that he’d helped arrange to open offshore bank accounts in the name of former wife Lisa Rizzolo, they brought all their findings to the attention of the U.S. District Court, U.S. Attorney’s office, and federal parole and probation.
It’s clear that Judge Pro has run out of patience with Rizzolo and his seemingly endless string of court filings.
Maybe a few weeks in the slammer will improve Rizzolo’s motivation to make good on his debt to the Henrys.
Frankly, I doubt it.
The questions that keep coming back to me are these: Why didn’t the U.S. Attorney’s office, which has clearly been embarrassed by this drawn-out affair, move with more energy to go after Rizzolo?
Why weren’t federal P&P officials more motivated not to appear like the guy’s former satisfied customers?
For that matter, why was the Crazy Horse Too allowed to remain empty and unsold at a time a court-appointed operator might at least have been able to return some compensation to the Henrys and the government.
Perhaps that’s about to all become a thing of the past now that a deadline has been set in federal court.
But don’t bank on it. Not yet, anyway.
If Rizzolo to date hasn’t parted with whatever wealth he has stashed away, it’s hard to imagine three months in the pokey persuading him.
However, if the local office of IRS Criminal Investigation was given fresh evidence that Rizzolo, who has a tax conviction, has been hiding income, and hasn’t been filing tax returns, his life might get more complicated. Note to IRS: That’s all becoming part of the court record.
And that eventually might lead Rizzolo to check his calendar and decide life is too short to joust with the Tax Man.