I-Team: Former strip club owner suspected of mob ties enters guilty plea

LAS VEGAS - A former strip club owner long suspected of mob ties entered a guilty plea Thursday, and it will likely send him to prison.

Rick Rizzolo was the millionaire owner of the "Crazy Horse Too," a gentleman's club on Industrial Road.  He was also the subject of a ten-year federal racketeering investigation.
   
But what eventually brought Rizzolo down was the failure to pay his taxes.

Rizzolo was a prince of the city. He partied with movie stars and athletes; he gambled millions at Las Vegas Casinos, and he was generous with politicians.

The Crazy Horse Too was in a gritty area off the Strip, but at its height, it earned millions of dollars per year.  But, Rizzolo did not hide his friendships with alleged mob associates.

A few of them worked at the club, which prompted some to label Rizzolo as the Tony Soprano of Las Vegas. That title drew the attention of FBI and IRS agents.

Rizzolo's club was under electronic surveillance for years, and in 2003, agents raided the club and seized business records and other materials.

Eventually, Rizzolo pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to pay payroll taxes.  In 2002, in what might be his only formal, on-camera interview, Rizzolo told the I-Team about his decision to hire employees who had reputations.

"If you're on the news, making an issue over felons that work someplace, our record should stand on its own," Rizzolo said.
"Not one guy who's come to work for me has ever been in trouble again for anything since. Instead of making an issue out of it, someone should give me a medal for taking these hardened criminal s off the street."

After the Crazy Horse Too lost its liquor license, it was sold, and Rizzolo was supposed to use that money to pay off his $1.7 million tax debt.  

In the guilty plea announced Thursday, the U.S. Attorneys office said that instead, Rizzolo hid assets in offshore accounts before misleading the IRS. 

Rizzolo will be sentenced in September.  He will likely face two years in federal prison. Over the last few years, Rizzolo has worked in Las Vegas selling luxury automobiles.


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