February 20, 2003 11:24am
Police Raid - Feds Swarm Strip Club
Source: Las Vegas Sun
by: Jace Radke & Jeff German
(LAS VEGAS, NV) -- Agents from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Metro Police raided the Crazy Horse Too topless club this morning as part of an ongoing federal investigation into allegations of hidden ownership by organized crime and other illegal activity at the club.
More than 80 officers, some armed with shotguns and rifles, jumped out of vans in front of the club at 2476 S. Industrial Road about 5 a.m. And rushed inside, witnesses said.
Authorities were tight-lipped about the raid.
"It's a sealed search warrant that's part of a sealed affidavit, so there's not a lot we can talk about," FBI spokesman Daron Borst said. "This is just one step in an ongoing, joint investigation."
He wouldn't provide details of the investigation and what kinds of materials investigators were seizing from the club.
Crazy Horse Too attorney Tony Sgro described the raid as a "huge fishing expedition" and said he was confident there was no wrongdoing at the club.
"We've been nothing but cooperative, but they came barreling into the club at five in the morning with masks and weapons drawn," he said.
Sgro said the search warrants authorized the agents to obtain club records dating back to 1995.
He said the agents were looking for evidence of "covert ownership" of the club by organized crime figures, a charge the club's owner, Rick Rizzolo, has denied.
The politically connected Rizzolo, who has been linked to organized crime figures in the past, was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
The search warrants also authorized agents to seize documents relating to the club's finances, as well as altercations and other incidents at the club dating back to 1995, Sgro said.
Agents also were searching for such drugs as cocaine, methamphetamine and GHB, a growth hormone, and the club-drug Ecstasy, Sgro said.
As of 10 a.m., Sgro said, agents had not found any drugs other than a small amount of marijuana in a dancer's locker. But agents carted away computers, cash registers and a variety of business records and loaded them into trucks in the back of the property, Sgro said.
Sgro said new cash registers were being purchased so the club could reopen as soon as this afternoon, after the raid is completed.
The Crazy Horse Too reportedly has been the subject of a federal grand jury probe since last fall.
Aside from the topless club's reputed ties to organized crime, FBI agents are believed to be investigating a series of racketeering allegations, including beatings that occurred outside the club.
The most notable beating involved a Kansas City man, Kirk Henry, who has filed suit against the Crazy Horse Too, alleging his neck was broken in a Sept. 20, 2001, altercation with a bouncer at the club.
During today's raid agents burst through the doors and pointed a gun at her, the club's head cashier, Patti Pintarelli said.
"They told me not to touch anything and to put my hands on my head," she said while standing outside the club this morning. "I went to put some cash away and they stuck a gun about five inches from my face."
One of the agents, wearing a mask, got on the stage and was holding a machine gun, witnesses said. Borst said none of the officers had machine guns, however.
[Follow the link in the box to the right for the rest of the story]