COMMENTARY: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
September 5, 2001
The Patti and Sgro connections

Dean Patti and Tony Sgro may not be household names yet, but the notoriety of the two young attorneys is growing meteorically along with their list of often-infamous clients.

After spending their first years out of college defending small time criminals and telemarketers, Patti and Sgro became the attorneys of record for topless club owner Frederick Rizzolo and his close associates Fred Doumani and Councilman Michael McDonald.

In 1994, Dean Patti on behalf of Councilman McDonald sued Syufy Theaters for a slip and fall accident. Judge Nancy M. Saitta awarded McDonald $181,367,60.

Patti also represented McDonald in two other personal injury lawsuits against the California State Automobile Association. McDonald received out of court settlements in both cases from the insurance company.

In more recent years, the duo have become the militia against enemies of Rizzolo and McDonald

In 1999, Dean Patti's name appeared in a Metro Police report as having accompanied Rizzolo's sister, Annette Patterson, at the time she leased office space for a church located across from a property owned by Sig Rogich. It was alleged that Patterson, with the help of McDonald and Patti, located the church to block Rogich from obtaining zoning to open a topless club that would compete with Rizzolo's.

Then, Councilwoman Lynette Boggs-McDonald identified Patti as one of the men who accompanied Mike McDonald and Rizzolo on a tour of the city owned Las Vegas Sportspark. They were called "potential investors" who wanted to buy the facility. This event catapulted Mike McDonald before the City Ethics Board where he was found guilty of ethics violations even though he was represented by Patti and Sgro.

Dean Patti is listed as a member of an organization known as Youth Charities. Other members include Rick Rizzolo, Richard Isola, Tony Tegano, Freddie Glusman, and Father Dave Casaleggio.

Isola is a former Silver State Disposal Service vice president who went to prison after committing tax fraud, Tegano is the father-in-law of a reputed mob figure and once donated a villa for Mike McDonald to live in at Canyon Gate Country Club, Glusman owns a trendy hangout frequented by underworld figures, and Father Dave once appeared before the County Commission to protest an upscale gentleman's club intended to compete with his friend Rizzolo.

Mike McDonald publicly referred to his friends in the clique as "Pillars of the Community" when they received bad press after being caught at a purported fundraiser with a bunch of scantily clad strippers.

Most recently, Dean Patti filed a lawsuit on behalf of car dealer John Staluppi against Councilmen Michael Mack and Larry Brown. He was also involved in ethics complaints filed against Mack, Brown, and Boggs-McDonald.

Why the attacks on Mack, Brown, and Boggs-McDonald? In 1999, Mike McDonald failed in a scheme to appoint his cronies to openings on the council in order to overpower Mayor Oscar Goodman and take control of the city. Brown, Mack and Boggs-McDonald took sides with Goodman and voted against the scheme forever offending Michael McDonald and his handlers.

Now its get even time for Mike McDonald, et. al.

Though he is maintaining a low profile, it is obvious that the current thrust to discredit Mack, Brown, and Boggs-McDonald is intended, with the assistance of Patti and Sgro, to distract from Mike McDonald's own legion of ethical transgressions.

McDonald obviously thinks that by shifting the ethical spotlight to his council colleagues he will soften the impact of his reams of bad press when it comes time for reelection or a possible mayoral run. He may also want to create ammunition for their opponents in upcoming elections so he can make room on the council for his associates.

McDonald's alter ego, Rick Rizzolo, is also getting in his licks against his perceived enemies with Patti and Sgro's help. Rizzolo has allegedly helped to raise over $40,000 for District Attorney candidate David Roger.

McDonald has also recently been seen hosting David Roger at political and social events. Roger is using a portion of Patti & Sgro's law office as his campaign headquarters, and Roger was a member of the DA's staff when the decision was made to not prosecute following the beating death of a patron of Rizzolo's bar.

In another battle, Rizzolo has long wanted to expand his topless club, but his neighbor, Buffalo Jim Barrier, stands in the way. Instead of making an offer to buy out Barrier's lease, Patti and Sgro filed a libel lawsuit against Barrier for going public with stories about beatings at the Crazy Horse.

Then Rizzolo became offended when this reporter and the Las Vegas Tribune began covering stories about his activities. Patti and Sgro filed another frivolous libel suit and a motion for a gag order on his behalf.

In a town like Las Vegas, its not WHAT you know, but WHO you know. With such notorious connections, the team of Patti and Sgro has a bright, but possibly fleeting, future.

(Recent links have been added to this Commentary)

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. Visit his website at: