GLOBE, January 9, 2006

FEDERAL agents looking into Mob racketeering and extortion in Las Vegas made George Clooney an offer he couldn't refuse.

They called in the Ocean’s 11 star to ask him about his friendship with a strip club owner they're investigating for links to organized crime.

Also swept up in the Fed’s investigation were Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, who were also questioned.

Clooney’s reported friendship with Rick Rizzolo, the owner of the notorious topless club Crazy Horse Too, has been the talk of the gambling mecca for several years.

Rizzolo himself bragged, “George is my buddy” to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. And he even let Clooney use the club to shoot Ocean’s 11 scenes, including a stripper’s lap dance with Brad Pitt, for free.

News reports noted back in 2003 that “coziness between actor George Clooney and embattled Las Vegas strip club owner Rick Rizzolo have raised some eyebrows at a Sin City VIP nightclub party thrown by Cindy Crawford's husband bar owner Rande Gerber."  ‘Feds have a full-on investigation into suspected fraud, illegal sex and drug violations’


FBI wants to know all about his friendship with notorious strip club boss “The Feds want to know what Clooney saw around Rizzolo’s club because they have a big-time investigation going on there into violence, prostitution and drugs,” says a Las Vegas insider. “No one is suggesting that George has done anything improper, but this friend of his, Rizzolo, has got problems.”

Rizzolo has a criminal record for brutal violence. In 1985 he pleaded guilty to battering a Crazy Horse client with a baseball bat. The man suffered brain damage and died several years later.

Rizzolo’s huge club, where up to 400 topless dancers perform every night, has repeatedly been the scene of violence. Patrons who dispute fees have often been threatened or attacked by bouncers, says former Las Vegas city councilman Steve Miller.

He says police were called to the club 737 times in just three years. “Rick Rizzolo made his fortune by paying off crooked cops, politicians, DAs and judges to keep a lid on his and his associates’ criminal activities,” Miller charges. “It will now take the FBI and the IRS to clean up what we on a local level should have had the courage to stop years ago.”

Court papers filed in a Nevada lawsuit against the club by a former federal organized crime prosecutor say, “For years, the management and security staff of the Crazy Horse have been infested by a rogue’s gallery of thugs, thieves, drug pushers and corrupt ex-cops. “Most, if not all, have well documented ties to organized crime figures.”

One Kansas tourist who disputed a tab at the nightclub says he was attacked by a Crazy Horse employee and left paralyzed from the chest down. The club manager accused of the attack, Bobby D’Apice, has convictions for carrying a concealed weapon and having armor-piercing bullets in his gun. U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden has charged D’Apice, 50, with six cases of extortion, robbery and kidnapping, as well as racketeering, prostitution and tax evasion.

In another suit against the club, Crazy Horse bouncers are accused of beating a California man to death. One bouncer was ex-cop Joe Blasko, who was booted off the Las Vegas force and jailed for supplying information to mobster Tony Spilotro. “The Feds know a lot about Rizzolo,” says the Vegas insider.

“They’ve been digging for years, and have had a full-on investigation into suspected fraud, illegal sex and drug violations since August 2001. They raided the place in 2003 with 85 agents, SWAT teams, police, everyone, and spent 11 hours searching the joint.”

Robert De Niro visited the Crazy Horse when he was shooting Casino, but is said not to know Rizzolo at all. Joe Pesci, who is reported to be a friend of the club owner, also starred in Casino. He played a character based on Tony Spilotro, who was beaten with a baseball bat and buried in a cornfield.

Says Rizzolo’s lawyer Tony Sgro, “To suggest any of those [celebrity] friends know anything with regard to the Crazy Horse is absurd.” – PAUL BANNISTER

Photo: Jim Barrier

Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro were also questioned by the Feds
Club owner Rick Rizzolo

(below) let Clooney use the Crazy Horse Too for several scenes in Ocean’s 11

Las Vegas strip club owner Rick Rizzolo "raised some eyebrows” at a Sin City VIP nightclub party thrown by Cindy Crawford’s husband, bar owner Rande Gerber. The reports said the two have known each other since 2001 and “greeted each other warmly” at the party.

And Rizzolo’s lawyer, Tony Sgro, recently confirmed that the FBI “has interviewed some of Mr. Rizzolo’s celebrity make those friends nervous.”

Rizzolo was reportedly friendly enough to turn down $100,000 that the Ocean’s 11 producers offered him for closing down for a few days.

The Feds claim Rizzolo is close to mobsters like Joey Cusumano and was in with the late Tony “The Ant” Spilotro. Rizzolo is also known to have dined a number of times with Chicago Mob capo Joey “The Clown” Lombardo.