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VIDEO VAULT | Trouble in Paradise Market

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Discussions about the mob in Las Vegas in the 1970s and 1980s often center around the midwestern outfits that were behind Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, Tony "The Ant" Spilotro and others.

Not all of the organized crime activity involved those groups, however, and it wasn't all on the Strip.

This is the first installment of two-part series talking about a different set of players creating trouble in Paradise -- specifically, the Paradise Market Strip Mall that used to be on the northeast corner of Flamingo and Paradise.

Patrons of the Hungry I in Paradise Market in the early 1980s could dine while enjoying jazz and R&B standards from the likes of '60s chart-topper Doris Troy. The sign out front implied ownership by another popular lounge performer, Chris Fio Rita. But he was a "front man."

The owner of record, Jacquelin Resch, had been granted a liquor license with the stipulation that her father, known mob associate Eli Shapiro, never be allowed to set foot in the joint. Clark County Commissioner Manny Cortez signed off on the license, saying Resch couldn't help who she was related to. Later, he seemed surprised when shady connections were brought to light.

"It's difficult to make that determination until after the fact until it comes to our attention," explained Cortez. "Unless it's part of the initial investigation where somebody's putting up the money for someone else to be licensed."

Shapiro had also had an interest in parts of other Paradise Market businesses. Gus Gallo's Deli—whose namesake was convicted of hiding gambling earnings—and the Crazy Horse topless club, which will get a closer look in the second part of this series.

"Hidden ownership is usually discovered after a sale is made or after a crime like arson has been committed," reported News 3's Dan Burns in September of 1984. He was following up on a fire that had gutted the Hungry I earlier that year.

At the time of the fire, the nightclub's finances were in poor shape.

"The Hungry I was $10,000 behind on its rent payments," continued Burns. "Behind on its insurance payments. And the restaurant's business checking account was about $10 overdrawn."

Shapiro was eventually found guilty of insurance fraud, though he escaped being convicted for arson. New owner Bart Rizollo was rejected in an attempt to get a liquor license to re-open the Hungry I as "Spats." That was because of his association Joseph Montiero, who had taken over the Crazy Horse topless saloon next door after the previous owner's head had been discovered--minus his body--in the desert near Needles.

Clearly, topless had taken on a different meaning at the Crazy Horse. That was just one of several murders explored in the next installment of "Trouble in Paradise Market."

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