Friday, Aug. 5, 2005 | 10:47 a.m.
Under the weight of a federal racketeering and tax evasion investigation, Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo has been very generous to his longtime wife, Lisa, in a hastily arranged divorce settlement.
While Rizzolo was negotiating with the federal government to try to resolve the expected criminal case, he and his wife filed a joint petition for divorce in Family Court on May 24. They had been married since 1978.
The seven-page petition was written by one of Rizzolo's most trusted lawyers, Dean Patti, who is listed as representing not Rizzolo, but his wife, in the divorce proceedings. Rizzolo, who has a reputation for being a shrewd businessman, is listed as having no attorney of record.
In the petition the couple contended they have become "incompatible" with no chance at reconciliation.
Ten days after the petition was filed, a divorce decree approving its terms was signed by Family Court Judge Steven Jones.
According to a copies of the decree and the petition, Lisa Rizzolo, who is keeping her married name, makes out incredibly well in the deal, as the feds continue to probe her husband's financial affairs.
She gets the couple's 5,763-square-foot home in Canyon Gate, appraised at $944,760, as well as a $1.4 million oceanfront home in Newport Beach, Calif., and a condominium in Chicago that Cook County records say had a market value of $192,638 in 2003.
But that's not all.
Lisa Rizzolo also gets two "Oppenheimer" investment accounts that were holding $7.2 million when the divorce petition was filed in court.
And, starting in January, she receives $83,333 a month from her ex-husband over the next five years. That adds up to $20 shy of $5 million.
Also part of the deal are three luxury cars being put in her name -- a 2002 Mercedes S600 and two late-model Range Rovers.
Rick Rizzolo also is continuing to pay for his "incompatible" ex-wife's health insurance, and he's making her the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policies.
One thing Rizzolo is holding on to is the Crazy Horse Too, which he said under oath in a July 20 deposition grosses between $800,000 and $1 million a month.
He's also keeping a 2005 Mercedes SL65 and a classic 1958 Corvette, as well as "real property and related structures" he owns in Philadelphia.
The split comes as the ailing strip club mogul's world has begun to cave in around him.
Rizzolo, who has heart problems, is under fire in District Court, where a civil lawsuit filed by a Kansas City man who suffered a broken neck at the Crazy Horse is heating up. Rizzolo may have to pay lots of money to Kirk Henry if the club is found liable for the wheelchair-bound tourist's life-altering injury.
The attorneys representing Henry and his family, Don Campbell and Stan Hunterton, both former federal prosecutors, are skeptical of the sudden Rizzolo breakup.
"We both find this circumstance highly unusual," Hunterton said.
There also are skeptics at the federal courthouse, where talks between Rizzolo and the government in the criminal case apparently haven't gone well.
Speculation has been rampant that federal prosecutors once again are preparing to seek charges against Rizzolo stemming from a series of alleged racketeering acts at the Crazy Horse Too.
In such cases, prosecutors usually seek forfeiture proceedings against the defendants aimed at forcing them to surrender financial holdings in their possession that are considered fruits of the criminal acts.
Repeated attempts to reach Rizzolo's lawyer in the criminal case, Tony Sgro, were unsuccessful. Patti also could not be reached for comment.
But the disbelievers have no trouble believing that Rizzolo's divorce may be designed to frustrate potential forfeiture proceedings.
To them, it's the only logical explanation why a sharp businessman would give his ex-wife the deal of a lifetime -- at a time when he appears to be on the verge of losing everything he has to the government.