Monday, March 23, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
Nebraska philanthropist Terrance K. Watanabe may hold the record for being the biggest deadbeat high roller ever prosecuted by the district attorney’s office. He owes $14.7 million.
But Toronto gambler Semion Kronenfeld, 38, is giving Watanabe a run for his money.
By the time the district attorney’s bad check unit is through investigating Kronenfeld, he is expected to face theft and bad check charges stemming from $12.9 million in unpaid gambling markers.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Bernie Zadrowski, who runs the bad check unit, said an arrest warrant was issued in Las Vegas Justice Court last month for Kronenfeld on a six-count criminal complaint, charging the Toronto businessman with failing to pay $5 million in gambling debts in October at Green Valley Ranch Station Casino.
And the Venetian, Zadrowski said, has since asked him to file criminal charges against Kronenfeld, who also spells his last name Cronenfeld, for his alleged failure to pay another $7.9 million debt at the Strip casino in October.
Kronenfeld, who has an Israeli passport, lists his occupation on casino credit records as the owner of AJGL Developments LTD, an investment real estate company.
The Toronto area phone number of the company listed on the records is disconnected, and other attempts to reach Kronenfeld were unsuccessful.
Another delinquent high roller, Southern California physician Erkan Ereren, is in trouble with the MGM Grand over $2.9 million in gambling markers extended to him at the Strip resort in 2008.
The casino filed suit in District Court last week to recover the gambling debt against Ereren, who listed his occupation on credit records in July 2007 as the chief of staff at Anaheim Memorial Medical Center. A spokeswoman for the medical center said Ereren served as chief of staff from 2003 to 2005.
MGM attorneys sent the 55-year-old surgeon a formal letter Jan. 14 demanding the $2.9 million, according to the lawsuit.
As of last week, the resort had not asked the district attorney to open a criminal investigation.
Ereren could not be reached for comment.
Rick Rizzolo finally testified before a federal grand jury last week.
Attorney Mark Hafer, who accompanied Rizzolo to the grand jury, said the former Crazy Horse Too owner spent about a half-hour answering questions and did not assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Hafer said Rizzolo is not a target of the grand jury, but the attorney would not elaborate on Rizzolo’s testimony.
After an unrelated federal court hearing later that day, Rizzolo, looking fit and sporting a gray goatee, declined to comment on his appearance before the panel.
As first reported here last month, Rizzolo received a subpoena to testify less than a year after serving 10 months in federal prison on a tax conviction.
Just why Rizzolo was hauled before the grand jury isn’t clear. But the word in courthouse circles is that it has something to do with the two-year tax investigation of former City Councilman Michael McDonald. Justice Department attorneys from Washington are handling the McDonald investigation.
At Tuesday’s court hearing, an attorney for a Kansas City area man paralyzed as a result of an altercation outside the Crazy Horse Too alleged that McDonald is “dissipating assets” for Rizzolo and is hiding other assets he received from Rizzolo over the years.
The attorney, Don Campbell, has filed suit in federal court against Rizzolo on behalf of quadriplegic Kirk Henry, alleging the former topless club operator has been concealing assets to avoid paying Henry the remaining $9 million of a $10 million District Court settlement.
Rizzolo has been hoping to pay Henry from the proceeds of the sale of the Crazy Horse Too. But the government — which now has possession of the closed strip club as part of a 2006 criminal plea agreement with Rizzolo — has had little luck marketing the club.
After the hearing, Rizzolo was reluctant to criticize the government, but he clearly was not happy about its failure to sell the Crazy Horse Too.