Netflix’s ‘Unsolved Mysteries: Death in a Vegas Motel’ delves into the suspicious death of James “Buffalo Jim” Barrier. In April 2008, Jim’s unresponsive body was found in a motel room, with the authorities eventually ruling it an accidental death. However, the family believed there was more to it and felt that Jim’s long-running feud with Rick Rizzolo, then a strip club owner, was the reason for his death. So, if you’re wondering what happened and where Rick might be today, here’s what we know.
Who is Rick Rizzolo?
In the time leading up to the incident, Rick Rizzolo was Jim’s landlord. Rick’s strip club, the Crazy Horse Too, was adjacent to Jim’s auto shop. The two had been at odds with each other for many years, and in 2007, Jim testified that Rick wanted to take over the auto shop to expand the strip club. However, Jim didn’t agree to it. He added that the vehicles at his business were vandalized and towed away.
Rick had long been accused of having ties to organized crime families and was under investigation since at least 1995. The club had a reputation for violence, and Rick was convicted of hitting a customer with a baseball bat in 1985. Furthermore, a tourist, Kirk Henry, claimed that he was beaten up and left outside the club in September 2002, leading to him being paralyzed. As for the federal investigation, the authorities placed wiretaps to garner more information that could lead to Rick’s arrest.
Jim had also been helpful, providing the investigators with photos and other information that ultimately led to Rick taking a plea deal. He pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government and was sentenced to serve 366 days in prison in 2006. As part of the agreement, Rick also gave up control of the strip club and was asked to pay Kirk settlement money in addition to being fined by the government.
However, Rick was released a day before Jim died. On the afternoon of April 6, 2008, Jim was found dead in a motel room in Las Vegas, Nevada. The authorities believed that high levels of cocaine contributed to his death, ruling it an accident. However, the family felt that Rick was murdered and pointed to his history with Rick. Jim had received death threats in the past and letters suggesting that Rick was planning to have him killed. Furthermore, Jim claimed that Rick’s father, Bart, once tried to run him over with an SUV.
Where is Rick Rizzolo Today?
Rick Rizzolo was never charged in relation to Jim’s death but continued to get in trouble with the law for tax evasion. In July 2014, federal authorities indicted him for trying to evade $2.5 million in employment and income taxes. They believed that between June 2006 and May 2011, Rick attempted to conceal the nature and location of his assets, made false statements to IRS, and maintained offshore trust accounts.
In October 2017, Rick, then 58, was sentenced to serve two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion. He admitted to paying employees in cash and underreporting wages. Rick had been working as a Management and Senior Sales Consultant for an import company at the time of his sentencing, a post he had held since August 2012. The company is based out of Henderson, Nevada. From what we can tell, Rick has served his time and has maintained a low profile since then, possibly living in Nevada.