Bundys, Pete Santilli and other defendants oppose long trial delay in Bunkerville standoff

The majority of the 19 defendants charged in the 2014 Bunkerville standoff — including rancher Cliven Bundy and four of his sons — indicated Friday they want to exercise their constitutional rights and go to trial as soon as possible.

The move appeared to surprise prosecutors, who told a federal judge that they had previously obtained the support of most of the defendants for an eight-month trial delay until February.

Many of the defendants and their lawyers announced in court that they had changed their minds, prompting the lead prosecutor in the case, Steven Myhre, to suggest some were “playing games” with the “extremely serious charges” they are facing.

All 19 defendants, who are in federal custody, appeared together for the first time. They were dressed in jail garb and chains and, with their lawyers, filled up the courtroom, including the jury box. A dozen deputy U.S. marshals were on hand for extra security.

Myhre said the trial delay was needed to give prosecutors more time to turn over to the defendants the massive amount of evidence authorities have collected since the April 12, 2014, armed confrontation with law enforcement near Bunkerville.

Most of the defendants are facing conspiracy, extortion, firearms and assault charges that could land them in prison for the rest of their lives if convicted.

Defense lawyers argued they needed to see the government’s evidence to make an informed decision about giving up their clients’ constitutional speedy-trial rights. The defendants have a right to go to trial within 70 days of being charged.

The defense arguments prompted U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen to order prosecutors to turn over a large portion of the evidence within two weeks.

Leen promised a written decision later on whether to declare the case complex and delay the trial into next year. She issued an order in the meantime putting off the scheduled May 2 trial without setting a new date.

She also ordered defense lawyers to let her know by next Friday their position on the government’s proposed protective order barring the lawyers from giving copies of key trial evidence, including government investigative reports, to the public and media. Prosecutors contend the order is needed to protect the safety of witnesses.

But many of the defense lawyers believe the proposed order is too broad.

Read more: http://www.reviewjournal.com/crime/bundys-other-defendants-oppose-long-trial-delay-bunkerville-standoff

Local NBC Channel 3 broadcasts fabricated Kirstin Lobato hit story

Kirstin Blaise LobatoNBC Channel 3 (KSNV-TV) in Las Vegas broadcast Death in the Desert during its 11 o’clock news on February 29, 2016. Reporter Marie Mortera’s story was about the Kirstin Blaise Lobato case.
Ms. Lobato was convicted in October 2006 of charges related to the July 8, 2001 homicide of Duran Bailey in the trash enclosure for a west Las Vegas bank. Ms. Lobato asserts she is factually innocent, in her habeas corpus petition that is being reviewed by the Nevada Supreme Court.
There are many gravely serious problems with Mortera’s story. Those problems include:
—She fabricated non-existent “evidence” against Ms. Lobato in at least three instances;
—She made a number of misleading and/or deceptive statements;
—She spliced together audio from different parts of Ms. Lobato’s police statement to make them appear contiguous;
—She completely disregarded Ms. Lobato’s new evidence supporting her factual innocence; and,
—She neither reported on, nor questioned, Ms. Lobato’s prosecutor, William Kephart, during his interview relating to the evidence he has known about for more than 14 years, regarding Ms. Lobato’s innocence and his criminal conduct and extensive prosecutor misconduct detailed in Ms. Lobato’s petition. (Kephart is currently an Eighth Judicial [Clark County] District Court Judge.)
More than two weeks before Mortera’s story was broadcast, the Las Vegas Tribune reported in its Feb. 12-18, 2016 issue that the Clark County DA’s Office and Metro PD have known since 2001 that Ms. Lobato was not guilty of Bailey’s homicide.
Ms. Lobato gave an audio-recorded police statement at the time of her arrest. She described that prior to mid-June 2001 she used her pocketknife to fend off an attempted rape at a Budget Suites Hotel on Boulder Highway in east Las Vegas.
The following are eleven “problems” with Mortera’s story, in the order they were broadcast. The “Problem” following each excerpt summarizes what is wrong with Mortera’s commentary or Kephart’s statement.
1. Lobato statement: “I got out of my car, and he came out of nowhere and grabbed me from behind.”
Mortera commentary: “The recording is of then-18-year-old Kirstin Blaise Lobato describing to Metro investigators how a methamphetamine fueled trip to Las Vegas ended in mayhem.”
Problem: Misleading and deceptive. There is no evidence that methamphetamine had anything to do with the Budget Suites Hotel assault, or that Ms. Lobato was on a “trip to Las Vegas” when it occurred.
2. Lobato statement: “He came out of nowhere and grabbed me from behind. I cut his penis, I remember that.”
Problem: Deceptive. Viewers weren’t informed Ms. Lobato’s two sentences were spliced from different parts of her audio statement to make it appear they were together.
3. Lobato statement: “He was …he was crying.”
Mortera commentary: “‘He’ was Duran Bailey, a homeless man, brutally killed.” Problem: Complete fabrication. No evidence in Ms. Lobato’s statement or presented at trial stated that Bailey was the man who assaulted her at the Budget Suites Hotel.
4. Mortera commentary: “Lobato told police Bailey tried to sexually assault her near Boulder Highway in 2001, and to defend herself she pulled out a knife and cut him in the groin.”
Problem: Complete fabrication. Lobato did not tell police Bailey was her assailant; he didn’t physically match the description of her assailant, and she did not recognize Bailey when she was shown a photo of him.
5. Kephart interview: “I am given a task to present evidence that we have, uh, there, there certainly is no evidence that was, you know, uh, manufactured or anything like that. We just present what we have to the jury, and give the jury an opportunity to decide.”
Problem: False statements. Kephart’s lack of honesty could have been exposed by Mortera’s confronting him with the evidence in Ms. Lobato’s habeas petition, showing that the trial transcript documents Kephart used misstated evidence and used manufactured non-existent “evidence” during his opening statements and rebuttal argument to the jury.
Given the gravitas of Kephart’s position as the spokesperson for the State, the jury would be expected to rely on his falsehoods as true.
6. Mortera commentary: “Lobato’s tearful words were described as a confession.” Problem: Complete fabrication. Ms. Lobato’s statement was not “described as a confession” during Kephart’s opening statement.
ADA Sandra DiGiacomo’s closing argument; Kephart’s rebuttal argument; There was no testimony during her trial
that it was a confession.
7. Mortera commentary: “[Michelle] Ravell is Lobato’s surrogate mother and believes Kirstin was back in her home town at the time of Bailey’s killing, not in Las Vegas.”
Problem: Misleading and deceptive. It is not a partisan belief by Ravell that Ms. Lobato was “not in Las Vegas” when Bailey died. Ms. Lobato’s habeas petition includes new forensic evidence unrebutted by the State that Bailey died after 8 p.m. on July 8, 2001, a time when the State has publicly admitted she was in Panaca.
8. Mortera commentary: “So what could get Lobato, now in her 30s, out of prison? Proof of a different killer.”
Problem: Misleading and deceptive. Mortera doesn’t inform viewers that Ms. Lobato’s habeas case pending before the Nevada Supreme Court is seeking a new trial or dismissal of her charges. Her petition includes new forensic evidence proving it is physically impossible for her to have committed Bailey’s homicide.
Mortera’s statement is factually inaccurate because the actual perpetrator was identified in only 9 out of 300 known exoneration s in the U.S. in 2015 — 3 percent of cases.
9. Mortera commentary: “After a decade of courtroom motions, arguments, denials, reversals, and appeals, an offer from the Innocence Project to test DNA from the crime scene, along with a public petition demanding the use of DNA technology, is raising hope for freedom.”
Problem: Misleading and factually incomplete. The Innocence Project offered to pay for DNA testing more than five years ago. Judge Vega sided with the DA Office’s vigorous opposition, and denied Ms. Lobato’s petition for DNA testing in July 2011 — more than four years ago. The change.org petition that DA Steven Wolfson ignored was submitted to him almost three years ago in May 2013.
10. Kephart interview: “I stand behind what we did, um, I have, I have no qualms about what happened, and, and how we prosecuted this matter. I believe it’s completely, uh, justice.”
Problem: Deceptive and misleading. Ms. Mortera didn’t confront Kephart with the incidents documented in Ms. Lobato’s habeas petition of his alleged criminal conduct, his lying to Judge Vega, his misstating of evidence and manufacturing of non-existent “evidence” for the jury, and his serial misconduct that Ms. Lobato asserts deprived her of a fair trial.
11. Mortera commentary: “Lobato, her family, and supporters believe otherwise. They say DNA testing of evidence from the scene, such as a piece of gum that had blood on it, could lead investigators to someone else. All this as Lobato’s appeal moves its way through the courts.”
Problem: Deceptive and misleading. There is no basis in reality for Mortera to create the impression that Ms. Lobato is depending on DNA testing for her exoneration. Regarding “Lobato’s appeal,” Mortera’s story doesn’t make a single mention of Ms. Lobato’s habeas petition pending in the Nevada Supreme Court, which details why she asserts she hasn’t received “justice.” Mortera’s story could have had substance by reporting that Ms. Lobato’s petition includes: new evidence by more than two dozen witnesses supporting Ms. Lobato’s factual innocence; exculpatory evidence Kephart concealed from her during her trial; ineffective assistance of her trial and appellate lawyers, and it documents more than 160 instances of prosecutorial misconduct by Kephart during her trial.
The foregoing starkly demonstrates that Marie Mortera had scant regard for reporting the truth in Death in the Desert. Mortera’s fabrications have earned her the distinction of standing alongside Stephen Glass who produced stories with fabrications at the New Republic, and Jayson Blair who produced stories with fabrications at The New York Times.
Both Glass and Blair were terminated for their conduct. NBC Channel 3 (KSNV-TV) assisted Mortera by choosing to broadcast a story so divorced from the truth, that not even a gossip tabloid like the National Enquirer would have published it in print.
*****
Hans Sherrer is President of the Justice Institute based in Seattle, Washington that conducted a post-conviction investigation of Ms. Lobato’s case, and promotes awareness of wrongful convictions. Its website is, www.justicedenied.org.

More Nevada Judicial Corruption: 2 Las Vegas municipal judges face misconduct allegations

The charges are not criminal, but allege the judges violated the Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct.

Municipal Court Judges Catherine Ramsey and Sean Hoeffgen will have the opportunity to respond to the charges and could face a variety of potential discipline ranging from a letter of reprimand to removal, or possibly be cleared of all charges.

Ramsey is charged with six counts of judicial misconduct. According to the charging document, she used her city purchasing card to pay for a lawsuit, made her assistant do her personal errands, and amended charges in cases against the wishes of both the defense and the prosecutor.

According to the charging document, Ramsey “generally created or fostered an atmosphere of fear and apprehension for the clerks, marshals and her (judicial executive assistant.)”

Hoeffgen is charged with four counts of misconduct, including letting Mayor John Lee influence his decisions involving the court.

According to the charging document, in summer 2013 Hoeffgen decided to go back on an agreement with Ramsey to let her become chief judge, in part, because he believed Lee wanted him to continue on as chief judge. From that point on, Hoeffgen refused to cooperate with Ramsey and “has taken positions or made decisions or allowed it to appear that he has taken positions or made decisions, regarding the administration of the Court which were improperly based on his perceived desires of the North Las Vegas Mayor or City administration instead of the best interests of the Court,” according to the charging document.

Out of Control Crime on the Las Vegas Strip: Who is Responsible?

Bellagio Hotel, Landscape, Las Vegas, Nevada, Photography, Southwest Canyonlands, Travel, USA

The extreme (and intolerable) levels of crime on the Las Vegas Strip became the feature of a series of reports by the ‘I-Team’ from Channel 8. I guess I would have to wonder if Captain Tomaino and Deputy Chief Schofield gave permission for the ride-alongs and the details to be provided to the public because the story was not pretty. Heads can ‘roll’ when Metro is embarrassed, just like they did when the helicopter was used for a marriage proposal and when Stanley Gibson was killed due to radio problems and other communication failures.
There have also been other incidents when ‘censorship’ failed. The first story in the series, ‘New breed of criminal on the Las Vegas Strip’ reported on trick rolls that turn into assaults and robberies.
The reality is that there is nothing ‘new’ about the disorder and violence on the Strip. Featured Officer (Calvin Wandick) is indeed a ‘supercop’ and he described the pedestrian bridges as a circus. He can’t say it, but one of the reasons (for the continuing disorder and violence) is that the Metro administration did not listen to street cops up to a decade ago.
(MY EXPERIENCE: I’ve got plenty of written records and documentation where as a patrol officer and as a supervisor I was trying to draw some attention to what was happening. We were ignored because Metro Vice under former Lieutenant Karen Hughes and Sgt. John Hayes and the casino cabals did not want us to deal with the prostitution-related crime. They wanted it to be solely their ‘turf’ and, I’m afraid, they ‘reaped’ the rewards, while some of us were RAPED of our policing careers. This is no exaggeration folks!) Wandick went on to describe robberies, hustlers and drug peddlers along with rampant prostitution that is, ‘more about robbery than sex.’ Sgt. Mike Ford explained, “Prostitution is at a whole different level than any of us have ever seen up here on the Strip. It’s really taken over. It’s exploded.” More than half of the felonies and acts of violence are linked to the robbery rings that use prostitutes as bait.
Gangs, teams of pickpockets, major drug operations, auto theft up and down the Strip are nightly realities.
The I-Team was given total access to tag along with the teams who are on the front lines. Veteran officers say they’ve never seen anything like it. There’s a new breed of criminal on the Strip. They’re highly organized, relentless, and ubiquitous. Metro is out there every night, but at times it feels like trying to hold back the ocean with their fingers. It takes a special breed of cop to handle this work.
(MY EXPERIENCE: The ‘special’ cops better be on guard that they will have to deal with the ‘politics’ of the Strip and the ‘corrupted’ policing system on the Strip).
“A new wave and new breed of working girls is at the heart of the crime explosion in the tourist corridor. Prostitution is linked to more than half of the serious crime Metro sees each night, including
assaults and homicides. It’s not a victimless offense.” “You have your trick rolls, your pickpockets, gang involvement, pimp involvement.
There’s a lot of violence, said Sgt. Francois Obasi, Metro team leader on the Strip.”
“Two squads of uniformed officers work the Strip at night. Their nightly briefings are loaded with tales of new and egregious crimes and suspects. A jewelry store hit for $700,000, two white females pulling armed robberies out of their car, a kidnapping scam targeting locals. It’s a depressing lineup of villainy, but on this night, the team got good news from their captain. Reinforcements are on the way.
The squads will increase from six to 10 officers each. They’ll need it.
(MY EXPERIENCE: It is not only the number of officers on a squad. It really comes down to having crime fighters rather than secretaries with a badge. Far too many officers will only take a report and will avoid making an arrest or being assertive because they are either lazy or only care about ‘career survival.’ At one point, I would say this is a farce. After losing my job because I was targeted, I have to say that career survival IS a valid choice—albeit cowardly and selfish in some ways.)
I was surprised to see that officers are now actually entering casinos and seeking out known and suspected prostitutes. “At least once a night, they march into one or more casino properties to disrupt the rampant prostitution trade that has overwhelmed hotel security teams.
They are organized (criminal) operations that are more about robbery than sex. The tourist hopes for a clandestine romp. The prostitutes and pimps have a whole different game plan. They want to take everything. You know, they want the money, the property, the credit cards, everything” Officer Wandick said.” During one foray into a casino, six suspects were ‘corralled’ within 10 minutes.
(MY EXPERIENCE: I worked the Strip under Captain Charles Hank and Captain Todd Fasulo; we were strongly cautioned about doing foot patrols inside the hotel/casino doors. Casino ‘big wigs’ didn’t like Metro lurking around on their property and several of them are former Metro employees and administrators. They were not shy in expressing their opinions to force us out and only enter the ‘back door’ when they had suspects in custody in their holding rooms.)
If you haven’t been to the Strip lately, be forewarned!!
(MY EXPERIENCE: This is not going to make the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority happy). Uniformed Strip officers are the ‘first line of defense’ projecting a strong police presence on the streets and sidewalks.
The word, “Predators” was used to describe prostitution rings that are now prominent in most casinos with nightclubs and how prevalent criminals were on the Strip.
(MY EXPERIENCE: I have multiple emails where I used the same descriptive word about the criminals on the Strip nearly a DECADE ago but I could not have pronounced it publicly).
Ford claimed, “There are five or more trick rolls per night and many more that are never reported because the victim doesn’t want his wife to know.” “They show up, get to your room, spike your drink with a sedative and you wake up 15 hours later with your Rolex and credit cards missing; all that stuff is gone.” Ford also referred to gangs involved in human trafficking and he pointed out dozens of people selling narcotics and also smut peddlers and how they sometimes ‘work’ together. Teams of five or more thieves will hit a club and walk out with as many as 40 cell phones in a night. “Absolutely, it’s organized crime,” said Sgt. Ford (referring to nightclub thefts).
Tragically, Sgt. Mike Ford passed away at the same time that the series was being aired. The I-Team had been working with Ford for several weeks in setting up the stories. George Knapp made a concluding statement, “One thing he (Sgt. Ford) wanted to see happen is for elected officials and maybe some casino bosses to ride along and see for themselves what it is like out there at night.” Ford was right about the importance of awareness but we also tried this strategy a DECADE ago! I found that Metro administrators couldn’t care less and I don’t suspect anything will change this time. There is nobody responsible for restoring order or stopping the beat downs and brain bleeds! Metro’s Merry-Go-Round continues on the Strip.
Norm Jahn served with the LVMPD for over 21 years and achieved the rank of lieutenant. He also served as a police chief in Wisconsin for over three years. Jahn has been a university professor and also taught in the criminal justice program at the College of Southern Nevada for over a decade. Jahn received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a master’s degree from UNLV. He has researched police performance and the management and leadership of police departments.
His weekly column focuses on current policing issues, especially those involving the LVMPD. Norm provides ‘insight with an edge’ to inform the public and improve policing. He can be reached at normjahn@icloud.com.

SOURCE: http://lasvegastribune.net/control-crime-las-vegas-strip-responsible/

Bill would stop Las Vegas court from operating as ‘collection agency’ | Las Vegas Review-Journal

money-greedy1By JAMES DeHAVEN- LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

The Las Vegas Municipal Court wants to be able to arrest scofflaws, but it doesn’t necessarily want to lock them up.

Lawyers, defendants and bail bondsmen familiar with the court say it is willing to threaten defendants with arrest in order to collect millions of dollars in traffic fines and fix-it tickets every year but will do everything in its power to avoid actually throwing those defendants in jail, where it costs the city $175 per day to feed and house an average prisoner.

More than 18,000 people were arrested for nonviolent, nonmoving violations in Las Vegas in 2014, according to jail records obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A handful found themselves in cuffs for offenses as minor as littering or spitting on the sidewalk.

These are arrests both Metro and Municipal Court officials say they go out of their way to avoid, though nearly half of last year’s apprehensions were initiated by a bench warrant — arrest orders signed off on by judges looking to force low-level offenders to appear in court.

Combine Las Vegas’ arrest totals with $67 million — the amount of revenue the Municipal Court collected from those facing low-level traffic or nonmoving violations over the past four years — and one might be forgiven for calling the court “money hungry,” as several city employees have in recent weeks.

Or accusing its judges of overseeing a “racket,” as a Las Vegas bail bondsman did last week.

Or else suggesting Nevada law­makers are complicit in the creation of a statewide court “collection agency,” as Assembly­woman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, did in testimony before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in late March.

Fiore has twice sponsored a bill that would go some way toward crippling that collection agency. Twice, that legislation has been snuffed out by opposition from judges and court officials.

Preserving the threat of arrest is something the Las Vegas court has proved perhaps especially willing to fight for — whether that means lobbying to defeat Fiore-sponsored legislation or making life difficult for private bail bondsmen who earn a living by hauling in defendants at no cost to the public.

So far, it’s a fight the court is winning.

“It’s all about the money,” a visibly frustrated Fiore said toward the end of a March 30 committee hearing. “Thirty-six other states do not think speeding is a crime. Nevada is quite unique.

“We arrest people as a collection agency, and that is not why we are elected.”

FIORE’S DECRIMINALIZATION BILL

Fiore, who represents roughly 64,500 Las Vegans north of Cheyenne Avenue near U.S. Highway 95, has twice brought a bill to the capital that would decriminalize minor traffic violations, legislation she said was inspired by constituents who were arrested or forced to spend time behind bars over a traffic ticket.

Her latest attempt, Assembly Bill 281, still would allow local courts to make arrests in DUI, aggressive driving and other, more serious traffic cases.

Local government and Municipal Court opposition appears to have brought the legislation to a halt in committee, where it likely will be converted into an interim legislative study — the same fate that befell Fiore’s first stab at the statute in 2013.

Fiscal notes from last month’s hearing on AB281 suggest local governments would lose as much as $33 million in combined annual fine and fee revenue if Fiore’s bill were to become law. Those figures don’t include the Clark County district attorney’s office, which spends 15 percent to 25 percent of its time on traffic tickets and could divert millions of dollars into investigating more serious crimes if those offenses were decriminalized, Fiore staffer Dan Burdish told legislators.

Las Vegas officials project their city would lose up to $16 million in each of the next three fiscal years under the proposed statute, which Municipal Court Administrator Dana Hlavac testified against in March.

He was joined by judges from Stateline, Las Vegas and Carson City, jurists who fretted over the bill’s “problematical” consequences for court revenue streams.

One judge worried that fewer defendants would pay court fines without the threat of arrest hanging over their heads. Another shuddered to think that the bill could create a “subculture” of such traffic court scofflaws.

A third feared the bill would divert court fine and fee revenue to the state and away from local jurisdictions, despite Fiore’s repeated assurances that those dollars would stay where they are.

The two-term assemblywoman’s staff reported they already had made changes in the draft legislation that addressed many of those concerns, including one that would allow municipalities to continue collecting up to $1,000 on a single civil penalty.

Assemblymen David Gardner, R-Las Vegas, and James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, stood up for the bill as written, as did representatives with the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and the Clark County and Washoe County public defender’s offices.

Each of those lawmakers, like Fiore, spoke as if the bill struck a personal chord.

“There are law-abiding people that get very busy with their lives and forget to pay one of their infractions,” Ohrenschall said. “I think that’s the concern a lot of us have and would like to see corrected.

“A night in jail may mean losing a job, so I think there’s a lot of collateral consequences we’re trying to fix.”

BAIL BONDSMEN TAKE A HIT

Blackjack Bonding’s Mike Taylor said the ripple effects of traffic court practices don’t stop at the courtroom door.

The bail bond industry — itself no stranger to allegations of shaking down vulnerable courtroom defendants — used to thrive in Las Vegas. Now, Taylor said, it is wilting under pressure from a Municipal Court system that wants to run it out of town.

Taylor said the city and county jails routinely refuse to jail defendants that he has managed to arrest or locate, opting instead simply to take cash from those scofflaws to quash a bench warrant.

He said both municipal and state prosecutors regularly collect bail from his and other companies anyway, arguing the bondsmen failed, by the court’s definition, to force a defendant to make an appearance, even when that defendant already has bought his or her way out of a bench warrant requiring them to show up at court.

That allows the court to get paid twice: once from the bond company and again when city marshals manage to find and bill court-enriching bench warrant fines to the bailed-out defendant.

Thanks to these and other pitfalls, Taylor and other Las Vegas bondsmen say they simply have stopped bothering to arrest defendants.

He said the court figures that every dollar a defendant doesn’t give a bondsman is a dollar the court eventually can collect itself, though such a policy could mean leaving unsavory characters on the streets.

“The court system has decided they don’t want bail bondsmen,” Taylor said. “They think they’re cutting out the middle­man, but when they cut (defendants) loose, there’s no one out there watching them.”

Taylor said the court has been known to go through even more elaborate contortions to wring fees out of would-be Las Vegas prisoners at the Clark County Detention Center.

In those cases, he said, the court simply will refuse to let the county jail hand over offenders with an outstanding Las Vegas court warrant after they are done serving time for a county offense, instead encouraging county jail officials to release those prisoners to the streets.

Once the prisoners are released from county custody, city marshals can and often do catch up with them, billing court-enriching warrant fines and all manner of administrative fees to someone the county could have transferred into Las Vegas court custody at no cost to the defendant or the court.

Taylor’s account of the system was backed by longtime Las Vegas bail bondsman Paul Caruso, who said he, too, had stopped looking to bail out many court defendants.

Court Administrator Hlavac said it was his understanding that the city and the county trade inmates as many as four times a day. He said his court follows state laws governing bond writing and bail forfeiture and suggested the city’s jail wouldn’t turn away an inmate except for “issues such as a medical clearance.”

“The court does not compete with any entity,” Hlavac wrote in an email Thursday. “We serve the public as a whole in assuring that those who are alleged to have violated the laws are treated fairly and that those who are found to have violated the laws of our community are held accountable in accordance with the laws established by the elected leaders of our city and state.”

‘PAY OR GO TO JAIL’

City employees say Hlavac’s court is dead set on padding its bottom line and will continue to pursue those defendants who don’t pay up with jail time, a practice that tends to disproportionately harm poor and minority defendants who are less likely to be able to afford the court’s average $300 to $400 fine.

They have called such an approach to revenue collection “coercion,” part of a “pay-or-go-to-jail” system not unlike one U.S. Justice Department investigators uncovered in a scathing March report on unconstitutional, revenue-driven policing and courtroom practices in Ferguson, Mo. That’s where weeks of rioting and grand jury proceedings followed the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an African-American, at the hands of a white police officer in August.

The officer, Darren Wilson, has not faced criminal charges in connection with that death.

Las Vegas court officials dispute the Ferguson comparison, explaining they do not “force people to pay money they can’t pay just so we can keep running our business.”

Forced or not, the court has found ways to squeeze more money out of fewer cases.

Per-case revenue is up 124 percent since fiscal year 2003, despite a 36 percent drop in the number of cases filed.

That’s thanks in part to several fine and fee hikes enacted over the past decade, including some changes that could see defendants spend months or years paying the court hundreds or thousands of dollars in late fees before even starting to pay down an initial past-due fine.

Critics chalk up the rest of the court’s revenue gains to a system that aims to leave criminals on the street, where it’s easier for the court to keep a hand in their wallet.

Records obtained by the Review-Journal show the Municipal Court collected $23 million in mis­demeanor fines, fees and administrative assessments in 2014.

Some of that came from criminals with multiple battery or domestic violence convictions who paid fines tied to a lesser sentence or on top of jail time.

More of it came from ordinary residents charged with minor traffic offenses such as speeding or using a cellphone behind the wheel.

But the biggest chunk of the court’s citations came from people facing other traffic offenses — those who had let their car registration lapse, or who forgot to keep a copy of their auto insurance in the glove box.

Las Vegas marshals and Metro police arrested more than 11,000 individuals who committed such administrative violations in 2014, according to jail records.

That’s more than three times the total authorities cuffed for misdemeanor DUI, reckless driving and hit-and-run charges combined.

It’s also 600 more than the combined tally of arrests made on low-level drug, weapon, theft, assault and domestic violence charges.

“It’s all about the money,” said bail bondsman Taylor. “It has nothing to do with public safety.

“They talk about releasing people with victimless crimes. That’s bull——.”

Contact James DeHaven at jdehaven@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3839. Find him on Twitter: @JamesDeHaven.

Metro cop accused of using excessive force after body-cam video reviewed

metro-patch_t653A Metro Police officer is facing a misdemeanor battery count for using excessive force in detaining a woman earlier this year, according to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office.
The case was initiated, police said, after officials reviewed video from a body camera the officer was wearing.

Officer Richard Scavone approached the woman about 5 a.m. on Jan. 6 near Tropicana Avenue and Interstate 15 and told her she was loitering and needed to move along, the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. He suspected she was there for the purpose of prostitution, officials said.

The woman responded by throwing a cup of coffee over her shoulder, not in the direction of the officer, and refused to leave, officials said.

Scavone got out of his car and while detaining the woman, he “used force and violence against her, which was not justified or required for purposes of his investigation,” the District Attorney’s Office said.

The woman initially was arrested on counts of littering and loitering for the purpose of prostitution, but the case was later dismissed, Metro Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said at a news conference today.

The counts were not supported by video captured by the officer’s body camera, he said.

According to a Metro statement, after it was reported that the woman was injured, officials reviewed the video and launched a criminal investigation. The officer’s actions were determined to be “unreasonable and excessive,” the statement said.

Scavone, an eight-year veteran of the force, is on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the criminal case and an ongoing internal investigation, police said.

“This is the first time that I’m aware of that we are bringing criminal charges associated with the review of a body camera on an on-duty use of force incident,” Metro Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said at a news conference today.

“We’re not going to shy away from bringing these incidents to light when the body camera captures actions of one of our officers that does not appear to be within the confines of law and policy,” McMahill said.

Police said they could not release the video, because it is part of the internal investigation.

About 200 Metro officers are wearing body cameras, which clip onto the the shoulder or pair of glasses, as part of a pilot program that started in November. Metro is seeking another 400 cameras in the 2015-16 budget, McMahill said.

A bill proposed in the state Legislature this year pushes for all officers in Nevada to wear cameras.

The the vast majority of police officers handle themselves in a professional and appropriate manner, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said. “For those who take it too far, there are consequences,” he said.

Las Vegas Police officer Richard Scavone charged in battery of suspected prostitute

hookerA Las Vegas police officer is on paid leave after being charged with roughing up a woman suspected of being a prostitute.

Metro officer Richard Scavone, 48, is accused of using unlawful force on the woman, the Clark County district attorney’s office announced Tuesday. He faces a misdemeanor battery charge.

He has not been arrested.

Scavone stopped a woman about 5 a.m. Jan. 6 near where Tropicana Avenue crosses Inter­state 15, the district attorney said in a news release. The officer said the woman was loitering, trying to solicit work as a prostitute.

When Scavone told her to move, the DA said, the woman refused and threw a cup of coffee over her shoulder — not in the officer’s direction. The officer then got out of his car to arrest the woman and “used force and violence against her, which was not justified or required for purposes of his investigation,” the DA’s office said in a news release.

Scavone’s supervisors investigated his use of force and deemed it was “not only excessive, it was unreasonable,” Las Vegas police Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said Tuesday during a news conference. Metro submitted the case to the district attorney’s office for prosecution.

McMahill said Scavone was wearing a body camera during the incident but that footage would not be released yet.

“I can tell you that she did have a mark on her face at the conclusion of this incident,” McMahill said. “It appears to have come from the interaction with officer Scavone.”

The woman Scavone is accused of battering initially was charged with littering and loitering, McMahill said, but those charges have been dismissed.

“Police officers deal with a wide variety of situations, and the vast majority handle themselves in a professional and appropriate manner,” District Attorney Steve Wolfson said in a written statement. “For those who take it too far, there are consequences.”

In March 2010, Scavone was placed on routine paid administrative leave after shooting a burglary suspect.

McMahill would not comment on Scavone’s use of force prior to January. Scavone has worked at Metro for eight years.

The same year Scavone shot someone, he received a Metro award for “Meritorious Service,” given “for a highly unusual accomplishment under adverse conditions with some degree of hazard to life,” according to the department website.

Contact Kimberly De La Cruz at Kdelacruz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Find her on Twitter: @KimberlyinLV.

Dr. Feelgood: Las Vegas doctor threw drug, swinger sex parties at his Henderson home

A former Clark County School District administrator named Priscilla Rocha admitted guilt in a scheme to steal and misuse public money.

Priscilla Rocha

Priscilla Rocha

LAS VEGAS — A former Clark County School District administrator admitted guilt in a scheme to steal and misuse public money.

Priscilla Rocha, and three co-defendants including her son, accepted plea deals which resulted in many charges being dropped.

Rocha pleaded guilty to one count of theft and one count of unlawful use of public money. She also agreed to pay $132,000 in restitution.

The 8 News NOW I-Team broke the story more than a year ago.

Rocha, who was in charge of the district’s Adult English Language Acquisition program, misused hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money. She admitted to taking public money for personal use.

“I misappropriated funds for a tutoring service,” Rocha said.

Investigators say the tutoring service Rocha funded with school money had bogus instructors who were paid for teaching that never happened.

She said she took the plea deal because of her health.

“It affected by health. So I decided to come to terms with this so I can concentrate on getting better,” Rocha said.

Under the plea deal, 50 criminal counts against Rocha were dropped. Although Rocha could get probation out of the deal, the prosecutor says he aims to put her behind prison walls because nearly $300,000 of public money is gone.

“At the end of the day, that’s a heck of a lot of money. If anything deserves prison, I believe that deserves prison,” said prosecutor J.P. Raman.

Rocha’s son, Jerome, also took a plea deal and also faces prison.

The plea deals come nearly a year after Metro and school police served search warrants at Rocha’s district offices. Investigators say Rocha used money from her language program, which helps adults with limited English skills, to buy computers and other goods which were sold or given away.

The two lesser co-defendants who also took plea deals could have their charges reduced from felonies to gross misdemeanors if they complete probation successfully.

Rocha’s sentencing is scheduled for June 30.

Cops TV Show Cop Chokes Intoxicated Peaceful Man

COPS TV Show, Caught in the Act II, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Sgt. Tom Jenkins of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department investigates a public disturbance. When the officer attempts to question a hostile male individual, he is forced to physically retrain the man when he does not comply with directives. The intoxicated man curses the officer during questioning and sobs openly when he’s arrested.

Las Vegas Security Guards Beat Man for Dancing; Swipe Camera from Witness Recording Beating

A Las Vegas security guard ripped the phone out of a man’s hands as he was recording a group of other security guards beating a man for having danced on the sidewalk, smashing the phone on the sidewalk and damaging it.

The video survived showing about a minute of security guards piling on a man and punching him as another security guard tries to keep the man from recording.

However, when a Las Vegas Metropolitan police officer arrived on the scene to investigate, he had no interest in viewing it.

“Get the fuck out of here,” the cop told him. “This doesn’t concern you.”

The incident took place February 12 in front of a video arcade bar in downtown Las Vegas called Insert Coins, for whom the guards beating the man were employed. The guard trying to keep the man from recording appeared to work somewhere else.

And the guard who snatched the man’s phone, worked for the Griffin, a bar across the street. He has since been fired.

However, Christopher LaPorte, owner of Insert Coins, quickly defended his guards as having done nothing wrong.

The man who recorded it is remaining anonymous but has retained an attorney, Stephen P. Stubbs, who posted the video on his Youtube channel with the following description:

On the evening of February 12, 2015, A man (who appeared to be homeless and/or under the influence of drugs/alcohol) was dancing on the sidewalk in front of Insert Coins on Fremont Street.

Security guards were yelling at him to leave and the dancing man ignored them (continued dancing). When the Security guards taunted the dancing man to attack them, my client (who does not wish to come forward with his identity) took out his phone and started recording.

A security guard attacked the dancing man, beat him up and continued to choke and beat him even after he was lying motionless on the ground. A plain closed security guard tried to obstruct my client from videotaping the incident and even physically pushed him away.

A security guard from the Griffin on Fremont then crossed the street, attacked my client, grabbed his phone and smashed it on the ground (destroying it).

My client waited for the police, tried to make a statement and told LVMPD that he had video. A LVMPD Officer ordered him to “Get the f@!! out of here. This doesn’t concern you”. My client left (fearing that he would be arrested) and contacted me.

The video, which so far has almost 3,000 views, prompted LaPorte to state the following on Facebook.

Insert Coins

But when Stubbs visited LaPorte to see the surveillance video, he reported that it proved the security guards were the ones initiating contact.

 

Insert Coins 2
Insert Coins 3

Nevada Cop Block, which has been reporting on this story since last week, staged a protest along with a local activist group called Southern Nevada Watchdogs in front of Insert Coins. The activists wrote messages with chalk on the sidewalk near the business’ entrance while showing the video to pedestrians as well as talking about it through a megaphone.

 

Insert-Coins-Protest6

Insert-Coins-Protest

LAS VEGAS POLICE KEEP WORKING GIRLS FROM “WORKING THE STRIP”

Las Vegas working girlsCall it a unique kind of most wanted list or simply an attempt to clamp down on the area’s worst-kept secret.

Working off a roster of the reputed 50 “most prolific prostitutes” in Clark County, Las Vegas police and prosecutors are taking unprecedented steps to keep repeat prostitution offenders off the Strip.

Some are criticizing the law enforcement crackdown as overly aggressive. And it comes at a time when some policymakers are talking about eventually legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution in the Las Vegas Valley.

The Vice Enforcement Top Offenders (VETO) list, which took the vice unit two years to compile, has the names of women with the longest prostitution-related criminal records in Clark County, said Lt. Karen Hughes.

Most of the women on the list have been convicted of exchanging sex for money or of prostitution-related theft charges inside several Strip hotels, not for street prostitution.hooker

Within days of launching the crackdown, police over Super Bowl weekend arrested 13 of the women on charges of soliciting prostitution, loitering for the purposes of prostitution, or trespassing, police records show.

In all, 24 of the 50 women on the list were arrested between Jan. 28 and Feb. 13, all on misdemeanor charges.

Six on the list were arrested twice during that period.

Those arrested range in age from 20 to 41.

Police declined a request by the Review-Journal for the entire VETO list.

Hughes said it is time to stop the revolving door of prostitution-related arrests, especially when those arrests involve “trick rolls,” in which prostitutes steal from men.

“We’re talking about girls who have been arrested repeatedly over the years, ones that we all know by face and by name,” said Hughes, citing one woman who was arrested 18 times in a single year.

“If they get the message that Las Vegas is not going to ignore their subsequent arrests, then maybe they’ll take their lifestyle to a different city,” she said.

Or at least to a different part of Clark County.

In a memo to prosecutors about VETO cases, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Lalli last month told his staff to offer plea agreements that would include possible jail time and an order that defendants “refrain from entering the resort corridor” for a period of six or 12 months.

The guilty plea offer also will include 100 hours of community service and mandatory attendance of an AIDS awareness class.

If caught back in the resort corridor for any reason other than lawful employment or residency, the subject will be rearrested and given jail time, Lalli’s memo said.

City and county ordinances have allowed for so-called “order-out zones” in downtown Las Vegas and the Strip since the late 1990s.

In the past, order-outs usually were agreed to by defendants in exchange for probation.

Hughes spoke about the VETO program and the general problem of prostitution at a meeting of Justice Court judges last month.

The judges were briefed on the initiative even before the sheriff was.

Her appearance before the justices of the peace is problematic, said Gary Peck, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. “It’s a cause for real concern when police are going to judges and promoting their policy for cleaning up the Strip.”

Peck also wondered whether police are relying so heavily on a Top 50 list that it will lead to prostitution arrests without probable cause. Such arrests would pave the way for the issuance of order-outs.

“It would be troubling if this list is being used as a substitute for sound police judgment,” he said.

Hughes said police won’t make initial prostitution-related arrests without proof that a new crime has been committed.

“Just because they’re on the list doesn’t mean they’re going to jail,” she said.

Lalli said he hopes the VETO effort will put a dent in prostitution. He cited special prosecution guidelines on other crimes such as car theft, which has been dwindling recently, as evidence that crackdowns work.

“Prostitution is one of those areas that brings with it a whole host of undesirable things,” Lalli said. “If you’re a prostitute out there, the message is, ‘Don’t commit your act of prostitution around here.’ ”

Hughes said new names probably would be added to the VETO list once the first set of cases goes through the court system.

She said law enforcement’s tough approach to the problem could give way to a push for other alternative sentences for prostitutes and even a court that hears only prostitution cases.

Mayor Oscar Goodman, whose jurisdiction doesn’t include the Strip, questioned whether a crackdown on prostitutes is the best public policy. He said pimps should be the main targets of law enforcement.

“It’s the exploiters of these women who are the real villains here,” Goodman said. “I have a deep and abiding conviction that they are the primary offenders.”

Just because police don’t have a list of the most prolific pimps doesn’t mean the vice unit is ignoring that part of the problem in its undercover operations, Hughes said.

“We’ve got two investigative teams that deal with nothing but pimps,” she said. “But we also want to minimize opportunities for prostitutes to be aggressive with the tourists and with men who aren’t interested in that.”

Citing more than 5,000 prostitution arrests last year by the vice unit along the Strip, a 46 percent increase from the number two years ago, Hughes said she is concerned that prostitution hurts tourism and creates a bad image for Las Vegas.

“Vice has always had a zero tolerance on prostitution,” Hughes said. “There’s more work out there than we can wrap our arms around. Our hope is that we convey to prostitutes and pimps who operate here that this is not an easy city to make money.”

She rallied support for the VETO effort at a meeting of hotel security chiefs earlier this month.

Several hotel officials contacted by the Review-Journal didn’t return phone calls.

Hotels are just one place police are looking for prostitutes, Hughes said. Their attention is also directed on the street and at “erotic services” advertised in print and online publications.

In a related effort, undercover female officers make arrests of men who try to hire prostitutes. This group tends to be less apt to reoffend, according to Hughes.

As police ratchet up efforts to reduce prostitution, Goodman renewed his call for a discussion about options for legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution.

“If I were to engage in discussion, I’d be thinking in terms of a Little Amsterdam,” a red-light district with legalized brothels, he said. “But I’m not advocating it.”

Prostitution is legal in 10 rural Nevada counties, but not in Clark or Washoe counties.

Goodman said legalized and regulated brothels over time could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for this area.

State Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the Senate Taxation Committee, said last month he was open to the idea of holding a legislative hearing to discuss legalizing and taxing prostitution in the state’s urban counties.

It appears, however, that the Legislature will not act on that idea this session.

At a recent meeting of the Review-Journal editorial board, Sheriff Doug Gillespie spoke out strongly against such proposals.

For now, Goodman said, Las Vegas police should enforce the laws on the book.

Barbara Brents, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said she is surprised that law enforcement would focus so heavily on cracking down on prostitution.

“It seems pretty hypocritical to me to have an economy based on sexualizing women and then to come down on the women when police want to make it seem like they’re enforcing the law,” she said. “It’s coming down on women who are least able to fight back.”

Defense attorney James “Bucky” Buchanan, who has defended many clients accused of prostitution, sees practical problems with the effort.

“As much as Metro wants to do this, it’s just going to clog the courts,” he said. “I don’t think Metro has thought out the consequences and financial impact of this.”

On the bright side, Buchanan said, the crop of VETO arrests will make a lot of money for attorneys like him.

Contact reporter Alan Maimon at amaimon @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0404.

‘Million Dollar Burglar’ alleges false imprisonment in lawsuit against Nevada police

A man who was dubbed “The Million Dollar Burglar” by Las Vegas police now claims he was falsely imprisoned for 16 months.

Bryan Hiser, 34, also claims Nevada prison officials placed him in solitary confinement as punishment for complaining about his illegal detention.

Hiser made the allegations in a civil rights lawsuit filed Jan. 30 against the Nevada Department of Corrections and the Metropolitan Police Department. He is represented by attorneys at Potter Law Offices.

Prison and police representatives declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in Clark County District Court.

When Hiser was arrested in December 2010, police recovered less than $200,000 of the millions in stolen property he was suspected of taking. He later accepted a plea bargain and agreed to be sentenced as a habitual offender.

In June 2012, District Judge Michelle Leavitt sentenced Hiser to two consecutive terms of 10 years to life under the state’s habitual offender law. Hiser already was serving a five-year term in the federal system for being a felon in possession of stolen firearms.

According to Hiser’s lawsuit, Leavitt vacated his judgment of conviction on Jan. 31, 2013. Hiser then “served 16 months in the custody of NDOC without a judgment of conviction,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims Hiser was placed in solitary confinement, “with lockdown 23 hours out of 24 hours,” as punishment for complaining to prison officials that he was being illegally detained.

Hiser was transferred to the Clark County Detention Center, and the judge ordered that he stay there, according to the lawsuit. However, the complaint alleges, jail officials “maliciously transferred” him back to prison.

At a May 2014 hearing, according to the lawsuit, the judge stated:

“Yeah, after everything I did. They even called my office, and I said, ‘You cannot.’ And CCDC was saying, ‘We’re transporting him back.’ And I said, “No, you cannot. He’s not under a term of imprisonment.’ Then the NDOC was pretending that they didn’t. OK, I think it’s bad. And I would suggest the state of Nevada intervene.”

Defendants in Hiser’s lawsuit include various wardens and caseworkers.

According to the document, “Mr. Hiser repeatedly advised each and every defendant of the fact that he was falsely imprisoned, however each of the defendants chose to continue to maliciously imprison Mr. Hiser with deliberate indifference to his constitutional rights.”

When Hiser made his claims of false imprisonment, according to the lawsuit, the defendants punished him by transferring him from the county jail to the state prison system, transferring him from High Desert State Prison to Ely State Prison, and detaining him in solitary confinement.

Before Hiser’s June 2012 sentencing, lead prosecutor Noreen DeMonte penned a report that included more than 100 pages of Hiser’s criminal history.

At the hearing, prosecutor Marc Schifalacqua summed up Hiser’s criminal record by saying, “Mr. Hiser has been a one-man crime wave for approximately the last 13 years here in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s been burglary after theft after burglary. This one man has affected dozens, if not hundreds, of people’s lives.”

Deputy Public Defender Michael Wilfong tried unsuccessfully to persuade Leavitt to give Hiser two concurrent sentences, which would have made him eligible for parole after 10 years, instead of consecutive sentences.

Neither Wilfong nor DeMonte could be reached for comment on what occurred in Hiser’s case after his first sentencing hearing. Schifalacqua no longer works for the Clark County district attorney’s office.

In an order signed Jan. 31, 2013, Leavitt vacated Hiser’s sentence and ruled that he “will be re-sentenced at a later date.”

Minutes from an August 2014 hearing reflect that Leavitt resentenced him to two concurrent terms of 10 years to life. Prison records indicate that Hiser is serving his sentence at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer.

METRO PROPAGANDA: Why I became a Metro police officer.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (also known as the LVMPD or Metro) is a joint city-county police force for the City of Las Vegas and Clark County, Nevada. It is headed by the Sheriff of Clark County, elected every four years. The current Sheriff of Clark County is Joseph Lombardo who became sheriff in January 2015. The sheriff is the only elected head law enforcement officer within the county, and, as such, the department is not under the direct control of the city, county or state.

Metro is the largest law enforcement agency in the state of Nevada, and one of the largest police agencies in the United States.[1]

Metro detective booked for DUI after falling asleep at wheel

A Las Vegas Police Department detective was arrested on a drunken driving charge over the weekend, the agency announced Monday.

The detective, Russell Backman, reportedly fell asleep at the wheel just before 4 a.m. Sunday near the intersection of Hualapai Way and Sahara Avenue, according to a Metro news release.

Responding officers determined Backman was intoxicated, police said. He was arrested and transported to the Clark County Detention Center.

Backman has been with the Las Vegas police since 2000 and is currently assigned to the Organized Crime Bureau. Because he works undercover, Metro said it would not release his mug shot.

This is a developing story. Check back here for details.

Las Vegas Metro detective Michael Kitchen accused in robbery of prostitute appears in court

Former Las Vegas constable deputies sue county to get their jobs back

A dozen deputies and process servers who worked under ousted Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura have filed a federal lawsuit in a bid to get their jobs back.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, questions the legality of the process that Clark County officials usedwhen commissioners voted in March 2013 to abolish the constable’s office. That 2013 decision became effective Jan. 4, when Bonaventura’s four-year term ended.

Last year, county officials struck an agreement for the Metropolitan Police Department to take over the constable’s office, which has sworn law enforcement officers who perform evictions and serve court papers. As part of the agreement, which makes Sheriff Joe Lombardo the ex officio constable, Metro had the discretion to rehire any of the deputies who worked under Bonaventura. Most of the deputies didn’t get rehired, losing their jobs when their boss did.

The lawsuit accuses county and Metro officials of violating their due process rights by firing them without cause. It says the deputies and process servers are “victims of what can only be properly termed as a systematic ‘shakedown’ and conspiracy against the elected Constable.”

A Metro spokesman declined comment, as it’s pending litigation. A county spokesman also declined comment.

The county eliminated the constable’s office after a host of controversies under Bonaventura’s watch, whichincluded a reality television pilot with foul-mouthed deputies, profanity-filled recorded conversations, and financial conflicts with the county. Bonaventura is not a party on either side of the lawsuit.

Bonaventura has repeatedly tried to fight the county action in court both before and after the County Commission’s 2013 vote, but has been unsuccessful.

The lawsuit argues that the county never made a proper finding that the office is unnecessary, which is required by law.

Among its points, the lawsuit draws from a joint Metro-county press release issued on Jan. 2 about transition of the constable’s office to Metro.

That press release stated the “Constable’s Office will remain a separate entity,” which the lawsuit says contradicts the commission’s ordinance abolishing the office. That ordinance says that there is “an overlap of duties” between the constable’s office and the Sheriff Civil Process Section.

The lawsuit states that none of the plaintiffs were directly informed by written notice of any reason to not be employed at the office.

They’re also trying to get the county ordinance abolishing the office overturned. The lawsuit argues that the state law the ordinance is based upon “was not intended as an illicit tool to resolve personality conflicts.”

The plaintiffs are seeking damages of more than $75,000 to be determined at trial and attorney fees.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1

Under scrutiny after child’s death, Clark County targets news coverage

In a rare move, Clark County’s head spokesman is using the county’s website to complain about a recent Review-Journal article about Family Services and to accuse its author, reporter Yesenia Amaro, of working to “paint the department in an unfavorable light.”

On Thursday communications director Erik Pappa emailed Las Vegas media, saying “It’s been several years since we’ve used this ‘Setting the Record Straight’ Web page. You may be interested.” Pappa included a link to his critique, saying it will soon appear on the government website’s home page.

The county’s unusual public rebuke comes amid heightened public scrutiny of Family Services. A blue ribbon panel is now examining deficiencies in the county-run child welfare system.

The article published online on Jan. 10 and in print on Jan. 11, noted that Clark County commissioners in 2007 unanimously approved a resolution committing to goals for improving child welfare. Those reforms include placing no more than one unrelated child younger than 2 in a foster home at any time.

The article also noted that 16-month-old Michell Momox-Caselis and an unrelated 9-month-old child last year were placed in the same foster home, where on Oct. 12 Michell died from an antihistamine overdose. Foster father Joaquin Juarez-Paez, 37, is believed to be responsible for the overdose. He committed suicide that same day.

Pappa is most critical of the headlines that appeared on the print version of the article: “County policies ignored by DFS” and “Toddler who died should not have been in home.”

“These are goals, not policy,” Pappa wrote. Besides calling the headlines inaccurate, Pappa charged that “the content of the article is similarly slanted and apparently designed to create an impression that DFS staff intentionally ignored board-approved County policies.”

Review-Journal Editor Mike Hengel said Pappa’s complaints were reviewed and the newspaper stands by the article and by its author.

“The problem is not with the reporting,” Hengel said. “We’ve been fair and much more accurate in our reporting than Mr. Pappa has been.”

In an emailed response Monday to a complaint from Pappa, Hengel noted the article never called the resolution a policy, as Pappa asserts.

Amaro did not write the headline, he said, noting that it correctly follows the dictionary definition of “policy” as a “a high-level overall plan embracing the general goals and acceptable procedures especially of a governmental body.”

Hengel said the county never responded to an offer to consider publishing a county-written opinion piece airing its critique.

Only the first of the five pages of the 2007 resolution appears on the county’s website to support Pappa’s critique. Not making the cut was a page stating the commission’s call for a system to “be developed and implemented by Oct. 1, 2007, ensuring that all new policies developed pursuant” to an agreement made to head off a state lawsuit would be implemented. That pledge was quoted in the Jan. 10 article.

Pappa said only one page was posted because only one was needed to make his point. Asked if other pages, including one mentioning policies, were left out to mislead the public, Pappa said his statement speaks for itself, but then added: “I can easily add that in the morning.”

In criticizing the newspaper article, Pappa hammers home the resolution’s three references to the word goal, implying that the author ignored the wording. He didn’t acknowledge the article used “goals” or “goal” four times, but never refers to a policy. He declined to say if he took that into consideration.

Pappa also complained that the article noted that the population of Child Haven, the county’s emergency shelter for abused or neglected children, exceeded mandatory limits around Thanksgiving. He said Amaro failed to write that the number has since declined.

However, Pappa failed to disclose that in writing on Jan. 9 and in subsequent conversations Amaro asked him for statistics showing the number of children under age 2 at Child Haven. As of Thursday the county has provided only a total headcount, ignoring information relevant to the article.

Pappa wouldn’t say why he hasn’t provided the information or if he is deliberately withholding public records.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

 

Former lawyer Raymond James “Jim” Duensing shot by Las Vegas Metro officer gets probation

A former attorney who ran an unsuccessful bid for Clark County District Attorney was sentenced Thursday to five years probation on three felony charges stemming from a roadside confrontation with Las Vegas police.

Raymond James “Jim” Duensing, 38, was convicted in November on charges of resisting a police officer, carrying a concealed weapon, and unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with an Oct. 2009 traffic stop in the northwest valley. An officer shot Duensing three times when he tried to run.

The Pahrump attorney ran an unsuccessful bid on the Libertarian ticket this year to become Clark County’s top prosecutor and head the office that pursued the criminal case against him. He was the only opponent to incumbent Steve Wolfson, who was elected with 72 percent of the vote.

At the sentencing Thursday, Duensing called himself a “pillar of the community,” who has long been a civic activist. He was returning home to Las Vegas from a political rally in northern Nevada the afternoon he was stopped by Metro motorcycle officer David Gilbert on a traffic violation.

“I’ve maintained my innocence from day one,” Duensing said of the encounter, though he admitted to running from the officer after being hit with the Taser stun gun.

At the encounter along Cheyenne Avenue near Jones Boulevard five years ago, Gilbert asked Duensing at least three times to turn around before the officer grabbed his stun gun. Duensing had outstanding traffic warrants, and Gilbert wanted to arrest him.

“His conduct was entirely inappropriate, especially for someone who is a lawyer,” prosecutor Elizabeth Mercer told District Judge Michelle Leavitt. “He should have known that when he interacted with the officer it was not appropriate for him to draw a weapon in any way, shape or form.”

Mercer, who had asked the judge for a sentence of two to five years in prison, argued that Duensing lied on the witness stand about where he was hit with the Taser stun gun. Duensing said he still has the same scars, and pointed out that he was not prosecuted for perjury.

At trial, Duensing testified that the officer never told him why he was being arrested.

“I have not gone a single day since that afternoon without significant pain from those injuries,” Duensing told the judge. “I don’t expect those wounds will ever heal.”

Because of the conviction, Duensing also lost his license to practice law and a license to conduct firearms training.

Gilbert testified that he shot Duensing as he reached for a handgun. Defense lawyer Tom Pitaro argued that Gilbert could not have seen the gun because it was in the buttoned-up cargo pocket of Duensing’s pants. A knife in his right hip pocket was not found by police until after he was shot.

Along with probation, Leavitt also ordered Duensing to undergo a mental health evaluation, remain on house arrest, not consume drugs or alcohol and refrain from any contact with Gilbert.

Gilbert told the judge Duensing and his friends have threatened the officer since the shooting.

“For five years, myself, my wife, my family and my friends have had to endure the defendant’s delusional account of what transpired,” Gilbert said. “The defendant and his ilk are disturbing to me.”

Questioning Gilbert during the sentencing hearing, Pitaro said the officer targeted minorities and had shot an unarmed man before shooting Duensing.

In court documents, Pitaro wrote that when asked during the traffic stop, Duensing gave Gilbert his address in Spanish.

Pitaro also pointed to a forum post from someone who identified himself as David Gilbert, a 12-year Metro officer, on a blog called Veterans for Secure Borders. There is no time stamp on the post.

Prosecutors objected.

“You’re opinion is well known to me,” the judge told Pitaro.

“I want his opinion well known,” Pitaro said. “That his opinion is that he’s a racist.”

The author of the post states that 55 percent to 65 percent of the calls police receive involve illegal aliens. He writes that “the borders are there for a reason. To keep an eye on who is coming and going. To keep disease out.”

The post continues: “As a cop, I almost always get the standard reply to my request for ‘drivers license, registration and insurance please’ of any hispanic (sic) person… ‘Uh, me no speak english (sic), you get some one who does; I no talk to you till spanish (sic) here.’”

Gilbert refused to comment when asked, outside of court, about the blog post.

Harrah’s & Harvey’s Casino: Caesars bankruptcy won’t affect day-to-day operations at its 2 Lake Tahoe casinos

Harrahs and Harveys lake tahoe

Harrah’s & Harvey’s Casino: Caesars bankruptcy won’t affect day-to-day operations at its 2 Lake Tahoe casinos

By Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Caesars Entertainment Corp. placed its largest operating division into bankruptcy Thursday, taking the initial steps to eliminate almost $10 billion of debt and restructure the casino operator’s troubled balance sheet.

The pre-packaged filing covering Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., has been agreed upon by 80 percent of the company’s senior bondholders.It was filed in the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court in Chicago. The company hopes to emerge from bankruptcy later this year.

The Fall of the Roman Empire: The iconic 4,250-room Caesars Palace is the only Las Vegas property covered by the CEOC bankruptcy filing. 

caesars palace

The Fall of the Roman Empire: The iconic 4,250-room Caesars Palace is the only Las Vegas property covered by the CEOC bankruptcy filing.

Company officials have said the bankruptcy filing and financial restructuring will not impact day-to-day operations of its hotels and casinos, its interactive gaming operations or the company-owned World Series of Poker. The reorganization will not disrupt Caesars’ Total Rewards customer loyalty program, which has more than 45 million members.

The plan is to seek the court’s approval to convert CEOC into a publicly-traded real estate investment trust. CEOC is the largest of Caesars’ operating units and controls the flagship Caesars Palace, Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Reno and more than a dozen regional properties including Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Harveys in Stateline.

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Las Vegas ‘sociopath’ cop won’t be fired for online posts about ‘race war’ and shooting Obama – Maybe he should get a raise?

s-POLICE-BRUTALITY-largeA Las Vegas police detective will keep his job despite drawing criticism from colleagues and local activists for his online posts about a “race war” and anti-government rhetoric, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

Some of Detective Bobby Kinch’s co-workers reportedly brought the December 2013 Facebook posts to the attention of superiors. Kinch told the Sun that he was the victim of department politics. He was recently allowed to go back on duty following an extended suspension and internal investigation.

“Let’s just get this over!” Kinch wrote in one post. “Race war, Civil, Revolution? Bring it! I’m about as fed up as a man (American, Christian, White, Heterosexual) can get!”
At least one colleague later compared Kinch’s statements to the kind of posts made by Jerad and Amanda Miller before they shot and killed two LVPD officers in June 2014.

“It’s obviously coming to a boiling point! I say ‘F*CK IT’!” Kinch stated in another angry post. “I’m ready now! Sooner or later, I would say sooner than later! Thought I could make a difference, thought it would get better! See the morale fabric of this Country get so trampled I wanna call it! GAME ON! I think we need a cleansing! Just me? What say you?”

Several of Kinch’s fellow detectives expressed concern over the posts at the time, with one asking him not to share his views on “this stupid thing called Facebook.”

“You’ve lost your mind,” Detective Joe Giannone responded. “This may be the dumbest sh*t you’ve ever posted. That’s saying a lot.”

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‘Sea of Blue’ buoys Nevada law enforcement in a ‘Sea-of-troubled-waters’

Las Vegas supporters of law enforcement rallied Friday night to combat the tension that’s grown between U.S. police departments and their critics in the aftermath of controversial shootings involving officers and civilians.

The “Sea of Blue” rally in the northwest valley drew hundreds of people who listened to about two hours of speeches from police and Southern Nevada officials at Police Memorial Park, 3250 Metro Academy Way, near Cheyenne Avenue and Grand Canyon Drive. Similar rallies have been held across the nation in recent weeks to counter anti-police sentiment sparked by the deaths of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in New York, and Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer.

Las Vegas rally speakers included Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, new Metro Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Randy Sutton, a retired Metro lieutenant and national spokesman for the American Council of Public Safety.

Lombardo addressed the tension between protesters and police around the country and called it “deplorable.”

“How many out there think that the officer who was involved in the shooting of the juvenile put on his uniform expecting to do the right thing that day?” asked Lombardo, who was cheered by the crowd.

He asked the same about the Ferguson, Mo. officer who shot and killed the unarmed 18-year-old Brown.

“I guarantee you neither one of those officers put on their uniform and said, ‘I’m gonna go shoot somebody so I can ruin my life,’ ” Lombardo said. “They didn’t think that way, nor should society.”

Anti-police sentiment and protests against departments have been detrimental, creating “a war on cops,” according to Sutton.

“Last year has been a very difficult one for police in our nation and in our community,” Sutton said. He spoke about the shooting deaths of New York City police officers killed in December and Metro officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck, who were slain in 2014 in an east valley pizza parlor.

“They’ve shaken the people who serve and our country’s communities,” Sutton said about police killers and violent protesters.

“But unlike those anti-police demonstrations — where screaming, angry mobs spew their venomous poison — we’re different,” Sutton said of police supporters. “… Tonight, it’s our voices that will be heard.”

Metro Lt. Sasha Larkin, who is part of the mentoring group Women of Metro, assists different charities in the valley and emphasized that the community needs to come together.

“The truth is, we come out here and we’re united,” Larkin said. ” It’s not us and them, it’s not us and you, we are part of the community and you are our community and we want to be one with you, we don’t want to stand separate.”

Some attendees were police officers and their families. Others were valley residents who came to champion police.

Tysen Booth, 57, of Las Vegas, said he admires the work done by police. “(I’m) just honoring the guys who do this every day.”

Booth, who wore a blue shirt in honor of fallen officers, said he can’t imagine a world without police doing the work they do. “I could sleep well at night because of it.”

Patrick Denny, 42, has friends who are officers.

“I think the majority of the community does support the police department,” Denny said. “You’re going to have the small percentage that don’t,” people who may have had bad experiences with officers.

“They’re not robots, they’re normal people, they have families,” Denny said of patrol officers.

Mayor Goodman stressed her support for first responders, saying: “We absolutely appreciate every day that when you get up in the morning, you don’t know what your day is gonna hold for you, but you’re ready to be there for all of us.”

Contact Ricardo Torres at rtorres@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Find him on Twitter: @rickytwrites.

North Las Vegas OKs bailiff program, cost savings unclear

Cash-strapped North Las Vegas has been touting a $1.6 million savings by hiring bailiffs to secure the city’s municipal courts. The bailiffs, who will replace the marshals who currently handle court security, will cost the city $500,000.

But the marshals won’t be going anywhere.The idea behind the program is that the marshals will move out of the courtroom to pursue a backlog of roughly 33,000 warrants.

So where did the cost savings estimate come from?

City Manager Qiong Liu said the city looked at how they were changing from a court security program that cost about $2.1 million to one that cost $500,000. That doesn’t factor in that the city will still be paying for the marshals, who will just be devoting their attention elsewhere. Liu said she didn’t want the focus to be on savings and that the city doesn’t anticipate the move as being a revenue generator. She also said hiring the bailiffs for $500,000 won’t ultimately result in extra costs for the city because the $2.1 million it costs to staff the marshals — and more — will be made up by money gathered from warrants.

So what is the city actually saving?

North Las Vegas doesn’t know.

“A year from now we can give you the facts; we can tell you how much.” Liu said, noting that the city plans to do a financial assessment then.

The news release North Las Vegas sent out on Tuesday was titled: “Innovative Marshal Program Proposed for North Las Vegas, City to Save $1.6 Million Annually.” The announcement comes at a time when the city is trying to build a positive image inside and outside city hall. The city met Monday to go over a wide range of improvements, which included several initiatives under the banner of “culture change,” with one of the goals being to “promote (a) positive outlook.”

Liu was adamant that the intention isn’t for cost savings, but to have an important city function work better and cost savings shouldn’t be the focus.

In the press release though, savings were the focus, with Liu and Mayor John Lee giving quotes.

“This proposal not only saves the City of North Las Vegas more than $1.6 million annually, it drastically improves operational efficiency and increases public safety for our residents,” said Liu.

The mayor in the release heralded the $1.6 million savings as answering his call to tackle the city’s financial crisis.

“I am very excited about this proposal and thankful for staff’s efforts to answer my challenge for city hall to be better stewards of the public’s monies,” said Mayor John Lee. “It is great to see positive results from our efforts to become a more creative government engaged in pragmatic solutions.”

North Las Vegas police Sgt. Chrissie Coon said the police department is planning to absorb the financial costs of the marshals into its existing budget and the public will be saving on efficiency.

Marshals’ time is limited now by acting as court security. When a warrant needs to be handled, a patrol officer often must be called to fill in and sometimes they aren’t available, North Las Vegas Police Chief Joseph Chronister told the City Council on Wednesday night, where the bailiff program was unanimously approved. It’s a change that means the marshals will be working in the community six days a week for 19 hours a day versus four days a week for 10 hours.

Some council members expressed concerns that the move would result in jail crowding.

If someone can’t pay a fine associated with a warrant, they can be jailed, which costs the city money.

Chronister told the council his department is cognizant of crowding. Checking on a warrant won’t mean automatic jail time as that just isn’t the most efficient way to administer justice.

Coon said there are many reasons someone might be the subject of a warrant and the police department’s goal is accountability.

The best thing for the community could be having a marshal check in and give those named in warrants a new court date, not putting them in jail when they can’t pay up, Coon said.

Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes.

SOURCE: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/north-las-vegas-oks-bailiff-program-cost-savings-unclear

Federal judge refuses to dismiss Las Vegas HOA case

A federal judge Thursday recommended denying a defense motion to dismiss charges against key defendants in the homeowners association fraud case because of government misconduct.

The eight-page decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. paves the way for former construction company boss Leon Benzer, attorney Keith Gregory and four other defendants to stand trial on fraud and conspiracy charges Feb. 23 in the scheme to unlawfully take over 11 HOAs around the valley.

Defense lawyers for Benzer and Gregory can ask U.S. District Judge James Mahan, who will preside over the expected two-month trial, to reject Foley’s recommendation.

The lawyers contended prosecutors committed misconduct that allowed the Las Vegas Review-Journal to publish an Oct. 30 article revealing details of failed plea negotiations between prosecutors and Benzer.

The article, which contained information Benzer provided investigators during secret talks in 2011, was based on government reports the newspaper obtained from the electronic court docket while they were public for two days in September.

The investigative reports have since been sealed and stricken from the court record. The reports describe how Benzer corrupted HOA boards through bribery and election rigging to obtain millions of dollars in construction defect contracts.

In his decision Thursday, Foley said he found no government misconduct that rose to the level of dismissing the case.

He also went to the unusual step of taking part of the blame for how Benzer’s secret deal became public.

Foley said he should not have unsealed the reports without allowing Benzer’s lead lawyer, Daniel Albregts, a chance to address the issue. He said he also should have given Gregory’s attorneys, who filed the reports under seal, a chance to withdraw them.

Prosecutors had opposed the effort by Gregory’s lawyers to file the FBI and police reports under seal.

Defense lawyers suggested in court papers that the Review-Journal got the reports from prosecutors, an allegation denied by both the prosecutors and Review-Journal.

Albregts filed a motion under seal seeking a subpoena for the Review-Journal’s court billing records in an effort to support the unsubstantiated defense claim.

But Review-Journal lawyer Maggie McLetchie responded with a court filing putting Albregts on notice the newspaper would move to quash a subpoena for records. Foley then denied Albregts’ secret request.

Last month, Foley denied a defense request to move the trial out of Las Vegas because of what the lawyers said was prejudicial news coverage by the Review-Journal that made it impossible for Benzer and Gregory to get a fair trial.

Foley ruled the newspaper’s stories were “factual in nature” and not inflammatory, as the defense argued. Any potential jurors influenced by the news coverage could be weeded out during the selection process at trial, Foley said.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter

SOURCE: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/federal-judge-refuses-dismiss-hoa-case

Complaints against judges across the state are rising, but the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline is having a tough time keeping up.

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Paul Deyhle

Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline Executive Director Paul Deyhle.

By JEFF GERMAN

Complaints against judges across the state are rising, but the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline is having a tough time keeping up.

Executive Director Paul Deyhle said the commission lacks modern-day resources, manpower and in some instances authority to handle the growing caseload.

The backlog is the result of years of being underfunded and ignored within state government, he said.

This past year, the seven-member commission spent $183,300 — more than three-quarters of its budget — pursuing a single disciplinary action against former Family Court Judge Steven Jones, who fought the panel every step of the way.

For its efforts, the commission ended up giving Jones a three-month suspension without pay over his mishandling of a romantic relationship with a prosecutor who appeared before him.bad judge

It took the federal government to get Jones off the bench. He resigned in September as part of a deal with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to a felony in a decade-long $2.6 million investment scheme.

Deyhle has big plans to get the struggling commission what it needs to go after errant judges like Jones in the future.

Judge James E. Wilson Jr. Carson City corruption

Judge James E. Wilson Jr. Carson City corruption

“We’re trying to bring the office back into the 21st century,” said Deyhle, who has been at its helm since November 2013. “Not much has been done for the commission in many, many years. It’s time.”

During a time of fiscal restraint, Deyhle has requested a 40-percent increase in his new two-year budget, bringing it up to $902,971. He wants to add an associate general counsel and a management analyst and take other long-overdue measures to improve the commission’s daily operations.

The commission, which received roughly 225 complaints against judges this year, has had only three full-time staffers, including Deyhle, to process those cases. Deyhle has doubled as general counsel.

KRNV investigates Nevada Attorney General & Carson City District Court BACKDATING SCANDAL

The new hires would eliminate the frequent need to pay expensive private lawyers to handle disciplinary cases and move the cases along quicker, Deyhle said.

His budget request also includes money to replace outdated computers and software and a telephone system installed in 1987 that can’t be updated.judge tatro scandals

It allows for the purchase of a new Internet server to store and protect commission documents, along with a new electronic case management system that should have been installed years ago. The current system isn’t supported by the manufacturer, which is no longer in business.

Deyhle said he also hopes to use the additional funds to provide more ethics training to judges around the state.

One of his bigger priorities is finding a new and larger office in Carson City. The current office is in a building with no other state agencies and sits next to a fitness center. At times during the day, the walls shake from the impact of the fitness classes and their blaring music, Deyhle said.tatro corrupt

The office is so cramped that case files have to be stacked in boxes along the walls in public view. Supplies are stored in the bathroom, and there is no conference room or place for visitors to sit, he said.

Commissioners also are forced to conduct confidential conference calls from a common office area at a staffer’s desk with the help of a plastic folding table, he added.

Deyhle’s push to beef up the office also includes seeking financial help from the Nevada Legislature in the case of an emergency.

JUDGE TATROHe has submitted a bill draft that would give the judicial commission an opportunity to draw money from a state contingency fund if it finds itself short of operating cash because of another high-profile case like the one involving Jones.

Another bill draft would more clearly define the commission’s ability to take certain action against judges and expand its authority to remove a judge without pay.

Over the past several months, Deyhle has been working hard behind the scenes lobbying for the changes.

“We’re trying to improve the operational efficiency of the office,” he said. “We’re trying to effect a positive change, so the commission can better carry out its constitutional and statutory mandates. It’s not unreasonable.”

SOURCE: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/judicial-discipline-commission-hopes-add-staff-caseload-grows

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

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COPS TV Show, Toughest Takedowns, North Las Vegas Police Department

Officer Matt Fey of the North Las Vegas Police Department conducts a routine traffic stop on a vehicle that ran a stop sign. Officer Fey becomes suspicious of the occupants due to their nervous behavior during questioning. When the defiant driver repeatedly ignores an order to keep his hands on the steering wheel, Officer Fey is forced to spray him with mace. Surprisingly, the desperate driver escapes the officer’s grasp and takes off in the vehicle. The suspects lead several units into a desert area where the driver bails out of the vehicle. He’s eventually captured in some nearby brush by a swarm of officers. When asked why he ran, the driver says that he was recently released from prison and did not have a license. He’s charged with felony evading, resisting arrest and possible drug possession. The passenger admits to steering the vehicle for the blind driver for fear of his life. He’s charged with obstructing and evading.

LVMPD attack protesters, choke, slam their heads into the ground, repeatedly punch and arrest peaceful protesters on Fremont St while “America the Beautiful” and Kennedys famous line “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”

America the Beautiful, or is it America the Brutal?
LVMPD attack protesters, choke, slam their heads into the ground, repeatedly punch and arrest peaceful protesters on Fremont St while “America the Beautiful” and Kennedys famous line “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” playing in the background. Almost perfect question to ask before seeing exactly what your country has in store for those who assert their rights, jail and excessive force brought on by the citys strong arm elite.As the video wines down, one of the kidnapped and beaten, Colin Graybeal, screams out for “Help” before his beatings continue in the doorway of the casino.

Former Las Vegas Metro cop James Henry pleads guilty in child porn case

After striking a deal with prosecutors, a former Metro police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to possession of child pornography.

Prosecutors originally charged James Henry, 37, with 10 counts child pornography possession, saying several images were found on an online storage account that belonged to him.

Henry agreed to plead to only one count of possessing a visual presentation depicting sexual conduct of a child.

Prosecutors said the images appeared to have been uploaded by Henry through his home Internet Protocol address or his cell phone.

“After consideration of the evidence we had, the amount of child pornography we discovered, we thought this was a fair negotiation,” prosecutor Jim Sweetin said.

The 12-year department veteran was arrested in October after an investigation into child pornography on his Google cloud account. Henry worked as a patrol officer in Metro’s Convention Center Area Command, which includes the Strip.

Google had notified authorities that someone had uploaded an image of child pornography in June, according to Henry’s arrest report. His account was closed, and the tip was forwarded to Metro in July.

Henry’s lawyers have said the images were never in his possession and that someone could have hacked into his account. They had also argued that there was no evidence Henry prepared, advertised or distributed images.

Henry did not know why Google closed his account, his lawyers have said. Henry learned of the investigation when he was placed on paid administrative leave from Metro.

During an interview with detectives, Henry admitted to uploading the images of boys and girls and called them “captivating and titillating,” a police report said.

Sweetin called those comments “very concerning.”

His lawyers said that those comments were taken out of context and that he had been referring to pornography in general.

In exchange for the plea, the Clark County district attorney’s office agreed not to refer the case to the federal government for prosecution.

Sweetin also said that prosecutors would not pursue further charges “resulting from the evidence currently in the state’s possession.”

Henry, who resigned from the department last month, must surrender all of his computers, electronic devices and cell phones.

Defense lawyer Louis Schneider declined to comment after the plea hearing Wednesday.

Henry, who must register as a sex offender, faces up to 6 years in prison, but he could also be given probation at his sentencing in April. He remains free on $100,000 bail.

Contact reporter David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker

HOA defense lawyer probing how Review-Journal got now-secret documents

In a move criticized by former federal prosecutors, defense lawyers in the homeowners association fraud case are looking into whether the Las Vegas Review-Journal improperly obtained now-secret government reports on failed plea negotiations with the lead defendant.

The Review-Journal obtained the reports — which detail the alleged role of former construction company boss Leon Benzer in a massive HOA takeover scheme — from the electronic federal court docket while the reports were public for two days in September.

But Daniel Albregts, the court-appointed lead lawyer for Benzer, indicated in court papers last week that he was trying to confirm that through billing records. He previously argued in court papers that federal prosecutors improperly opened the door for the newspaper to obtain the documents.

“Undersigned counsel is attempting to determine from the (court) billing system whether the Review-Journal actually did obtain the documents —later stricken and sealed — during the two-day window in which they were available on the public docket or whether the documents were provided to them by some other source,” Albregts wrote in his latest papers.

Albregts did not explain how he planned to obtain the Review-Journal’s billing records, and he did not return a phone call for comment.

Federal Court Clerk Lance Wilson said the federal courts’ administrative office has denied requests for billing records without a court order because they consider them private records.

In his court papers, Albregts said he wants the long-running criminal case against his client dismissed because of misconduct committed by Justice Department lawyers that allowed the Review-Journal to obtain four FBI and Las Vegas police reports of interviews with Benzer in 2011.

The Washington-based prosecutors have denied involvement with the release of the reports, which became public because of filing errors by lawyers for one of Benzer’s co-defendants, attorney Keith Gregory.

Former federal prosecutors this week questioned the 11th-hour defense strategy to tie the Review-Journal to alleged government misconduct. The high-profile case heads to trial Feb. 23.

“The defense has a very high burden to show prosecutorial misconduct,” said Paul Padda, who worked on the HOA investigation when it was handled by the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office. “To allege a conspiracy between the government and the media in this case seems extreme and an attempt to divert attention away from errors that may have been committed by others.”

Longtime Washington lawyer Douglas McNabb agreed.

“They’re trying to muck up the case as much as possible to cloud the clarity of the facts,” McNabb said. “They’re trying to make something of it other than what it is. All you did was get access to publicly available documents.”

On Monday, the lawyers again publicly filed the Benzer reports by mistake in a court filing and once more sought to withdraw them from the court record. The reports were public for the second time until Tuesday morning, when Foley ordered them stricken from the record, again.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

Judicial candidate Joseph Scalia reprimanded by Nevada Bar

A candidate for the bench in Clark County Family Court Department B has been publicly reprimanded by the State Bar of Nevada for problems with his client trust account.

The reprimand was filed July 11 against attorney Joseph A. Scalia II, about a month after the primary elections, for 12 violations of professional conduct rules in two separate cases. It wasn’t the first time Scalia has faced disciplinary action from the bar. He also received a letter of reprimand in February and another one in June 2012 in different cases.

Both letters of reprimand were for violations of rules of professional conduct in connection with grievances filed against Scalia by former clients.

“I made a mistake, I owned up to it. and I fixed it,” Scalia said last week of the July reprimand. “I got my accountant to resolve all of these things. It was an accounting problem, not a legal problem.”

Scalia, 50, is running for the open nonpartisan Family Court seat against attorney Linda Marquis.

On or about Nov. 28, 2011, Bank of Nevada notified the State Bar that Scalia’s trust account had become overdrawn by $1,529 when a check for $2,601 was presented for payment, the public reprimand said. The State Bar investigated.

“The investigation revealed that, from approximately November 2011 through August 2012, you failed to properly maintain funds in your client trust account,” the reprimand reads. “Your initial response to the State Bar’s letter of investigation did not explain the issues for the overdraft and, further, the trust account issues were not resolved until well after the State Bar began its investigation.”

Scalia later told the State Bar that he was dealing with family issues and acknowledged that he had not properly supervised the management of his trust account, according to the reprimand. During the time period at issue, he said he had reduced the number of hours of his accounting staff from 30 hours per week to 12 hours per week, and because the settlement funds from his personal injury cases amounted to less than 5 percent of his business, his trust account did not receive the attention it deserved.

For that, Scalia violated rules of competence, safekeeping property, supervision, and bar admissions and disciplinary matters and misconduct, the reprimand said.

Scalia said that is when the economy was slow and he had to lay off staff.

But he added: “We really never did a lot of personal injury work to begin with.”

The reprimand also said that attorneys and staff assigned to a client repeatedly failed to communicate with the client and repeatedly asked the client to resubmit documents the client had previously provided Scalia’s office. Scalia’s office also failed to timely handle the out-of-state divorce decree in this client’s matter with the Eight Judicial District Court. The application was rejected twice as Scalia’s office failed to follow the appropriate filing procedures.

On May 7, 2012, the client asked for a refund, but it wasn’t until after the State Bar performed a status check in February 2013 that the client received a refund. In this case, Scalia violated rules of competence, diligence, and communication, among others.

The February letter of reprimand said that Scalia violated three rules of conduct after taking eight months to provide a client with a copy of his file.

The June 2012 letter of reprimand was about a grievance for an opposition to a motion that wasn’t filed until a day before the hearing on the motion. An attorney working for Scalia’s firm admitted that he failed to file the opposition to the motion, according to the letter.

In this case, Scalia violated rules of diligence, communication and supervision, among others.

Scalia on Tuesday said the issues in the two letters of reprimands were because of “mistakes of inexperienced attorneys.”

At the time, he said he was helping an attorney get his business back on track. He also was helping an attorney who had been disbarred, and he had hired an attorney who claimed he was experienced, but wasn’t. That resulted in things getting off track.

Scalia said he has since made changes and instituted more oversight.

Contact Yesenia Amaro at yamaro@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440. Find her on Twitter: @YeseniaAmaro.

Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta has called for a blue ribbon committee to examine shortcomings in the Clark County child welfare system and courts.

Inquiry launched into Clark County child welfare problems

Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta has called for a blue ribbon committee to examine shortcomings in the Clark County child welfare system and courts.problems

The committee will examine problems that include crowding at Child Haven, the county’s emergency shelter for abused or neglected children, the shortage of foster homes, and long court calenders for child welfare cases.

The group will also examine why children are not being released to relatives.

“Action needs to be taken immediately to address these shortcomings that are jeopardizing the well-being of children in Clark County,” Saitta said in a statement Monday. “These children deserve better, and I get no sense of urgency on the part of the system. This committee will identify the most serious issues in the child welfare system and work with County officials to make sure they are corrected quickly.”

Saitta appointed the group as part of the Court Improvement Program for the Protection and Permanency of Dependent Children, which she leads.

problems 2The plan is for the blue ribbon committee to meet during the next four months and come up with recommendations for county action, possible legislative bills for the 2015 session or a combination of both.

In addition to Saitta, the committee will include Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman; County Commissioner Susan Brager; former assembly speaker and Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada Executive Director Barbara Buckley; Nevada Human Health and Services Director Amber Howell; District Judge Deborah Schumacher, Second Judicial District Court; and Thom Reilly, a former Clark County manager and managing principal and founder of The Reilly Group.

“Children are being separated from their siblings and the wishes of relatives are being totally ignored as decisions about the children are being made,” Buckley said in a statement. “There seems to be a real inconsistency in the way children in different parts of town are treated. These are problems that need to be fixed now; they are having a devastating impact on our children.”

Brager said Monday that the panel has an important task ahead — looking at the system globally and all the interconnecting parts of the child welfare system.

“They’re all interlinked,” Brager said. “The focus on the child and being able to do what is right for the child will make it worthwhile. … I’m very excited that we’re looking at the big picture.”

Lisa Ruiz-Lee, director of Clark County Department of Family Services, and Assistant Clark County Manager Jeff Wells are “anxious to be part of the solution,” the state supreme court’s release said.

“I have worked with Justice Saitta on a number of committees and I know her deep commitment to the children and families of our community and I look forward to working with her and the other committee members to address the concerns of the child welfare system,” Wells said in a prepared statement.

Wells and Family Services officials were unavailable for interviews Monday afternoon.

Donna Coleman, a longtime child advocate in Clark County, said that for a blue ribbon panel to have value, it will need to make major, positive changes in a timely fashion with the information it gathers.

“I’ve seen so many panels in my 20-plus years of advocating that have accomplished zero,” Coleman said.

The committee is on a tight schedule. The group is expected to meet three times, with the first meeting set for Oct. 7. The committee’s goal is to finish its work by Jan. 30, 2015. That deadline allows time for any bill proposals to go to Legislature when lawmakers meet in February.

The state convened a blue ribbon panel in 2006 to review child fatalities in Nevada. That panel resulted in steps to improve the tracking and accuracy of information about fatalities, and report death notifications to the state’s Division of Child and Family Services.

Ed Cotton, a consultant who worked with that group, said it will be important for the new committee to have a strategic plan to guide its work. He said it will be important to get input from caseworkers and foster parents.

“I think it’s really important they don’t just review files or talk to managers,” Cotton said.

Flexibility and openness to hearing varied public input can play a key role too for the panel, he said.

One of the things that came out of the last panel’s input was that they couldn’t get through when calling the county’s child abuse hotline. In the public meeting, the panel — after hearing a rosy statement that calls to the hotline get through within three minutes — placed a call to the hotline. They waited 26 minutes before someone on the hotline answered the call, Cotton said.

“You can’t ignore those things when they come up,” he said.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

source: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/inquiry-launched-clark-county-child-welfare-problems

Killer Police Officer Yant promoted to shooting counselor of the Police Union

Yant with gun 300x236 Killer Police Officer Yant promoted to shooting counselor of the Police Unionby Alexandra Cohen September 25, 2014

Two members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department were involved in two different high profile shootings; one was fired and the other one was presumably punished by being put behind a desk to calm the so-called outrage of the community before he was promoted for his “mishap” by being named director of a department of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, the police union that represents the rank and fileof the police department.
Officer Jesus Arevalo shot a disabled Gulf War veteran, Stanley Gibson, whose car was sandwiched in between two patrol cars, while he was waiting for orders.
A lieutenant, a sergeant, and two additional police officers — all monitored by someone located a distance away from the place of action — were all witnesses to Officer Arevalo’s actions.
“Although there were multiple issues cited by the board regarding tactics and decision-making, ultimately Officer Jesus Arevalo was the only officer who used deadly force,” Sheriff Doug Gillespie said during a press conference that, as always, excluded the Las Vegas Tribune.
Officer Jesus Arevalo, as with the family-owned Las Vegas Tribune, is a Latino that became the scapegoat for the police department’s display of discrimination. The Las Vegas Tribune has been discriminated against by Gillespie and his administration ever since the newspaper refused to endorse him in his two runs for the office that he now occupies.
Bryan Yant, a detective with the Las Vegas Police Department, is the other officer involved in a different high profile officer involved shooting; there are several differences between how his situation was handled compared to that of Arevalo, who lost his job.
Yant, in his first ten years as a police officer, has been involved in three police shootings, killing two suspects and wounding the third; he lied to a judge to obtain a false searchwarrant to enter the home of Trevon Cole, an alleged small marijuana dealer who was naked in his bathroom when the detective forced his way into the apartment Cole shared with his pregnant girlfriend.
Yant’s explanation of the shooting given during a coroner’s inquest presented discrepancies from the coroner’s explanation for the shooting. The Clark County prosecutor, who normally sides with the police, asked Yant how he could explain the two different versions of the shooting (one being Yant’s version) to which he cynically responded, “I am not a forensic scientist; that is what I saw.”
As a surprise to many people, the Police Union has named Yant to a position in which he can counsel police officers who are involved in shootings — perhaps even telling them how to lie to a judge and how to get away with murder — and even police officers, active police officers within Metro, have expressed their disappointment with Yant’s recent promotion by their union.
Yant’s salary will likely jump — like any other union official — up to perhaps $200,000 a year, and his workload will be reduced to a couple of hours a day, if that, as he stays home waiting for a shooting to happen so he can then advise and council the officer involved in the shooting.
A few police officers have commented that the union administration took Yant to upset the current Metro administration and Sheriff Douglas Gillespie, who vowed to keep Yant on a desk assignment for the rest of his career instead of firing and prosecuting the detective.

Former Clark County Prosecutor Dave Roger — who resigned one year after being re-elected to “spend more time” with his family, now has two jobs and his wife is a judge inMunicipal Court — told the media during the coroner’s inquest that he thought Yant was lying on the stand; but now that he is one of the lawyers for the police union under the director Chris Collin’s wife, he seems to have become mute and has not made any comments to the media.

source: http://lasvegastribune.net/killer-police-officer-yant-promoted-shooting-counselor-police-union/

Mother protests with hunger strike in front of the R. J. C. against Judge Douglas Smith

Blanca Diaz 225x300 Mother protests with hunger strike in front of the R. J. C. against Judge Douglas Smithby Rolando Larraz September 25, 2014

Judge Douglas Smith

The mother of a young man with several mental illnesses spent all last week in front of the Regional Justice Center on a hunger strike protesting against a court decision by Judge Douglas Smith after her son finalized a plea deal where he would plead guilty to lesser charges in return for a much lower sentence.
Dagmar Diaz was arrested and charged with kidnapping and intent of sexual assault; his public defender attorney negotiated a lower sentence if he admits guilt to a lesser charge.
Up to now, everything seemed routine and business as usual with the prosecutors and defense attorneys playing at law with the lives of the defendants.
However, everyone agreed to the plea bargain deal and they were ready to be in Department 8 in front of Judge Douglas Smith to seal the negotiations, but no one counted on the judge’s racial antagonism against Latino defendants; he did not approve the deal.
The Public Defender appointed to the case tried to explain to the judge that the young man had several head injuries and illnesses due to being run down under a car in front of his school, but Judge Smith did not allow her to finish the explanation and shut her down.
The Deputy District Attorney, who always hides under the name of the elected District Attorney, was shocked with the judge’s decision and tried to explain to the judge the plea agreement, but the judge told both attorneys that he didn’t care and the ultimate decision was up to him and… NEXT CASE.
Judge Smith is known for being rude and arrogant on the bench and has the tendency to be extremely rude to people who speak with an accent.
Judge Smith most recently was in the spotlight when he locked up a Hispanic man because he thought the defendant displayed an attitude while in court, and then raised the man’s bail from $3,000 to $1 million. Later the Nevada Supreme Court disagreed with Smith’s order and ordered the defendant’s bail back down to the original $3,000 and the case transferred to another courtroom.
The issue with that Hispanic defendant is not the only case on which the Supreme Court had disagreed with the decision of Judge Smith; Las Vegas Tribune found more than thirty cases in which the Nevada Supreme Court had not been in agreement with Judge Smith, reversing the rulings.
Dagmar Diaz and his mother Blanca have been in the country little more than a decade from Cuba; just a few months after Dagmar was enrolled in his school, he was run over by a car in front of that school on Twain and Spencer.
Dagmar was in a coma for fourteen days and his mother had to quit working to care for him; he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, post traumatic brain damage and attention deficitdisorder (ADD) and needed continual medical attention.
“My son broke the law and has to pay for his error — which is how I raised him, to take responsibility for his actions, when the woman who stabbed him in the hand came to me and told me about the incident,” said Blanca Diaz during an interview at the Las Vegas Tribune office last Monday.
“Kidnapped and she was able to walk to me and tell me what she says happened? I do not see the kidnap anywhere, but…” said the elder Diaz.
Blanca Diaz told the Las Vegas Tribune that she is not complaining because her son was arrested, but she is disappointed that the judge did not follow the prosecutor’s recommendation and accept the plea agreement.
“My son needs continual medical attention; the judge could have sent him to a medical facility instead of a regular prison where he is running the risk of getting killed by either another inmate or by a prison guard if he gets off track, [off] the medicine, and goes on an attack,” Ms. Diaz explained.
On Monday, Diaz was supposed to be in court but it was postponed until today, Wednesday, September 24, and his future is unpredictable; but Blanca Diaz will be on Face The Tribune radio show on Friday, September 26 at noon talking about her son’s case.
Blanca Diaz’s hunger strike is the first hunger strike in Clark County and she did not say if she will continue the strike after her son’s Wednesday court appearance.

source: http://lasvegastribune.net/mother-protests-hunger-strike-front-regional-justice-center/

Steven Jones the Crooked Federal “judge” from Nevada heads straight to public retirement pension

When Steven Jones is sitting in prison (and I’m pretty sure the despicable abuse of his judicial powers will persuade a federal judge he’s unworthy of probation), don’t feel too sorry for him.

He probably won’t have money woes when he gets out. While he’s pumping iron behind bars, he can rest assured he might be able to get up to 75 percent of his $200,000 a year salary as a judicial pension, at least at some point.

That’s the way the system works. A pension is an earned benefit, so you can be a teacher convicted of molesting children or a police officer convicted of drug charges or a corrupt judge exploiting people, but you still get your pension.

They can’t take that away from you. Nevada Corruption

“We don’t have a provision in the law allowing forfeiture,” said Tina Leiss, executive officer of Nevada’s Public Employees Retirement System. In the 12 years she has been with the system, no Nevada lawmaker has tried to change that, but she said one reason is that there are issues with the InternalRevenue Service that would complicate taking away a pension someone earned during their working days.

The PERS system is so complex that estimating how much Jones will get is nothing more than guesswork, and Leiss is not allowed to tell. There are many variables. He could be in PERS, or he could have gone with the Judicial Retirement System. He could pay a penalty of about 4 percent a year and take it early because he’s 56. But then once he takes his pension, he’s guaranteed a boost of more than 4 percent each year.

Nevada corruption

Nevada corruption

But it’s possible he could get up to $150,000 a year to live on, plus those annual increases, so he won’t be living in poverty when he get out.

For years, angry callers asked me whether public employees continue to receive their salaries when they are charged with felonies and not working. Payment for no work doesn’t sit well with taxpayers. But they get even angrier when they learn that convicted criminals who are public employees retain their lifetime pensions despite their convictions.

Pay attention to these numbers: Jones publicly admitted last week he participated in a scheme that defrauded 22 people out of $1.2 million over a 10-year period.

Jones used his charms to provide credibility to his ex-brother-in-law Thomas Cecrle, the brains of the Big Con. As the plea bargain he signed said, Jones’ role was to use his position as judge to meet with at least one victim both in his chambers and in the parking lot of the courthouse.

Jones vouched for that Cecrle needed a short-term loan to buy water rights worth hundreds of millions. And the lucky victims, er, investors, would make loads of money if they would only help Cecrle.

When Cecrle wrote bad checks to repay one victim, the judge used his powers to have Cecrle released on his own recognizance in March 2006. He told at least one victim that Cecrle’s project was lucrative and he would help him complete the project in any way he could.

In 2007, Jones accepted cash from a victim in the Family Court parking lot wearing his robes. Cecrle couldn’t do it because he was in custody. Jones said he was traveling. Not so.

Change of plea hearings lack the drama of sentencing. Jones gave short answers of “Yes” and “I do” as he waived his rights to a trial. There were a handful of supporters present in the courtroom. His former girlfriend Lisa Willardson might have been there if she hadn’t died of a prescription drug overdose Dec. 26. She always said Jones was a fine man, who took care of his ailing mother, who was innocent of wrongdoing. Willardson’s death occurred after the Nevada Judicial Commission found he violated the code of ethics by allowing her to appear before him when they were dating.

U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey abandoned the courtesy of calling him “Judge Jones.” Even though he hadn’t formally resigned the job he had held since his election in 1992, she addressed him as “Mister Jones.” He resigned his position later than day. He had been on leave with pay since he was indicted in November 2012, except for three months, a paltry penalty ordered by the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission for unethical behavior regarding Willardson.

Based on his betrayal of his judicial oaths, Jones didn’t deserve any courtesy title. When Dorsey sentences him Jan. 26, Dorsey will show how seriously she views the ex-Family Court judge’s actions.

Prosecutors agreed not to argue for more than 27 months in prison, the low end of sentencing guidelines, one of the incentives to get him to plead and avoid the cost of a trial. Otherwise, he faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted by a jury. The judge will decide the amount of restitution he must pay victims.

When Dorsey sentences Jones on one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, she won’t be able to take into account past allegations that Jones, a large man, abused a girlfriend. Those charges were dismissed in 2006 when the girlfriend recanted, saying she should be blamed for her injuries because she was an alcoholic.

Reading the admissions in Jones’ plea bargain should be enough to revolt Dorsey. They certainly revolted me.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Thursday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com

source: http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/jane-ann-morrison/crooked-judge-heads-straight-public-retirement-pension

Fred Horvath, assistant city manager of Henderson, has been placed on administrative leave pending the result of a police investigation into his arrest Friday afternoon on suspicion of driving under the influence

Henderson official arrested on DUI charges

Fred Horvath, assistant city manager of Henderson, has been placed on administrative leave pending the result of a police investigation into his arrest Friday afternoon on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The 58-year-old Horvath was arrested and booked into the Henderson Detention Center following his arrest, city spokesman Bud Cranor confirmed.

“We confirm that Fred was arrested on suspicion of DUI and the city manager is placing him on leave pending the results of that investigation,” Cranor said.

Official charges are pending the results of a blood test. Horvath was arrested about 2 p.m. near the corner of Green Valley and Wigwam parkways, and was released on his own recognizance within a couple hours of his arrest.

While details surrounding his arrest have not been released, numerous sources said Horvath had been playing golf earlier in the day before being pulled over by Henderson police for crossing over the lane divider.

City offices are open Monday through Thursday, and closed on Fridays.

Horvath joined the city in 2005 as employee relations manager. He was the city’s human resources director from 2009 until his appointment as assistant city manager in October. Horvath is responsible for the city’s departments of community development and services, information technology, public works, parks and recreation, and utility services.

His arrest came three years to the day that former Henderson City Attorney Elizabeth Quillin resigned and accepted a $99,500 buyout following her May 2011 arrest on DUI charges. She later pleaded guilty to DUI-first offense, paid a fine, and attended a DUI class and a victim impact panel.

Contact Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3882. Find him on Twitter: @KnightlyGrind.

Officers kicked off SWAT after Bundy comment

Rapper Splashgod questions rough handling by Las Vegas police

Rapper questions rough handling by police

Local rapper Orlando Clemons was walking to his car after a downtown Las Vegas show in March when a Metro officer pulled up next to him.

What happened next has left the entertainer and some legal experts baffled. The officer pushed Clemons onto the hood of the patrol car: a forearm pressed against the back of his neck, his hands held behind his back. Clemons, 29, was arrested and cited for jaywalking and resisting arrest.

And the incident was caught on video.

Clemons, a hip-hop artist who goes by the name Splash God, had finished a show about 1 a.m. at the Beauty Bar on East Fremont Street, an area where many up-and-coming bands and musicians perform. He and his friends were filming a behind-the-scenes album promotional video while they walked to El Cortez’s parking garage.

What they didn’t expect was for Metro officer Paul Shreiber to make an appearance.

Schreiber drove past in his patrol car, made a U-turn and stopped.

“What’s up, man? Step in front of my car, please,” Shreiber said as he got out of the vehicle.

Confused, Clemons walked over, hands in the air with his palms exposed to the officer.

“I turned around to kind of surrender myself already, to let him know I didn’t have any weapons,” Clemons told the Las Vegas Review-Journal earlier this month.

But the officer almost immediately restrained Clemons’ hands behind him. When Clemons turned his head, the officer pushed his face onto the hood.

“I was just trying to talk to him,” Clemons said. “It’s hard to talk to an officer of the law when I’m in handcuffs and being jerked around like a beef jerky stick.”

Clemons asked the officer if he was being arrested.

“No,” the officer said.

Shreiber pulled Clemons off the car, attempted to trip him, then slammed Clemons back onto the hood of the patrol car as three more officers in two cars arrived.

Clemons was scared and worried that he might be stunned with a Taser or shot, he said.

“I really thought something bad was going to happen,” he said.

His friends tried to tell the officers that Clemons hadn’t done anything wrong.

“I don’t give a s—-, step away,” one of the officers shouted.

A few seconds later, one of Clemons’ friends, Frank Williams, was pushed toward the car by another officer, who then slammed Williams onto the hood.

The two were handcuffed, put in the back of a police car and taken to Las Vegas City Jail.

Clemons was arrested and cited for jaywalking and resisting arrest. He spent two days in jail. Williams was cited for obstructing an investigation and spent three days in jail.

The officer’s version of events doesn’t quite match the video, which doesn’t capture the entire exchange.

According to a police arrest report, Clemons refused Shreiber’s order to go to the front of the car and argued until the officer was forced to put Clemons’ hands behind his back. Shreiber said he pushed Clemons against the car to “maintain my control” when Clemons continued to resist and twist away, according to the report.

The video left some legal experts questioning the officer’s use of force in what eventually became a minor citation.

Allen Lichtenstein, American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada general counsel, said Metro could use its time better by “protecting people from real criminals, not jaywalkers.”

“Anyone who uses physical force for a jaywalking charge is being excessive,” Lichtenstein said.

Las Vegas criminal defense attorney E. Brent Bryson echoed Lichtenstein’s comments. Even if Clemons, who stands about 6 feet tall and has hair cut close to his head, did jaywalk, the officers’ actions were unwarranted. He questioned whether race — not jaywalking — prompted the initial stop.

“From what I can see from where the video starts, there is no basis, other than you have a couple of African-Americans walking down the sidewalk, for this particular officer to stop these individuals,” Bryson said. “I did not see anything that one would find typically with resisting arrest.”

But Bryson said he can understand how some behavior may have made officers tense. Police can maintain a scene to keep themselves safe, Bryson said. Some of Clemons’ friends disobeyed police orders to back away.

Metro launched an internal investigation into the arrest and found Shreiber did not violate any laws or policies. Shreiber declined to comment for this story through his supervisor, Downtown Area Command Capt. Shawn Andersen.

Anderson called Shreiber actions “reasonable.”

“Officer Shreiber was out there attempting to control somebody who was clearly resisting him, alone. It was important for him to do what he had to do to control that person as quick as possible,” Andersen said. “Those situations can escalate and be very dangerous.”

Police stepped up jaywalking enforcement recently in an attempt to lower the number of pedestrian deaths, Andersen said. Metro saw a spike in pedestrian deaths in 2012 and 2013, with 40 and 47, respectively, compared with just 23 in 2011.

The majority of the 900 pedestrian stops Andersen’s command makes each month rarely escalate to the physical level of Clemons’ case, he added.

“Having to put our hands on somebody is the absolute last thing we want to do,” Andersen said. “This was extraordinary.”

Clemons admitted that he had an outstanding traffic warrant because he was having trouble paying the fine.

“I’m not a bad guy, but you know, s—- happens and you can’t catch up with the money that you owe,” Clemons said.

Three months after the arrest, Clemons is still unsure why the officer stopped the group.

“Maybe he pulled me over because I was sagging,” Clemons said. The night of his arrest, the video shows him asking Shreiber for permission to pull up his camouflage cargo pants that had fallen off his hips.

Clemons is fighting the case in court. He said he does not plan to file a lawsuit against Metro.

“I just feel violated,” Clemons said. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

“No one expects, you know, walking down the street and just being put in handcuffs.”

Annalise Little contributed to this article. Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Find him on Twitter: @ColtonLochhead.

Las Vegas man indicted in attack on police sergeant Omar Brisbane broke Sgt. Tabitha Baker’s teeth when he punched her repeatedly as she tried to arrest him

missing tooth

A man accused of attacking a Las Vegas Metro police sergeant near Sam’s Town was indicted Thursday on a series of charges.

Omar Brisbane broke Sgt. Tabitha Baker’s teeth when he punched her repeatedly as she tried to arrest him June 1, while responding to a burglary report.

The sergeant first spotted Brisbane wearing nothing but shoes and boxer shorts, and attempted to handcuff him, according to a police report. The first punch caused Baker to stumble, before Brisbane punched her again. He then pinned the sergeant to the ground and kept punching her.

Omar Brisbane

Omar Brisbane

Brisbane tried to grab Baker’s gun, threatened to kill her and then ran from the scene before he was apprehended, the report stated.

Brisbane faces eight counts, including attempted murder, robbery, attempted robbery and five various battery charges.

Bail was set at $2 million for Brisbane, who remained in custody at the Clark County Detention Center.

Contact reporter David Ferrara at 702-380-1039 or dferrara@reviewjournal.com. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker.

Las week, after receiving reports that staff had hogtied juveniles at the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko, Las Vegas Family Court Judge William Voy ordered 12 Clark County offenders returned to his court

Former employees allege Las Vegas constable required kickbacks

Nevada U.S. Attorney sees rise in number of corrupt Nevada lawyers prosecuted

Featured

Las Vegas Review Journal - Tonja Brown "The Nolan Klein Story"

Nevada ranks number one in the Country for the most corrupt attorneys… We need to clean up the corruption within our judicial system and it starts with arresting and prosecuting the corrupt attorneys and judges!

Massive CRIME SCENE at Nevada attorney General Office in Carson City because of the rampant corruption in the CORRUPT Nevada Courts 
LVRJ News source: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/crime-courts/nevada-us-attorney-sees-rise-number-lawyers-prosecuted

bad lawyers judges

Prosecutors have noticed an “alarming” number of lawyers convicted of serious crimes in federal court in the past several years.tatro corrupt

A total of 23 lawyers, mostly from Las Vegas, have been convicted since 2008, according to the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office.

Since 2011, the number of convictions have increased nearly five times over the previous three years, records show.

There were four convictions between 2008 and 2010, but 19 between 2011 and this year. Eight attorneys either pleaded guilty or were convicted by a jury in 2013 alone.

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Dan Bogdenusdoj“In the last several years, the number of lawyers charged with federal crimes has increased dramatically,” U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden says.

“Although we cannot speculate as to the reason for the rise in numbers, we can say that it is embarrassing and sad when lawyers violate the very laws they have taken an oath to uphold.”

Bogden calls the growing rate of attorney prosecutions “alarming” in his 2013 annual report on the accomplishments of his office.

bad nevada lawyers

bad attorneys

He isn’t alone in noticing the increase.crime

“There’s been a significant uptick,” says David Clark, the chief counsel for the State Bar of Nevada, which regulates lawyers. “It’s a combination of economic realities and the increased vigilance on the part of federal prosecutors to go after lawyers.”

Clark says attorneys have struggled in the failing economy just like everyone else and have been forced to look for other ways to make money, sometimes landing in legal and professional trouble.

Of the 23 convictions since 2008, a total of 19 involved financial crimes such as tax evasion, bank fraud and mortgage fraud, records show.

Bankruptcy attorney Randolph Goldberg pleaded guilty to tax evasion last year and is now serving a 1½-year sentence in federal prison. Defense lawyer and former prosecutor Paul Wommer, who was convicted by a jury of tax evasion last year, is serving a nearly 3½-year prison sentence. Both are temporarily suspended and can expect more disciplinary action from the State Bar when they get out of prison.

psychopathUGjpg (1)

disbarredBusiness Woman Series 24Four Las Vegas attorneys — the late David Amesbury, Jeanne Winkler, Barry Levinson and Brian Jones — pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the federal investigation into the massive takeover of Las Vegas-area homeowners associations.

Amesbury killed himself weeks after he pleaded guilty, and the other three lawyers are cooperating with prosecutors and waiting to be sentenced.

Another attorney, Keith Gregory, is to stand trial in October in the HOA case, and one key target, attorney Nancy Quon, committed suicide before federal authorities could charge her.

Winkler was disbarred in 2011 for stealing money from her clients, and Levinson agreed to disbarment as part of the plea deal he struck with federal prosecutors earlier this year. He is currently suspended from practicing law.

kolo news coverage part 1

Other well-known lawyers have run afoul of the law:

■ Harvey Whittemore, a onetime political power broker, was convicted last year of unlawfully funneling more than $133,000 to the campaign of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. He was sentenced to two years in prison and must surrender in August. Whittemore is temporarily suspended from practicing law while the State Bar considers further action.

■ Noel Gage, who specialized in personal injury cases, pleaded guilty in 2010 to obstruction of justice in a federal investigation into an alleged fraud scheme involving a network of lawyers and physicians. He was sentenced to three years probation. Gage is off probation and his law license is temporarily suspended until the end of July. He must apply for reinstatement.

■ Lawrence Davidson, caught up in a political corruption probe a dozen years ago, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, money laundering and several other charges, including those related to his unlawful flight to Israel in 2006 to avoid standing trial. Davidson agreed to disbarment in 2005 after he was originally charged. He eventually returned to Las Vegas and was sentenced in 2012 to eight years in prison.

■ Gerry Zobrist, once a part-time Las Vegas justice of the peace, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud in a multimillion-dollar scheme to use straw buyers to unlawfully purchase homes in the valley. He was sentenced to seven years in federal prison. His law license has been suspended pending further disciplinary action.

nv judicial ethics

REASON FOR THE RISE

drunk lawyerThomas Pitaro, a respected criminal defense lawyer who has been practicing in Las Vegas for 40 years, says the stress of the legal profession likely has contributed to the rise in criminal prosecutions of attorneys.coke

“I think there are very few attorneys who steal for the hell of it,” Pitaro says. “It’s systematic of other problems — drugs, alcohol, gambling and living above their means.”

Pitaro also believes federal authorities are spending more time investigating white collar and financial crimes that have a higher probability of involving lawyers and other professionals.

Clark says his organization has stepped up its own vigilance of lawyers in recent years and has been working closely with law enforcement authorities.

“We’ve been sharing more information and developing more contacts with law enforcement,” he explains.

Clark points to the Levinson case as a prime example of the State Bar’s strong working relationship with police and federal authorities.

At one point, Las Vegas police, federal authorities and the State Bar all were working cases against Levinson at the same time, Clark says.

culture-of-corruption

In his federal deal, Levinson not only pleaded guilty in the HOA fraud case, but he also pleaded guilty to tax evasion and embezzling more than $243,000 from his clients. His deal calls for him to receive no less than two years in prison. Any time behind bars he gets in state court on theft charges will run concurrently with his federal sentence.

Levinson’s willingness to agree to disbarment in his federal plea was a first for prosecutors and the State Bar. Goldberg last year agreed to a two-year suspension in his federal plea agreement.

“It shows the evolution of our cooperation with law enforcement authorities,” Clark says.

nevada bar

NEVADA STATE BAR DISCIPLINE

Something else that is evolving is the State Bar’s approach to disciplining lawyers.

bad lawyers nevadaA Nevada Supreme Court rule says the State Bar can move to temporarily suspend a lawyer upon a “final judgment of conviction,” and the bar has waited over the years until a lawyer is sentenced. That’s when the federal courts, which see most of the criminal cases, recognize a final judgment of conviction.

But two criminal cases against lawyers, one in Clark County District Court and another in federal court, has Clark looking for temporary suspensions before sentencing.

The District Court case is against defense attorney Brian Bloomfield, who pleaded guilty in December to felony charges stemming from a fraud investigation into a sweeping courthouse counseling scheme. Bloomfield has continued to represent clients in court the past six months while waiting to be sentenced.

The federal case involves Brian Jones, who pleaded guilty in the HOA case more than two years ago and is also waiting to be sentenced. Jones has since moved to Utah and is not practicing law in Las Vegas, but his license remains active.how-our-courts-are-used-by-criminals

Last month Clark filed a petition with the state Supreme Court seeking a temporary suspension for Bloomfield while the State Bar prepares to file a complaint against him that could lead to his disbarment.

The State Bar counsel filed a similar petition last week to get Jones temporarily suspended.

Clark is hoping the Supreme Court will more clearly define the broad rule, which also allows the State Bar to seek a suspension after a guilty plea or jury conviction.

“In the past this hasn’t been so much of a problem because there hasn’t been a long disconnect between a guilty plea and a sentencing,” Clark recently said. “But lately, we’ve been seeing a greater delay.”

 

North Las Vegas judge Catherine Ramsey misused city money in fighting lawsuit

catherine-ramsey

Records from North Las Vegas show that Judge Catherine Ramsey billed some $12,000 in legal fees to the city between December and January tied to a wrongful termination suit filed by her former judicial assistant.

By JAMES DeHAVEN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
North Las Vegas Judge Catherine Ramsey is waging a costly legal battle against an ex-employee and, according to public records, used a city credit card to help pay for it.

Dozens of emails, letters and legal filings obtained by the Review-Journal highlight thousands of dollars in legal fees swiped on a city purchasing card as Ramsey faced mounting debt tied to a 3-year-old wrongful termination suit filed by her former judicial assistant.

The first-term judge billed some $12,000 in legal fees to the city between December and January, a move officials say amounts to a misappropriation of public funds.

It counts as just the latest in a series of public clashes between Ramsey and city officials, who have taken the judge to task in recent weeks over attorneys’ claims she has inappropriately dismissed criminal charges and waged a monthslong “vendetta” against the city attorney’s office.

“This is very troubling, and we are looking into it because city purchase cards are to be used for city-approved expenses only,” Mayor’s Office Chief of Staff Ryann Juden said Thursday.

Continue reading

Las Vegas Police Brutality Compilation Video

A Video Compilation of Las Vegas Police Brutality via Submission

TooManyCopsTooLittleJustice 300x174 A Video Compilation of Las Vegas Police Brutality via Submission

The video at the top of this post, consisting of a compilation of various videos showing past instances of police brutality by members of the LVMPD, was submitted by Jason Nellis and uploaded to his YouTube channel in order to encourage Las Vegas residentsto attend a January 21, 2014 Clark County Commission meeting, in which a vote will be held regarding Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s and Commissioner Tom Collins’continued attempts to force through an increase in the county sales tax to hire even more cops. In the description for the video Jason writes:

“A video made especially to oppose the “More Cops Tax” being pushed at the County Commission, to be voted on by the Commission on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014. A compilation of clips, news headlines, and a personal account of police brutality and police shootings of innocent people. Please watch all the way through as, even if you still think more cops will keep us safer, you will see that this new tax won’t be all it’s cracked up to be.

Facebook event page for the “More Cops Tax” hearing:https://www.facebook.com/events/23882…

Community opposition page, with facts and figures:http://www.snwatchdog.org/images/more…
Southern Nevada Watchdogs: http://www.snwatchdog.org
Nevada Cop Block Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NVCopBlock.org
“More Cops Tax” related videos: http://jazoovian.wordpress.com/2014/0…
An article I recently wrote on Vegas cops:http://jazoovian.wordpress.com/2013/1…

Also, for one stranger’s backup to my story toward the end (I have found no videos, after lots of searching, unfortunately), here is a comment on a Las Vegas Sun story that made no mention of the events even though the reporter was supposedly there:

‘I was present downtown on friday night. I saw people being harassed VIOLENTLY by police without provocation. It honestly appeared as if a riot response was what they were attempting to incite from the peaceful but incredibly confused crowd. My friends & I were almost trampled by a horse as the officer astride it charged a man whom another officer told to put his bottle on the cruiser next to me. The city of Las Vegas is known THE WORLD over for being a city in which open container drinking is not only allowed but encouraged as a lynchpin of our economy. Now all of a sudden it’s a law thats ONLY enforced on locals. As I type this, I am standing next to 4 men with 3foot margaritas & a police officer. They are certainly not being treated as I was when I was simply moving down the sidewalk.’”

MoreCopsFlyer A Video Compilation of Las Vegas Police Brutality via SubmissionEveryone certainly should come to the “More Cops” tax hearing, but even if you don’t see this post until after the vote has already been held, this video is well worth watching to see just howcorruptviolent, and completely unaccountable for their actions Las Vegas area police are. Among the notable clips included within this video are the case of a group of innocent and non-violent tourists that were attacked by Metro cops after they (the tourists) actually broke up a fight during New Years on the Strip, a Henderson motorist; who was repeatedly kicked in the head after falling asleep while driving; as a result of low blood sugar from being diabetic, themurder of Gulf War vet Stanley Gibson; who was suffering PTSD induced panic attack and completely innocent; as well as unarmed; when he was shot by Ofc. Jesus Arevalo, the murder of another veteran; Erik Scott; outside a local Costco store; in which the store’s surveillance camera somehow happened to be malfunctioning that day, and a recent case where an unarmed; innocent man was shot while attempting to walk out of a store; because a Metro cop mistook him for a suspect they were looking for.

Nye County sheriff candidate Rick Marshall caught stealing “Anybody but Rick Marshall” signs

Nye County sign theft caught on video

anybody but Rick MarshallNYE COUNTY, Nev. (MyNews4. com & KRNV) — Video has surfaced showing a Nye County law enforcement officer apparently pulling opponent’s campaign signs out of the ground.The video shows Nye County Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall removing an “Anybody But Rick” campaign sign. The incident led six Nye County Sheriff Deputies to pull Marshall over and arrest him for theft last week. Deputies said they found signs in the truck.News 4 contacted the DA’s office to see if Marshall will be facing charges, but our calls were not returned.
See: http://www.mynews4.com/news/local/story/Nye-County-sign-theft-caught-on-video/JJwmRLdJWUi1ba12dc4zSg.cspx

PAHRUMP — Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo says he still has a number of concerns over the way his officers handled the arrest of his second in command last week in a case that has ties to the political campaigns to replace him.

Among those concerns was whether it was necessary to have six deputies, some traveling at high rates of speed, respond to what amounted to a misdemeanor charge, and why a supervisor was not contacted before Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall and long-time sheriff’s volunteer Ben Gulley were taken into custody April 22. Both are accused of stealing and destroying 40 to 50 of his political signs that said “Anybody But Rick,” part of a campaign to keep Marshall out of the sheriff’s seat.

“I was not contacted and neither was Lt. Frank Jarvis who was sitting in my stead in regards to having a petit larceny regarding sign thefts,” DeMeo said Wednesday during a press conference. “Lt. Jarvis was available. He was not contacted. When Lt. Jarvis heard about the arrest he contacted me and I was available.”

DeMeo, who was on vacation on the Mediterranean Island of Malta at the time of the arrests, said he also had concerns regarding possible surveillance video turned into his office by a local store, which allegedly shows Det. David Boruchowitz meeting with Steven Lee, the man responsible for the anti-Marshall signs which the assistant sheriff was accused of stealing, prior to Marshall’s arrest.

“I know there is surveillance video of Det. Boruchowitz talking to Mr. Lee at some store prior to (the arrest),” DeMeo said. “Someone came forward and said that it was kind of odd Det. Boruchowitz would be talking to this guy making all these anti-Rick Marshall signs. I have questions about that, and we’re going to look into it, as to whether there was enough time to contact Lt. Jarvis or contact a supervisor who was working or contact me. Understand this, where I come from that would be a notify a supervisor moment.”

The sheriff said while he knew the alleged video supposedly showed the two meeting prior to the arrest, he was unsure on exactly when the meeting took place.

To help the sheriff get a clearer picture of what he would be walking into upon his return from vacation Tuesday, DeMeo had Lt. Mark Medina conduct a surface level investigation into whether there were any policy or criminal violations committed by the officers involved in Marshall and Gulley’s arrests.

“My concern as the sheriff was to address a lot of the rumors that were going on,” he said.

Based on video footage Medina and another detective were able to view, DeMeo said the lieutenant told him there did not appear to be any egregious violations of policy or the law that needed to be immediately addressed.

“What we did find out was there was a deputy looking into some signs that had gone missing. Thee deputy then gave that information to a detective, outside of policy,” DeMeo said. “There was a gun drawn, but the gun was not pointed at anyone in particular from what we understood from what we saw… Lt. Medina and Det. Joe Close looked at what video we have and they did not see any types of offenses occurring in the direction I gave them.”

DeMeo said there was also no indication, however, of whether or not Marshall and Gulley were given the opportunity to provide statements to officers on scene explaining their side of the story, another concern he says he has over the handling of their arrests.

In regard to his decision to place both Marshall and Det. David Boruchowitz — who was involved in Marshall’s arrest — on administrative leave over the last week, the sheriff said he wanted to ensure there was no immediate concern for the safety of the public or his office if they continued with their normal duties.

After speaking with Marshall following the incident, DeMeo said he informed Jarvis that Marshall would be reinstated, with restrictions on where he can go.

He said his decision to place Boruchowitz on administrative leave Sunday was in response to several rumors he had heard about what went on during the assistant sheriff and volunteer’s arrests.

“What we did find indication of is that Det. Boruchowitz was guiding the operation at that location… Because of the supervisory position Det. Boruchowitz had, now getting into some information and looking at what was coming to me 10,500 miles away, and without placing any discipline actions on Det. Boruchowitz, we placed him on admin leave to see if there was any misconduct that would either keep him on admin leave or reverse that,” DeMeo explained.

After the sheriff said Medina informed him there did not appear to be any major infractions on the detective’s part, they reinstated him to active duty on Tuesday.

To avoid any conflicts of interest in the handling of this case, DeMeo said both the criminal investigation and internal investigation of the incident will be turned over to an outside agency.

Officer asks District Attorney to review whether Metro broke law by burying air unit report

A Las Vegas police officer tasked with improving Metro’s troubled aviation unit has taken the unprecedented step of asking prosecutors to determine whether his bosses broke the law when they buried his report.

Lt. Gawain Guedry and a union lawyer recently met with Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson to ask for the probe, the Review-Journal has learned. Guedry is seeking whistleblower status under a Nevada law designed to protect peace officers who report “improper governmental action” by their employers.

djashba

DJ Ashba, lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, posted a photo of himself and his girlfriend on Instagram as they took a private ride in a Las Vegas police helicopter in August.

Metro had promised transparency and accountability after a series of mishaps rocked the embattled air support unit in the past two years. In addition to a pair of near-fatal helicopter crashes in 2012 — which prompted Guedry’s internal investigation — the unit also saw one officer die in an accident and several others punished after a ride-along scandal last year.

Wolfson said this week that prosecutors are reviewing the lieutenant’s claim, but he couldn’t make further comment. If Wolfson agrees with Guedry, the law says he could prosecute the department.

Metro, for its part, says no report was buried and no law was broken.

Undersheriff Jim Dixon, who in 2012 asked Guedry to investigate the air unit’s problems, said Guedry never specified what law Metro allegedly broke.

“It’s one thing to say we violated something. But tell us what we supposedly violated,” Dixon said. “This is an issue for the DA’s office. We will not involve ourselves in it. I will certainly not involve myself in it.”

UNUSUAL MOVE

Several longtime police officials said they’ve never seen an officer take a complaint about a management decision to the District Attorney under this law, which prohibits Metro from retaliating against Guedry for reporting the alleged violation.

Guedry hasn’t clarified his position. He and Lt. John Faulis, who heads Guedry’s union, both declined comment. But within the agency Guedry has been vocal about his frustrations with his bosses’ handling of his investigation.

Dixon said he hasn’t spoken to Guedry about his issues.

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