Las Vegas SWAT team responding to northwest valley neighborhood

A Metro SWAT team on Sunday afternoon is responding to a garage in the northwest valley.

Police were called to a neighborhood in the area of Sterling Silver Street and Old Oxford Avenue, near North Torrey Pines and Peak drives, Metro Lt. Patrick Charoen said.

A male who is possibly armed with a knife is refusing to come out of a garage, Charoen said.

Details on how the situation began were not immediately available.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Ricardo Torres at and 702-383-0381. Find him on Twitter: @rickytwrites

CCSD hires ex-city worker fired for death threats

A North Las Vegas worker terrorized city employees for years even after being fired but that didn’t stop the Clark County School District from considering him a good hire.

Six months after being hired by the school district in 2013, Michael P. Curley was arrested for the same behavior that caused North Las Vegas to fire him: threatening to kill city employees and their families.

In one instance, according to court filings, he threatened to shoot his boss’ children in the kneecaps.

Curley now works as a custodian at Valley High School.

Curley pleaded guilty to two counts of felony conspiracy to commit stalking in June. After being fired over threats of violence, city employees continued to receive death threats from Curley for four years, according to a North Las Vegas police report. Curley is not allowed to contact city employees or go to City Hall.

Curley’s menacing while employed by the city included saying he would place a bomb under a car, kick a co-worker’s teeth in if he didn’t join a union and boasting about giving a “blanket party” where a person would have a blanket tossed over his head and be beaten, according to the city.

Curley worked for North Las Vegas from 1996 to 2009. He cleaned sewers for the city before being fired.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Curley’s claim Tuesday that the city fired him in 2009 because of a hearing disability. Curley asked to no longer work with a certain type of truck because its noise was causing his hearing to deteriorate.

Curley argued the timing of his firing, shortly after he filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, was suspicious.

The record is clear; Curley had been acting this way since the early 2000s, his attorney Michael Balaban said. Balaban noted he was not trying to defend Curley’s conduct. The argument is that the city let the conduct slide until Curley alleged discrimination.

The court agreed with the city that it shouldn’t be punished for attempting to work out discipline with Curley’s union first, said North Las Vegas City Attorney Sandra Douglass Morgan. She said the city had disciplined Curley in the past, so he wasn’t just fired out of the blue.

During the city investigation, which also showed that Curley disparaged the city and wasted company time, Curley underwent an evaluation and a doctor determined he wasn’t a danger to himself or others. The 9th Circuit ruled that the evaluation only concluded if he was a present danger, it wasn’t intended to help the city decide how to handle past threats.

One issue about Curley’s work ethic included that he was running an Americans with Disabilities Act consulting business while on the job for North Las Vegas.

After being sacked, Curley lost control, according to a police report. He tracked down the city’s former director of human resources’ adult son, leaving messages that he planned to kill him to teach his father a lesson. He said he knew where he worked and listed details about the building, the report states. He found another city employee’s wife who lived in Chicago and called her, too. He insinuated to people that he had mafia connections.

When North Las Vegas police went to Curley’s home they found two handguns and a loaded AR-15 rifle.

Curley told officers he was an alcoholic who after 17 years of sobriety had fallen apart after being fired. He confessed, saying he had felt his firing was unjust and that he hadn’t intended to harm anyone. He said his actions were fueled by his drinking.

Curley was hired by the school district as a custodian on June 7, 2013, several months before his arrest.

School district employees are supposed to self-report arrests, district spokeswoman Melinda Malone said. It was unclear by press time if Curley, who is currently employed by the school district, had self-reported or if the district had expressed any concerns about his murky past with North Las Vegas.

Malone said it isn’t the school district’s practice to hire convicted felons and if someone is convicted the district immediately moves for dismissal.

Curley was convicted and sentenced Nov. 20.

Custodians go through the same vetting process as other school support staff, teachers and administrators, according to Malone. That includes a local background check by the Metropolitan Police Department and an FBI background check. Malone said the district also checks custodian applicants’ references.

Douglass Morgan said the decision will benefit public and private employers since it’s published and can be cited in other cases in the region. The decision will embolden employers to not be skittish about firing potentially dangerous employees, she said.

Curley declined to comment through his attorney.

Contact Bethany Barnes at or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes. Contact Trevon Milliard at or 702-383-0279. Find him on Twitter: @TrevonMilliard.

WOW! Over 700 school district employees exit Nevada State Education Association

keep-calm-because-we-don-t-need-no-education-2LAS VEGAS — Over 700 teachers and support staff workers left their respective local affiliates of the Nevada State Education Association over the last summer, the Nevada Policy Research Institute announced today.+

At least seven support-staff unions, including those in the Clark and Washoe County School Districts, have also fallen below 50 percent membership and would be decertified upon a vote withdrawing recognition by their local school board.

The decreasing number of union employees comes after NPRI undertook numerous efforts to let teachers and support staff employees know about their ability to drop union membership, but only by submitting written notice from July 1 to 15.

These membership statistics come directly from school-district officials in response topublic records requests.

The Clark County School District saw the biggest drop in the number of teachers and support-staff workers belonging to their local union. At the close of the 2013-14 school year, the Clark County Education Association had 10,782 members out of 17,851 teachers, or 60.4 percent. At the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, CCEA membership had fallen to under 59 percent with just 10,637 of CCSD’s 18,033 teachers a member of the union. That’s a decline of 327 union members — with net membership falling 145, while the number of teachers increased by 182. 

At the close of the last year, 5,642 of CCSD’s 11,225 support staffers were members of the Education Support Employee Association. At the start of this school year just 5,477 of CCSD’s 11,132 support staffers are members of ESEA, , a net decline of 137 members. With a membership of just 49.2 percent of workers, the CCSD board of trustees could vote immediately to withdraw recognition from ESEA according to NRS 288.160.3(c).

NSEA’s support-staff unions in at least six other school districts, including Washoe, Carson City, Douglas County, Elko, Humboldt and White Pine School Districts, have also fallen below the 50 percent threshold.

In the Washoe County School District, for instance, just 21 percent or 557 of its 2,658 support employees, are union members, which includes a decline of 96 union members over the summer. In the Elko County School District fewer than 20 percent of support staffers are union members, while support-staff union membership in Carson City is under 39 percent.

In early 2014, over 60.4 percent or 2,331 of the Washoe County School District’s 3,853 teachers were union members. In the fall of 2014, the Washoe Education Association had added seven new members, but the total number of teachers had increased by 109. On net, its union membership decreased by over 100 and the percentage of union membership among teachers fell to 59 percent.

“This summer, over 700 school district employees decided to leave the Nevada State Education Association,” said Victor Joecks, NPRI executive vice president. “Hundreds of these employees left — or never joined in the first place — after learning from NPRI that union membership is optional. NPRI is proud to have empowered teachers and support staffers with the information they needed.”

“This year alone, school district employees have given themselves a raise worth over $450,000 by keeping more of their salaries for their families instead of putting those dollars into the hands of union bosses.”

Joecks noted that, in total, NPRI’s information efforts have released over 2,150 teachers and support staffers from Nevada State Education Association membership and now saves school-district employees over $1.5 million a year. Over the last three years, NPRI’s efforts have helped school-district employees move over $3.2 million out from under the control of union bosses.

“In the last three years, CCEA membership has plummeted from 65 percent of teachers to less than 59 percent.” Joecks said. “In at least seven school districts, support staff union membership is under 50 percent. It’s time for school boards in these districts to withdraw recognition from NSEA’s local chapters and allow workers to form local-only unions, such as those that exist in states like Kansas.

“Teachers and support staff workers around Nevada have voted with their feet and showed their displeasure with NSEA. They’re tired of lousy customer service, high salaries for union officials and the union spending school district employees’ money on political causes those employees often don’t agree with.

“Until the NSEA views its potential members as customers to serve instead of cash cows to exploit, decreasing membership will continue.”


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 or 702-383-0440. Find her on Twitter: @YeseniaAmaro.

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.