Boggs charged with lying


The video didn't lie.

The grainy footage of then-Clark County Commissioner Lynette Boggs, clad in a bathrobe, walking outside a home that was not inside her district helped seal her defeat in last year's election.

Now those same images could help land her behind bars.

In an unprecedented move, District Attorney David Roger on Monday charged Boggs with lying in her campaign paperwork about where she lived and about paying a nanny from campaign coffers. The 43-year-old faces four felonies, two counts each of perjury and filing false or forged documents.

"Nevada law requires people to be truthful in their filings," Roger said after making the decision.

Boggs was traveling abroad Monday but planned to return today to Las Vegas to turn herself in, Roger said.

Boggs' lawyer, Bill Terry, did not return a call to his office.

Roger's decision to charge Boggs raised eyebrows among state historians and political observers.

Historian and state archivist Guy Rocha said he could not remember a politician ever facing criminal charges for claiming to live in an election district while living elsewhere. A few cases usually surface each election year, but Nevada has a history of ignoring them, he said.

"These things would pop up a little bit, people would grouse a little bit, and then they would go away," he said.

That attitude could change with this case, he said.

"It's unprecedented," Rocha said. "If they find her guilty ... it's going to send a message."

Roger made his decision after reviewing the case prepared by the Nevada Department of Investigation, which had been looking into the allegations since October.

The state attorney general and secretary of state normally handle such investigations, but Attorney General George Chanos and Secretary of State Dean Heller recused themselves because Boggs' campaign treasurer had worked for them also.

The charges center on a pair of documents she filed last year in her bid to continue to represent County Commission District F, which spans the southwest part of the county.

The first two charges stem from Boggs' declaration of candidacy filed on May 1, 2006. In the document, Boggs said she lived at 6386 Grays River Court, when she lived at 3646 Dutch Valley Drive, according to an investigator's report. The Dutch Valley address was not in District F.

Boggs had said she split time between the two homes, but a former assistant, Linda Ferris, told investigators that the commissioner barely set foot in the Grays River house.

Ferris told investigators that Boggs told her to rent the house inside the district boundaries then wrote monthly $400 checks to Ferris to "establish a paper trail to the Grays River residence," according to the report.

Ferris cashed the checks and gave the money back to Boggs, the report said.

When allegations about where Boggs lived became public in August 2006, Boggs put her name on the lease, Ferris told investigators. Ferris said she was fired for questioning the arrangement.

The second set of charges relates to Boggs' campaign expense report filed in August on which Boggs listed $1,230 in payments to Kelly Mcleod as expenses for special events. Mcleod told investigators she was paid to baby-sit Boggs' children, according to the report.

Boggs reimbursed her campaign the $1,230, saying she thought paying for child care while she was at political events was within the law.

Both allegations first were raised by two local labor unions.

As last year's election approached, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association and Culinary Local 226 hired a private investigator to surveil the commissioner outside her house.

Over six consecutive weeks, the investigator recorded video that showed Boggs picking up her newspaper, taking out the trash and coming and going with her children from the 3,700-square-foot home on Dutch Valley.

The private investigator also secured a sworn statement from Mcleod about her baby-sitting payments.

Armed with the results of their investigation, the unions filed a lawsuit in September to have Boggs removed from the ballot. The election came and went before the lawsuit could be heard, making the matter moot.

Despite a huge fundraising advantage and a sizeable lead in the polls, Boggs lost in a landslide to challenger Susan Brager, who took 59 percent of the vote.

"We were just the vehicle," said David Kallas, the former executive director of the police union, after hearing news of the criminal charges. "This was something that impacted hundreds of thousands of people who were supposed to be represented by this person claiming to live in this district."

"Realistically, this validates our claims that we believed she was breaking the law," said Kallas, now director of intergovernmental services for the association.

Pilar Weiss, political director for the Culinary union, said she was not surprised to hear about the charges.

"We thought these concerns should be taken seriously, and they were," she said. "It's a good thing when concerns are taken seriously.

"The system works within its own time constraints, but the system seems to have worked."

Boggs had said she thought the unions targeted her because of her vote in 2005 to remove Commissioner Tom Collins from the Metropolitan Police Department Fiscal Affairs Committee, which was set to approve a substantial raise for the police union.

Collins, a union supporter, backed the raise, and Boggs' vote was seen as opposition to the new contract.

Boggs also had ties to Station Casinos, a longtime foe of the Culinary union.

Collins, who campaigned for Brager, said he "wasn't surprised at all" by the charges. He said the financial irregularities in the Boggs campaign were plain to see and so was the residency issue.

"It was pretty obvious," he said. "It was on video."

Boggs is just the latest former county commissioner to run afoul of the law.

Former commission members Dario Herrera, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey and Lance Malone are serving time in federal prison for their roles in the bribery scheme of former strip club owner Michael Galardi, who handed out money to ensure lax stripper laws.

Former Commissioner Erin Kenny pleaded guilty in connection with the same case and is due to be sentenced July 11.

Former Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson-Gates resigned her post earlier this year amid a police investigation into campaign payments she made to her son and other relatives.

Asked whether the scandals have shaken the public's trust in the commission, Collins said a certain level of distrust comes with the territory.

"I grew up in Vegas. Commissioners were getting convicted 40 years ago," he said. "This ain't new."

Boggs' political career began in 1998 with a failed bid for the state Assembly. She had been a Republican but ran as a Democrat for the legislative seat. Afterward, she switched back to the GOP.

In 1999, the former Miss Oregon and assistant Las Vegas city manager was appointed to the Las Vegas City Council to fill the seat vacated by Arnie Adamsen when he launched a mayoral bid.

Boggs mounted a failed challenge to U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley in 2002 and two years later was appointed to the commission. She defeated Democrat David Goldwater later that year to hold the seat and seemed positioned to win again before the new allegations surfaced heading into last year's election.

But Boggs, a former reporter who once held public relations jobs with University Medical Center and University of Nevada, Las Vegas, had overcome bad publicity earlier in her political career.

In 2001, she faced state ethics charges for accepting a trip from Station Casinos to her alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. The state Ethics Commission cleared her with a 5-1 vote, saying she properly reported the trip as a campaign contribution.

Two years later, Boggs became a board member for Station Casinos but resigned the following year to become a county commissioner.

Boggs faced another ethics complaint in 2004 after former Assemblyman Wendell Williams accused her of trying to influence a bill during the 2003 legislative session that could have threatened her husband's job in the state treasurer's office.

The ethics complaint came a month before the election in her race against Goldwater, but it did not keep her from winning. The state Ethics Commission cleared her of any wrongdoing with a 5-1 vote.

In May, she announced the founding of FaithWorks, a nonprofit foundation that was to "address the physical and spiritual needs of the marginal and oppressed," according to the group's news release. She had a weekly hour-long religious talk show on the Internet that debuted May 3.

The criminal charges could be enough to derail any talk of a political future for the once-rising star in the state Republican Party, said David Damore, a UNLV political science professor.

"If she was thinking of a comeback, this would put an end to that," he said.

 

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