John Bonaventura and Lou Toomin were freshmen legislators when I first met the less-than-dynamic duo during the 1993 Legislature.
My impression then: losers. The Democrats served in that lone session and have worked hard at embarrassing themselves ever since.
But Toomin could yet end up a winner: Unlike Bonaventura, he hasn’t been indicted in connection with the pair’s runaway buffoonery in the since-dismantled Las Vegas constable’s office.
Bonaventura, now 54, lucked his way back into office in 2010 when he won the Las Vegas constable’s election. He hired Toomin, now 81, as his public information officer.
Bonaventura did such a pitiful job and was involved in so many scandals, the Clark County Commission decided to eliminate the job when his term ended in January 2015 and have Las Vegas police absorb the constable’s duties.
Bonaventura was indicted Feb. 8 on charges of illegal wiretapping, theft and misconduct of a public official. Some charges were linked with Toomin, which made me wonder why Toomin wasn’t charged.
Toomin testified against his former boss before the grand jury, and he is expected to testify at Bonaventura’s trial.
Toomin told me, and a knowledgeable source confirmed, that he was not a target of the investigation and wasn’t granted immunity. The explanation: His age, he has a shaky memory and he wasn’t enriched by their misdeeds.
Bonaventura was charged with illegally recording people without their knowledge: two newsmen, one judge, one county commissioner and several lawyers. The indictment’s language also said Bonaventura illegally recorded these people “and/or Louis Toomin” in the case of two Review-Journal journalists.
The theft and misconduct of a public official charges stem from Bonaventura’s purchase of a house owned by Toomin. The constable raised Toomin’s salary and promoted him from PIO to chief operating official “in part to repay a personal debt owed to Louis Toomin,” the indictment alleged. Bonaventura is alleged to have cheated the taxpayers out of more than $3,500 by using the raise to help pay for the house debt.
Toomin told me he didn’t do anything illegal because he didn’t record the people named in the indictment. Previously, he told the Review-Journal’s David Ferrara that Bonaventura would call him into his office to witness calls with reporters without disclosing that he was recording them.
Didn’t Toomin know that Bonaventura was committing a crime? First he said he knew. When I asked why he didn’t report it, he said he knew once police told him.
Wasn’t he suspicious about the raise? “I asked for the raise and I was given new duties as chief operating officer,” Toomin said, insisting he did nothing wrong regarding the raise or the house he sold to Bonaventura.
When he was a legislator, Bonaventura was best known for telling lobbyists that if they wanted to talk to him, they could come to Adele’s, Carson City’s most expensive bar and restaurant. By the end of the 1993 Legislature, he was dishonored as the worst freshman legislator, described as “absolutely worthless.” That tag still sticks today.
When Toomin was a lawmaker, he didn’t get along with other legislators and thus had trouble getting his bills passed.
Toomin has evolved from a loser to a sad sack.
The justice system eventually will decide whether Bonaventura evolved from loser to crook.