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.