Wolfson recuses his office from Collins inquiry

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Thursday he is recusing his office from an investigation into an illegal shooting alleged to involve County Commissioner Tom Collins.

The case was sent to the state attorney general's office for review, Wolfson said.

North Las Vegas police Sgt. Tim Bedwell said earlier this week alcohol might have played a role in the shooting.

"Alcohol was involved," Bedwell said. He declined to elaborate.

When reached by phone late Thursday afternoon, Collins declined comment.

A witness told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that at least seven gunshots were fired from Collins' North Las Vegas property the night of July 3 and that Collins was yelling.

Collins would not confirm earlier this week whether he fired a weapon that night, saying only that he performed his "usual celebration" for the Fourth of July. He did not give details about his tradition.

Wolfson released a statement through the county's public information office: "In an effort to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, I am turning this case over to the Nevada Attorney General's Office."

Collins voted to appoint Wolfson earlier this year to replace outgoing District Attorney David Roger. Collins also votes in his capacity as a county commissioner to determine the budget for Wolfson's office.

Wolfson, through a county spokesman, explained his reasoning for recusing his office from the Collins investigation, while continuing to investigate an alleged extortion plot against County Commissioner Steve Sisolak.

"The difference is that one is an alleged victim of a crime and the other is potentially a defendant," Wolfson said. "My role is to determine whether I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty. My focus is on the defendant and their actions; and it is the defendant who is most impacted by my decision."

He continued, noting the direct impact Collins has on his office: "The County Commission sets the budget and staffing levels for this office," Wolfson said.

North Las Vegas police responded to a call of an illegal shooting in the 4200 block of North Decatur Boulevard, near Craig Road, less than an hour before the start of the holiday.

According to county property records, Collins owns a home in the 4200 block of North Decatur Boulevard that was purchased in 1997. The home sits on more than an acre of land.

The witness said the lights on Collins' pickup were on that night, music was blaring and that the commissioner appeared to be cutting down a tree or bush. The man said he watched officers, with weapons drawn, confront Collins.

Collins has had other run-ins with North Las Vegas police.

In 1991, he was charged with felony drunken driving and reckless driving after crashing the truck he was driving, injuring himself and two other men.

Collins, whose legal name is Clarence Weldon Collins Jr., was then the North Las Vegas Planning Commission chairman.

He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and agreed to attend drunken driving classes.

Collins also was convicted of two misdemeanor battery charges stemming from two fights in the 1980s. Collins said one fight was over an alleged theft and the other involved a road rage incident.

Review-Journal reporters Antonio Planas and Kristi Jourdan contributed to this report. Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.