Former college official turns down plea deal in theft case

A former College of Southern Nevada associate vice president on Thursday rejected a plea bargain deal from state prosecutors .

William "Bob" Gilbert faces more than a dozen felony charges, including theft and misconduct of a public officer. He is accused of stealing building material and equipment from the college to help build his home near Mount Charleston. If convicted, Gilbert could face decades in prison.

Chief Deputy State Attorney General Conrad Hafen told District Judge Donald Mosley the deal would have entailed Gilbert pleading guilty to three felony counts of theft, with a recommended sentence of five years probation and $20,000 in restitution to the college. Hafen said upon completion of those terms, the felony counts could be reduced to misdemeanors.

It was a harsher deal than Gilbert's three co-defendants accepted Thursday.

Thad Skinner, Matthew Goins and George Casal each pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit theft, a gross misdemeanor, and were sentenced to one year of probation. The men do not have to testify against Gilbert but did say in open court that they conspired with him to steal college property.

Only Casal still works for the college.

Hafen said the offer to Gilbert will remain open through the weekend, but Mosley warned him that he won't approve any deals after the trial starts at 1:30 p.m. Monday. Mosley said he was concerned and made Gilbert make a public record of his rejection of the deal.

"I can see an awful specter of disappointment at some point,'' Mosley said. "I don't pretend to know everything there is to know about this case, but I would be really surprised if you would leave this court with a total win on all counts. It just looks to me like there is a mountain of evidence here. I realize there are some defenses and there are some things I don't know, I'll grant you that. I'm just trying to be fair here."

Gilbert has maintained his innocence since he was indicted by a grand jury in 2008. Responding that he had discussed the deal with his attorneys, he said, "I'm not interested in a plea deal."

In a pretrial motion, Mosley ruled prosecutors can, under limited circumstances only, tell jurors Gilbert pleaded guilty to an embezzlement charge involving $6,200 in November 1991.

Court records show Gilbert was indicted on multiple counts in a federal case while working as a construction manager for an American Indian tribe in California, Hafen said. The indictment alleged that Gilbert and others would falsify invoices and have the tribe write checks to phony companies for equipment.

Mosley said prosecutors can only bring up the conviction if Gilbert takes the stand in his own defense and testifies that he intended to return the CSN equipment and material, or that he made a mistake.

Hafen had asked the court that he not be limited in his ability to question Gilbert about the conviction.

The case against Gilbert centers on college building materials and equipment found on his five acres in lower Kyle Canyon. Authorities claim he and the co-defendants took the construction-grade material and equipment so that Gilbert could build his house, and that the co-defendants worked on the house when they should have been working on campus.

Gilbert's defense team, including attorneys Brent Bryson and John Momot, have indicated that the no-nonsense former Marine had permission from college officials to store material and repair CSN equipment at his property because the college lacks a storage and repair facility.

Two former CSN presidents have backed up that assertion.

Bryson said the charges stem from allegations made by disgruntled former college employees who were fired by Gilbert.

Lawyers in the case have said the trial could last five weeks, though with fewer defendants it might end sooner.

The witness lists of prosecutors and the defense total more than 125, but some overlap is expected.

Mosley admonished both sides that he didn't want to hear numerous witnesses testifying to the same thing.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at or 702-380-1039.