Former CSN official guilty of theft


The former head of construction for the College of Southern Nevada was found guilty Tuesday of stealing building material and equipment from the institution to build his million-dollar home near Mount Charleston.

Former CSN Associate Vice President William "Bob" Gilbert was found guilty of 11 felony counts of theft after the jury deliberated for more than seven hours.

He faces probation or dozens of years in prison. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Jan. 3 before Judge Donald Mosley.

Authorities said Gilbert and three co-defendants took construction-grade material and equipment from the college for Gilbert to build his house in lower Kyle Canyon, and the co-defendants worked on the house when they should have been working on campus. One state investigator described Gilbert's property as "a Home Depot" of building supplies.

Afterward, Gilbert's defense team appeared stunned by the verdict. Attorneys John Momot and Brent Bryson argued throughout the monthlong trial that Gilbert had permission to use the material and equipment for college-related projects on his property.

Former CSN President Ron Remington testified he gave Gilbert permission to do construction work, including welding, at his residence because the college did not have the storage space or facilities for the work on campus. But he said Gilbert was not authorized to make personal use of college materials and equipment.

Afterward, Gilbert said he was shocked. "I felt like the attorneys proved my innocence beyond a reasonable doubt," he said.

Momot said the verdict will be appealed.

"This is the first phase of the trial, the guilt phase,'' Momot said. "Next will come the appeal phase, and that's where Mr. Gilbert will be vindicated."

Gilbert remains free until the sentencing.

Chief Deputy State Attorney General Conrad Hafen, who prosecuted the case, said that though the case was based mostly on circumstantial evidence, "that circumstantial evidence was very, very strong."

Hafen lauded the state's investigators, who the defense attorneys said had not done a thorough job.

"Even though he (Gilbert) may have done his job well at the college, what he was really doing behind the scenes was stealing from the college unbeknownst to anybody to benefit himself," Hafen said.

Days before the trial began, Gilbert's co-defendants -- Thad Skinner, Matthew Goins and George Casal -- pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit theft, a gross misdemeanor, and were sentenced to one year of probation.

Gilbert has maintained his innocence since his 2008 grand jury indictment. On Tuesday he said he was shocked by the verdict because he had acted with the knowledge and authority of CSN presidents.

"The college didn't have a hot works facility,'' he said. "Where do they think it (the work) was going to get done?"

Gilbert, a former Marine, said he does not regret refusing a pre-trial plea offer.

"I don't believe I could plead guilty to something I didn't do," he said.

Before the trial, Hafen offered probation in return for a guilty plea on three felony theft counts and payment of $20,000 in restitution.

Hafen said he will ask Mosley to impose the maximum sentence of 11 to 65 years in prison, which he called appropriate because Gilbert has a prior felony conviction.

Gilbert pleaded guilty to an embezzlement charge involving $6,200 in 1991. Gilbert was indicted on multiple counts in a federal case while working as a construction manager for an Indian tribe in California. He was accused of falsifying equipment invoices and having the tribe write checks to phony companies.

Hafen said Tuesday's verdict "sends a very strong message that corruption involving state employees at institutions of higher learning will not be tolerated by this office."

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

 

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