The federal government's star witness in a political corruption investigation, and perhaps the most controversial figure in the case, recently became the third former Clark County commissioner to land at a certain Las Vegas halfway house.
Nearly two years have passed since Erin Kenny reported to prison, but her former constituents in the northwest valley haven't forgotten the crimes she committed during her tenure. Not only did Kenny, 48, accept cash bribes from then-strip club owner Michael Galardi and a handful of developers, but she also pushed through projects that will never be reversed.
"People still talk about her," said Carolyn Edwards, an activist who often butted heads with Kenny. "One can hope she learned from this, but there is some skepticism, some disappointment (in the community)."
Kenny finished her time at an Arizona federal prison camp and was transferred this week to the Las Vegas Community Corrections Center on Industrial Road. Dario Herrera, a former commissioner Kenny helped convict, was briefly housed at the same facility, but sources said he has since been released and is serving his remaining sentence at home. Commissioner Mary Kincaid-Chauncey also passed through the same halfway house in December.
After assisting FBI agents and guiding them through their investigation into commissioners accepting bribes from Galardi, Kenny testified against both Herrera and Kincaid-Chauncey. Kenny immediately began cooperating with the federal government after she, Herrera, Kincaid-Chauncey, Galardi and Lance Malone, a former commissioner-turned-lobbyist for Galardi, were indicted in 2003. Galardi soon followed and also testified during the 2006 trial.
The commissioners accepted cash from Galardi in exchange for support for his strip club empire. Malone, who pleaded guilty shortly before he was scheduled to go to trial, worked as Galardi's right-hand man. When Kenny begged for campaign money, Herrera asked for cash for a new apartment or Kincaid-Chauncey requested a donation for her grandson's ski school, Malone delivered, according to federal prosecutors.
Kenny's testimony was much anticipated, but she stunned spectators and defense attorneys alike when she took the stand and explained that she suffered from vertigo and remembered little about accepting the bribes. Galardi told jurors he gave her between $150,000 and $200,000; Kenny said it was more like $50,000 to $70,000.
In addition, Kenny testified that she received more than $100,000 from Triple Five Development, $200,000 from real estate consultant Don Davidson and $20,000 from a developer she knew only by the name "China man."
Kenny irked residents who attended her sentencing hearing when she addressed the judge, but never apologized for abusing voters' trust.
"She showed no remorse before the judge," said Edwards, who was present during the sentencing proceedings. "She got the lightest sentence she could get. Some people think she should have got more, but it's over and done."
Before she was sentenced to 30 months in prison, Kenny's attorney, Frank Cremen, blamed the media for the public's hatred of Kenny, saying it "has made this woman the most vilified and hated woman in Clark County."
Kenny testified that she accepted $3,000 a month from Triple Five for at least three years after she backed the company's proposal to build a casino in Spring Valley despite strong opposition from constituents. The project won approval in 2000, but was killed by state gaming regulators.
Kenny accepted the cash from Davidson after she agreed to amend a zoning designation to the county's master plan to allow for commercial development at the residential intersection of Buffalo Drive and Desert Inn Road. During the same meeting, the pharmacy was approved because it was compatible with the newly amended master plan.
Edwards, whose home is adjacent to the pharmacy, said the commission has changed in a positive manner since Kenny's behavior was uncovered. For example, master plans cannot be touched for two years after they are revised, which is every five years.
"The commission is much more conscientious about its behavior and its duties, and I think that's all good stuff," said Edwards, who is now a Clark County School Board member. "It comes at a price, and I'm paying that price."
After she left office, Kenny was hired as a consultant by developer Jim Rhodes. She was paid $200,000 a year.
Kenny was ordered to pay the federal government $200,000 in restitution.
If Kenny's experience at the corrections center is similar to that of Herrera and Kincaid-Chauncey, the mother of five will likely be settling back home within two weeks.
Kenny reported to prison in October 2007; her formal release date from the prison system is mid-December.
Herrera and Kincaid-Chauncey spent about a week in the 124-bed corrections center due to space constraints. .
Inmates are allowed to leave the institution only 45 minutes a day. Aside from that, they are permitted to watch television or read. During the day, the residents can mingle but at night they bunk in large rooms separated by gender.
Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-384-8710.