Former Clark County Commissioner Mary Kincaid-Chauncey was transferred to a Las Vegas halfway house late Tuesday after spending nearly two years in a women's prison for her role in one of Southern Nevada's most notorious political corruption cases.
The Las Vegas Community Corrections Center confirmed Wednesday that the 70-year-old Kincaid-Chauncey was transferred to its Industrial Road facility, where, the Bureau of Prisons said, she is expected to remain until March.
Kincaid-Chauncey will have more freedom in the office-style building behind Circus Circus than she did at the federal prison camp in Victorville, Calif., where she had been housed since Jan. 12, 2007. The halfway house helps newly released inmates re-establish ties to their families and the community and find jobs, according to its Web site.
Kincaid-Chauncey was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Her husband, Robert Chauncey, said he was asked by the facility's director not to discuss his wife.
A jury convicted the two-term commissioner on charges of accepting bribes from strip club owner Michael Galardi and his bagman, Lance Malone. Malone and Kincaid-Chauncey served on the county's board together for four years.
They were two of five charged with delivering or accepting bribe money. Also snared in the FBI's investigation, which included hundreds of intercepted telephone conversations that led to indictments in 2003, were Galardi and former commissioners Dario Herrera and Erin Kenny.
Kenny and Galardi entered plea deals and testified against Herrera and Kincaid-Chauncey, who were tried together. Malone signed a plea agreement days before his trial was scheduled to start last year.
Robert Rose, a San Diego-based attorney who represented Galardi, said the former owner of Cheetah's and Jaguars was released from a Long Beach, Calif., federal prison camp in July. The 47-year-old, who is in a San Diego halfway house, is expected to be released from the prison system on Jan. 5, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
Kenny, who like Galardi was sentenced to 30 months in prison, is scheduled to be released in January. Herrera, who was sentenced to 51 months, is also expected to be released that month. Malone, who drew the stiffest sentence, is serving time at a Lompoc prison and will not be freed until 2012.
Kincaid-Chauncey appealed her conviction with hopes the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would clear her name and reinstate her right to vote. Malone appealed his six-year sentence. The appeals court has not ruled on either case.
Debbie Swan, a great-niece of Kincaid-Chauncey, said she has done well in prison and has remained upbeat.
"My aunt can always make lemonade," said Swan, who started working for Kincaid-Chauncey at her North Las Vegas flower shop in 1999 and then bought it in January 2007. "Since she's been there, she's learned how to use the computer, which is amazing. I mean, when she was with the commission, she couldn't even check her own e-mail. She's learned how to crochet. She does beading. She's taken an automotive class, which is funny because she's never even pumped her own gas.
"She's taken all kinds of really good classes that are great for her."
Swan said Kincaid-Chauncey "may be technically a felon," but that is not how the family sees her.
"I don't see her as a felon. I'm just glad it's over, and I hope that in the end the appeal goes through and she is cleared. She has lost rights as a citizen, and that's very sad," she said.
Ellen Leavitt, the 48-year-old daughter of Kincaid-Chauncey's husband, said her stepmother learned guitar, now can make bracelets and other jewelry, and has worked on improving her poetry skills.
During her time in Victorville, Kincaid-Chauncey also worked as a mentor to fellow inmates and conducted Bible studies, her husband said earlier this year.
She received an award for walking 500 miles during her first year of incarceration. Robert Chauncey said his wife also became a greeter at the prison.
"Mary has that gift to mentor other people, and this was recognized there apparently," he said. "They made her a greeter. She meets new, incoming inmates, many of which are very young and some very old. Mary makes sure she explains everything as best she can and tries to make them feel comfortable."
View writer Fred Couzens contributed to this report. Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-384-8710.