Prosecutors say the case against William "Bob" Gilbert is about greed and theft.
His defense attorneys say the former College of Southern Nevada associate vice president did nothing wrong and Gilbert actually saved the college hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Gilbert is on trial for multiple felony charges, including theft and misconduct by a public officer. He is accused of stealing construction material and equipment from the college to help build his home near Mount Charleston. If convicted, Gilbert could face decades in prison.
During opening statements Wednesday, Chief Deputy State Attorney General Conrad Hafen told the jury, "This is a case about greed, about violating the public's trust, and clearly about theft."
Authorities claim Gilbert and three co-defendants took the construction-grade material and equipment from the college so that Gilbert could build his house, and that the co-defendants worked on the house when they should have been working on campus.
Hafen told the jury that state investigators on Gilbert's property found building equipment, including a fork lift and a scissor lift, that was registered to CSN.
Hafen added that during a search of the property, master keys used at CSN campuses also worked for locks on Gilbert's property.
Investigators also found pallets of cinder block that were clearly marked as belonging to the college, Hafen said. Investigators believed the cinder block was being used to construct buildings on Gilbert's property, Hafen said.
Defense attorney John Momot told a jury that Gilbert was authorized by two former CSN presidents to store the institution's building materials and equipment on his five-acre property in lower Kyle Canyon, which he described as a "salvage yard."
"When CSN hired Bob, it was a win-win situation because they needed additional facilities for maintenance and operations, and Bob had these facilities. This was a match that really benefited the (college)," Momot said.
For example, CSN didn't have a welding facility, but Gilbert had one on his property. "And that's where the welding took place for different items used for the college," Momot said.
"The college wanted to get the job done and so did Bob," Momot said.
Momot said the charges stem from allegations made by disgruntled former college employees who once worked for Gilbert.
Gilbert is a no-nonsense former Marine who clashed with "slackers," Momot said.
CSN police and other officials conducted their own investigation and found nothing was missing or stolen from the college, Momot said.
Gilbert routinely brought college construction projects in on time and under budget, saving CSN hundreds of thousands of dollars, Momot said.
Gilbert would sometimes use his own personal materials, such as cinder blocks, on college projects to get the job done in a timely manner, Momot said. The college would purchase materials later to replace Gilbert's stock, Momot said.
The three co-defendants in the case, Thad Skinner, Matthew Goins and George Casal, last week pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit theft, a gross misdemeanor, and were sentenced to one year of probation.
Gilbert, who has maintained his innocence since he was indicted by a grand jury in 2008, last week rejected a plea deal offered by Hafen that would have given him five years' probation and kept him out of prison.
The trial is expected to last several weeks and feature dozens of witness and thousands of pages of documents.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@ reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.