Ruling expected next week on evidence in CSN official's trial


A district judge is expected to rule next week whether to suppress key evidence in the state attorney general's criminal case against a former College of Southern Nevada associate vice president.

William "Bob" Gilbert and three co-defendants, Thad Skinner, Matthew Goins and George Casal, are charged with multiple felony counts, including theft, misconduct of a public officer and obtaining money under false pretenses.

Gilbert is accused of stealing building material and equipment from the college to help build his home east of Mount Charleston. The other men are accused of helping him.

Defense attorneys claim that during an illegal search state, investigators took more than 200 photographs of the equipment and material in question that was on Gilbert's property.

Prosecutors contend the photographs are admissible because the equipment and material were in plain view of the investigators who went to Gilbert's property to speak with him.

District Judge Donald Mosley is expected to make a ruling next week on whether to suppress the evidence.

Since the photographs are key to the prosecution's case and were shown to numerous witnesses, the case would essentially be dismissed if Mosley suppresses them, said Goins' attorney Joseph Houston II.

State investigators first went in March 2007 to speak with Gilbert about allegations he was using the college's equipment and material to build his home on his five acres.

During a hearing Friday, former state investigator Anthony Ruggiero said building equipment and material was strewn across the property. "It looked like a Home Depot," Ruggiero said.

The investigators left after meandering around the property and being unable to find Gilbert.

About a week later, Ruggiero and another investigator returned to the property, but brought a camera and snapped the photos in question.

Ruggiero testified that they returned to the property with the purpose of speaking with Gilbert, but took the camera to document the equipment and material.

Ruggiero said he was not conducting a search of the property because his intentions were to speak with Gilbert.

Gilbert's defense attorney, John Momot, suggested while questioning Ruggiero that the investigators returned to the property with the purpose of photographing the materials and not to speak with Gilbert. Momot suggested that made it an illegal search.

Ruggiero admitted that they did not call the college to see if Gilbert was there before going to his property on a weekday.

Defense attorneys also said the investigators were trespassing on the property, so the photos were obtained illegally.

Conrad Hafen, chief deputy attorney general, said the investigators did not violate the law because they arrived at the property with the intention of speaking to Gilbert. And because the materials were out in plain view of the investigators, there was no expectation of privacy, Hafen said.

Of the four defendants, Gilbert's appointment to the college ended in June 2009; Casal has returned to work with the college; Goins resigned in February; and Skinner's appointment was set to end June 30. It was unclear late Friday if his appointment was renewed or not.

The trial is scheduled for Aug. 9.

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

 

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