Sentence challenge continues

CORRECTION ON 02/28/08 -- A headline in Wednesday’s Review-Journal about former Clark County Commissioner Mary Kincaid-Chauncey was incorrect. She is challenging her felony conviction on corruption charges.

Former Clark County Commissioner Mary Kincaid-Chauncey has about a year of her 30-month prison sentence remaining, but that hasn't stopped the 69-year-old from continuing to battle her felony conviction handed down in May 2006.

"Mary has always been an honest person, down to earth," her husband, Bob Chauncey, said Tuesday. "She believes in truth and honesty, and she wants to clear her name if possible."

A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel is scheduled to hear Kincaid-Chauncey's appeal this morning at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Kincaid-Chauncey was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, nine counts of wire fraud and three counts of extortion in connection with accepting cash bribes from former strip club owner Michael Galardi during her term on the commission.

She reported to a federal prison camp in Victorville, Calif., in January 2007 and is scheduled to be released on March 15, 2009. She is eligible to enter a halfway house in the Las Vegas area in December, six months before her sentence officially ends.

Chauncey said Kincaid-Chauncey's legal team believes that "things were illegal during the trial; things that were not fair." He said she should not have been tried with her former colleague, Dario Herrera, because he is not the person with whom the conspiracy occurred. He added that Kincaid-Chauncey was also denied the opportunity to call some witnesses.

"It's in the hands of God, and those are the biggest hands I know," said Chauncey, who makes the 188-mile drive down Interstate 15 to Victorville every weekend and on holidays.

Checking into the prison facility was a difficult experience for his wife, who wept for two days and didn't settle into a comfortable routine for a month. Chauncey said the "greeter" was curt and offered little information about what the next two years of Kincaid-Chauncey's life would entail.

"Mary has that gift to mentor other people, and this was recognized there apparently," Chauncey said. "They made her into 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."

Chauncey said his wife sympathizes with new inmates who have no money, sometimes offering them toiletries.

The former flower shop owner also spends a portion of her day walking on the grounds. She received an award for walking 500 miles during her first year of incarceration, Chauncey said.

"She's healthy," he said. "She's lost a lot of weight."

Kincaid-Chauncey also spends time making crafts with her fellow inmates and conducts Bible studies.

Chauncey said his wife has never been assigned labor-intensive jobs because of her bad back.

"She doesn't feel right with all the other girls doing the work, but she's doing well and her spirits are always up."

Chauncey said he has no plans to attend today's hearings, which will be at 10 a.m. in the Thomas and Mack Moot Court. He said he will simply pray for a positive outcome for his wife.

"Everyone would defend their spouse," the retired law enforcement officer said. "The defense is honest. I spent many years in law enforcement, and I totally disagreed with people who did unsavory things in my department. I had very little respect for that. I can't see anything that Mary did that is worth what's going on now."

Kincaid-Chauncey's attorney, federal public defender Franny Forsman, did not return messages left Tuesday.

This morning's proceedings mark the first time the Appeals Court has held hearings at the Boyd School of Law. The Moot Court, where the case will be heard and which includes a 100-seat auditorium, was dedicated in December.

Appeals proceedings are typically heard in the 9th Circuit's major cities, including San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Seattle. Only occasionally does the panel visit other cities within the district.

Presiding over this morning's hearings will be Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of Pasadena, Calif., and Circuit Judges Marsha Berzon of San Francisco and Jay Bybee of Las Vegas.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at or (702) 384-8710.