Suspects in college thefts may plead guilty


Three men accused of stealing building material and equipment from the College of Southern Nevada to help build their boss's home near Mount Charleston are expected to plead guilty to conspiracy charges today .

Thad Skinner, Matthew Goins and George Casal are each expected to plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit theft, a gross misdemeanor, said Chief Deputy State Attorney General Conrad Hafen. The charge is punishable by a sentence of up to a year in jail.

The plea deal comes just days before the men were to stand trial alongside William "Bob" Gilbert, a former College of Southern Nevada associate vice president.

Gilbert is charged with 13 felony counts, including theft and misconduct of a public officer. The trial is scheduled to begin Monday.

The three men do not have to testify against Gilbert but will admit to conspiring with Gilbert to steal college property, Hafen said.

Lawyers for Casal, Goins and Skinner declined comment Wednesday.

The case centers on college building materials and equipment found at Gilbert's house in lower Kyle Canyon. Authorities claim he and the co-defendants took the construction-grade material and equipment so that Gilbert could build his house, and that the co-defendants worked on the house when they should have been working on campus.

One state investigator described Gilbert's property as "a Home Depot" of building supplies. Investigators told a grand jury that they saw numerous materials identical to those used at CSN, including concrete blocks, expensive door locks and wood.

Gilbert's defense team, including attorneys Brent Bryson and John Momot, have indicated that the no-nonsense former Marine had permission from college officials to store material and repair CSN equipment at his four-acre property because the college lacks a storage and repair facility.

Two former CSN presidents have backed up that assertion.

Bryson said the charges stem from allegations made by disgruntled former college employees who were fired by Gilbert.

The trial is expected to last more than five weeks. Bryson said the defense is likely to call more than 75 witnesses.

"We are confident that after all the facts come out that he (Gilbert) will be cleared," Bryson said.

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, a college spokeswoman has said. Skinner's current status was unclear Wednesday.

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

 

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