Las Vegas attorney Nancy Quon pleaded not guilty Tuesday in District Court to a felony drug charge in a case her lawyer called an "Alice in Wonderland prosecution."
Quon, 51, who is at the center of a separate federal investigation into fraud and corruption within homeowners associations, faces one count of conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. The charge draws a maximum five years in prison and $10,000 fine.
A Clark County grand jury indicted Quon and her boyfriend, former Las Vegas police officer William Ronald Webb, last week in a scheme to obtain illegal drugs that Quon could take to kill herself.
Quon wouldn’t comment after her plea, but her lawyer, Thomas Pitaro, called the charges "ludicrous," saying she was being accused of unlawfully acquiring drugs that police manufactured.
"It’s sort of an Alice in Wonderland pleading in an Alice in Wonderland prosecution," Pitaro said. "The essence of the charges is that she is accused of buying deadly drugs, those drugs apparently being manufactured, made and provided by the police department, which apparently is in the drug manufacturing business."
Quon was accompanied to the courtroom by Mark Fierro, a former Channel 8, KLAS-TV, reporter who now runs Fierro Communications. Fierro said he was hired to work as a "media strategist" for Quon and her defense team.
During her arraignment, Quon did not look at Webb, who stood in a nearby jury box dressed in jail garb and chained to other inmates. It was the first time the couple had been in public together since November, when undercover detectives arrested Webb in the death scheme.
When District Judge Jackie Glass asked Quon how she was going to plead to the drug charge, she responded softly, "Not guilty, your honor."
Webb, 43, who also pleaded not guilty Tuesday, faces several other charges, including conspiracy to commit murder. He is being held in jail on $400,000 bail.
Glass set an Oct. 17 trial date for the pair.
The grand jury indictment alleges Quon gave cash to Webb and his friend, two-time convicted felon Robert Justice, to buy the club drug gamma hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB, from undercover detectives.
Las Vegas police allege that Quon was trying to arrange her own death with the drug, which she and Webb incorrectly believed would be undetectable.
Justice, 45, also was charged, but he is cooperating with prosecutors and has struck a deal to plead guilty. He is set to appear before Glass on May 3 .
Chief Deputy District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo told Glass on Tuesday that she didn’t "anticipate" a trial would be necessary in Justice’s case.
Justice, who is free on his own recognizance, is expected to be the prosecution’s chief witness in the death scheme case, which also has the benefit of court-approved wiretaps.
Justice has told police that Quon wanted Webb and her family to collect on her life insurance.
Quon, a wealthy construction defects lawyer, has denied trying to kill herself.
A November police report details how the investigation began after Justice approached an undercover detective seeking GHB for Webb.
Detectives contacted the police lab and had 51 grams of the drug manufactured for the undercover investigation.
State law gives police authority to provide drugs to suspects during the course of an official investigation. Police needed to make the GHB, because they didn’t have any available in their evidence vault, sources said.
Webb gave Quon’s money to Justice to purchase the GHB from the detectives, and ultimately the drug wound up in Webb’s possession before he was arrested, police said.
In last week’s indictment, both Webb and Justice were charged with trafficking in 29.2 grams of the 51 grams of GHB police had manufactured.
Police did not feel they had enough evidence to charge the two men with trafficking in all 51 grams, which are back in police possession.
The grand jury also has investigated Quon and Webb on arson and insurance fraud charges stemming from an Oct. 28 fire at her house at 73 Dollar Pointe Ave. in Rhodes Ranch.
The fire, which police believe was part of a botched suicide attempt by Quon, caused about $250,000 in damage.
Two days before the fire, Quon was described as "detached and despondent" in a meeting with local and federal investigators looking into the homeowners associations.
Federal charges have yet to be filed in that case.
The Review-Journal has reported that Justice Department prosecutors from Washington, D.C., have taken over the case and are working out plea deals with as many as 30 targets in an effort to obtain indictments against Quon and other suspected high-level players.
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135.