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District attorney seeks Robert Telles’ removal from office

Updated September 20, 2022 - 7:00 pm

The Clark County district attorney’s office filed a complaint Tuesday asking a judge to remove Public Administrator Robert Telles from office.

Telles, 45, was arrested Sept. 7 in the killing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German.

“We are alleging that he is neglectful in his duties as the public administrator,” District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Tuesday. “We’re seeking an order from the court of his removal from office.”

The district attorney’s office is representing Clark County in the complaint, which was filed Tuesday afternoon.

County spokesman Dan Kulin said Wolfson has “set the process in motion.”

“The next step would be for the court to take action and declare that Robert Telles has neglected to perform the official duties of the office and to remove him,” Kulin said in an emailed statement. “Upon the Court’s order, Clark County would be able to formally appoint his replacement until voters elect a new Public Administrator this November.”

Wolfson said Telles has been unable to act as the public administrator since his arrest.

“We firmly believe he will continue to be unable to perform his duties, and the law says if a public official is unable to perform, that’s neglectfulness, and that’s why we’re seeking his removal,” the district attorney said.

Telles will have a chance to respond to the complaint, and a judge then could call a hearing to rule on his removal, Wolfson said.

The jailed public administrator appeared in court Tuesday morning in front of Justice of the Peace Pro Tem William Jansen. He has been charged with murder with a deadly weapon of a victim who is an older person. He is accused of “lying in wait” to kill German, who was fatally stabbed.

His defense attorney, Travis Shetler, was excused from the case on Tuesday. Jansen appointed public defenders Edward Kane and David Lopez-Negrete to represent Telles going forward.

It was not clear why Shetler was excused from the case. He did not reply to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Attorneys did not argue whether Telles should be granted bail on Tuesday, so Jansen ordered him to continue being held without bail. A preliminary hearing in the case, during which a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for Telles to face the murder charge in District Court, is scheduled for Oct. 26.

Jansen told Telles on Tuesday that the district attorney’s office had filed a criminal complaint charging him ”with the crime of murder, to wit, the unlawful, heinous and senseless murder of RJ reporter Jeff German.”

The complaint was filed on Sept. 12, court records show. Telles, who appeared in court next to his new attorneys, told the judge he understood the charge.

Telles’ public defenders declined to comment following the hearing.

German, 69, was found dead at his home the morning of Sept. 3, about 24 hours after a suspect in his killing was caught on video surveillance approaching his house.

This year, German had reported a series of investigative stories about Telles’ oversight of the public administrator’s office, which included allegations of bullying, favoritism, and an inappropriate relationship between Telles and a staffer.

Police released an image of the suspect’s vehicle on Sept. 6, and Review-Journal reporters spotted a vehicle matching the description at Telles’ home later that night. Telles was arrested the following day, hours after police executed a search warrant at his home.

DNA found under German’s fingernails matched Telles’ DNA, officials have said. Police who searched Telles’ home also found bloody shoes and pieces of a straw hat resembling the one worn by the suspect, according to Telles’ arrest report.

He gave a jailhouse interview to the Review-Journal on Friday but declined to answer direct questions about German’s killing. He is being held at the Clark County Detention Center.

Shortly after Telles’ arrest, Clark County said it was “reviewing its options under the law” regarding Telles’ status as public administrator. Telles, who was born into a political dynasty in El Paso, Texas, is currently a lame duck official who lost the Democratic June primary.

Telles has been barred from Clark County facilities. His staff also was ordered “a couple of months” ago to no longer report to Telles, the county has said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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