weather icon Clear

Ex-assemblyman pleads no contest to theft, lying about residency

Updated November 22, 2022 - 6:10 pm

A former Nevada lawmaker has pleaded no contest to charges of theft and lying about his residency in a filing to run for office.

Former Assemblyman Alexander Assefa was indicted in March on five felony counts of offering false information for a filing or record, three felony counts of making false statements under perjury, four felony theft counts and two gross misdemeanor counts of submitting false residency statements on a filing for public office.

Witnesses who testified to a grand jury this year said Assefa lied about where he lived and misused campaign funds he raised from Las Vegas’ Ethiopian community.

He pleaded no contest on Monday to felony theft of $3,500 or more, and a gross misdemeanor count of making a false statement of residence in a filing to run for the state Legislature, court records show.

Although a judge will have the final say on Assefa’s sentence, prosecutors have indicated that they have no opposition to a sentence of probation, defense attorney Ozzie Fumo said in an emailed statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday. If Assefa successfully completes probation, the felony theft charge would be dismissed.

Assefa, a Democrat, was first elected in 2018 to Assembly District 42 in the Spring Valley area, and was re-elected in 2020. He resigned from the Legislature in January 2021 amid an investigation that led to the charges.

He was accused of saying he lived in Las Vegas’ “Little Ethiopia” community, in an apartment complex near Flamingo Road and Decatur Boulevard, although he actually resided in a house in North Las Vegas, according to grand jury transcripts.

Prosecutors have accused Assefa of lying about his residency in declaration of candidacy forms filed in 2018 and 2020, and in voter registration forms filed in 2017 and 2020.

Witnesses testified that Assefa took thousands of dollars in donations that were not accounted for in campaign finance reports, and that most of the money was collected during fundraising events in the “Little Ethiopia” area. He was accused of transferring campaign money to his personal accounts multiple times while running for office from 2018 through 2020.

Assefa is scheduled to appear for a sentencing hearing on Feb. 23, court records show.

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

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.