Las Vegas police officer, 3 others indicted in elder abuse case

Updated February 14, 2018 - 7:11 pm

A Las Vegas police lieutenant, a guardian and two other people were indicted Wednesday on various theft and elderly-exploitation charges after a joint investigation by the state attorney general and Clark County district attorney.

James Melton, with the Metropolitan Police Department since March 1994, faces 14 felony counts. They include charges of theft, grand larceny auto, perjury and exploitation of an older person.

Melton’s lawyer, Josh Tomsheck, said $5,000 cash bail was put up within hours of the indictment.

“We are disappointed the state made the decision to charge Mr. Melton,” Tomsheck said. “I say that based on the overwhelming amount of evidence which exists showing Mr. Melton violated no law and committed no crime. Mr. Melton, however, trusts the court system and knows we will be able to utilize the court process to bring to light the full version of facts which will exonerate him and restore the good name he’s spent a lifetime earning.”

Melton, who most recently worked in the department’s homeland security division, received more than $300,000 in pay and benefits in 2016, according to police and the latest records from TransparentNevada.com. He has been on paid suspension since July 2017, when authorities launched the investigation, and is now expected to be relieved of duty without pay, according to a statement from the department.

Guardian April Parks, already jailed in a separate case, faces a new exploitation charge, along with five counts of offering a false instrument for filing or record and one count of perjury. Prosecutors said two others, Noel Palmer Simpson and Mark Simmons, also were indicted.

Prosecutors allege that Melton worked with Parks, the owner of A Private Professional Guardian LLC; her office manager, Simmons; and attorney Simpson to exploit an elderly couple.

Between December 2010 and May 2017, prosecutors allege, Melton hired Parks, Simmons and Simpson to act as the guardian for Beverly Flaherty and obtain control of more than $700,000 in Beverly and Jerome Flaherty’s assets.

Melton, Parks, and Simmons are accused of using Simpson’s services to file false and misleading legal papers with the court in order to obtain guardianship and name Melton as the successor trustee of Beverly Flaherty’s family trust.

“Protecting Nevada’s families and vulnerable populations is the overarching mission of this office, and one that I take very seriously,” Attorney General Adam Laxalt said in a statement. “Just a few short months after obtaining the most significant elder exploitation indictment in Nevada’s history, my office has once again teamed up with our local law enforcement partners to ensure justice is served against those seeking to exploit our elderly. These targeted crimes strike at the very heart of our tight-knit communities, and will be pursued aggressively by my office.”

Less than a year ago, a Clark County grand jury indicted Parks on more than 200 felony counts that include racketeering, theft, exploitation and perjury.

Law enforcement at the time described Parks as the central target of their investigation and said she exploited at least 150 of vulnerable Nevadans and “systemically bilked them out of their life savings.”

She is still awaiting trial on those charges.

Parks and Simmons remain in custody at the Clark County Detention Center on hundreds of previous charges. Melton voluntarily turned himself in to authorities Wednesday before posting bail. Simpson was expected to surrender voluntarily, according to the attorney general’s office.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find @randompoker on Twitter.

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