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Judge calls Las Vegas lawyer’s prison-hit messages ‘bizarre’

Updated January 10, 2019 - 7:42 pm

A judge on Thursday issued a stern lecture to Las Vegas attorney Alexis Plunkett, who sent text messages that claimed she put prison hits out on her former boyfriend, but refused to send her to jail.

While awaiting a Nevada Supreme Court decision on separate criminal charges against her, Plunkett sent an obscenity-laced group message to friends from law school, including a federal prosecutor, who ultimately reported the messages to a Metropolitan Police Department detective.

Plunkett told her friends she had arranged to have 28-year-old Andrew Arevalo, a reputed gang member with whom she was romantically involved, killed.

“Who in their right mind would send these texts?” the judge asked at a hearing requested by prosecutors seeking to have Plunkett’s bail revoked over the texts. That request was denied.

One of Plunkett’s lawyers, Adam Solinger, argued that the messages were not evidence of a serious threat.

“I’ve never claimed that Ms. Plunkett, at the time she sent that text message, was in her right mind,” Solinger said. “People have reactions to things. They get upset. Bad things happen, and people react poorly.”

The judge said he based his decision, in part, on the fact that Plunkett should have known that such a threat, delivered in an exchange with a group of lawyers, would be reported to authorities.

“Ms. Plunkett, this is bizarre,” District Judge Michael Villani said. “Clearly there was poor judgment on your part. Immature, unprofessional. And the thing that bothers me is who you sent it to. That’s the only thing that bodes in your favor here.”

Prosecutor Jay Raman argued that Plunkett was “a clear danger to the community,” pointing to courtroom encounters she had with defendants, including delivering a handwritten note to a jailed client, who then ripped up the piece of paper.

“That note could have been propagating other crimes,” Raman said. “That note could have been destroying evidence.”

Arevalo, who in 2014 was shot and wounded by a High Desert State Prison guard, is awaiting trial on felony drug and weapons charges. Plunkett represented Arevalo in his lawsuit against the Nevada Department of Corrections in connection with the shooting that left another man dead.

Last month, the Nevada Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of a 14-count indictment against Plunkett, whom prosecutors said improperly provided a cellphone to inmates at the Clark County Detention Center. Plunkett has said she was in a relationship with Arevalo, who also was indicted, and that she used the cellphone to make calls regarding bail, which she believed she was authorized to do.

In the group message, Plunkett wrote that she “placed hits in every Nevada prison on Andrew with every homie and lifer I know.”

When another person in the group replied that Plunkett should not speak loosely about committing a felony, Plunkett responded: “I’m not joking.”

Metro Detective Aaron Stanton testified Plunkett told him she was “venting” through the text messages.

The detective also told the judge that he showed the text messages to Arevalo, who is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center. The detective said he noticed goosebumps on the left arm of Arevalo, who was “very stoic.”

“He didn’t really have much to say,” Stanton said. “I felt it was my duty to inform him. I felt that at the very least he should know about this.”

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

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