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Nevada GOP strategist indicted in legislative extortion scheme

Longtime Republican activist Tony Dane has been indicted by a Clark County grand jury in the alleged extortion of Las Vegas Assemblyman Chris Edwards.

“I’m elated that the justice system is working and that we have crossed this major milestone in attacking corrupt people ruining Nevada politics,” Edwards said Thursday.

The six-page indictment alleges Dane was behind a scheme between December 2014 and January 2015 to pressure Edwards to change his vote for speaker of the Republican-controlled Assembly.

Dane used his robocalling business to illegally wiretap phone conversations during that period between Edwards and four other Republican assemblymen from the Las Vegas area — John Hambrick, Paul Anderson, Derek Armstrong and Stephen Silberkraus — and their constituents, the indictment alleges.

The indictment also accuses Dane of submitting a finance report to the Nevada secretary of state’s office falsely claiming that he had received $245,000 in contributions in 2014 for his CRC Political Action Committee.

His efforts were designed to get Elko Republican Assemblyman John Ellison installed as speaker, but Edwards’ choice, the more moderate Hambrick, was elected in February 2015 after a contentious caucus fight, according to the indictment and police affidavits.

In all, Dane was charged Thursday with 11 felony counts. He faces one count each of extortion, perjury, offering a false instrument for filing or record and uttering a false document, and seven counts of unlawful interception of wire communications.

At the request of prosecutors, Chief District Judge David Barker issued a warrant for Dane’s arrest. Chief Deputy District Attorney J.P. Raman and Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Cooper asked in court for $42,000 bail.

Dane’s lawyer, David Otto, said he is hoping his client will be able to surrender to authorities, either in Virginia, where he is now, or in Las Vegas.

“We intend to fight the basis of this indictment,” Otto said. “The warrant was based on a false affidavit, which at best shows a reckless disregard for the truth. We will defend Mr Dane, who we believe is the victim of a political witch hunt.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in February that the grand jury had taken up the case. All five assemblymen named as victims of the alleged wiretapping were among those who testified before the panel.

Dane, a conservative anti-tax advocate and political strategist, received a target letter from the panel in December seeking business records from his consulting company, Dane & Associates. The case was put together by detectives with the criminal intelligence section of the Metropolitan Police Department.

“I am relieved that the process police went through is now over and we’re able to get this man, who is a scumbag, out of politics,” Armstrong said. “He needs go. It’s unfortunate that many of my constituents were unknowingly being recorded in addition to myself.”

Hambrick said he is concerned that his privacy and the privacy of his constituents were violated.

Last June, police disclosed that they had conducted court-approved wiretaps on the cellphones of Dane and others linked to the scheme, including Assemblyman Brent Jones, R-Las Vegas. Police have said they do not plan to charge any state lawmakers.

The investigation began in December 2014 after Edwards reported the pressure to change his vote for Assembly speaker to police.

Dane is alleged to have laid out the extortion plot in a recorded meeting with Edwards on Jan. 10, 2015.

According to police affidavits, Dane told Edwards he knew someone willing to sign an affidavit stating that Edwards had solicited a $10,000 bribe to vote against Hambrick.

Dane told Edwards the affidavit about the alleged bribe solicitation was to be filed with the secretary of state’s office, but he could “bury it” if Edwards voted the “right way,” a police affidavit alleged.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Find @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

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