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Las Vegas couple’s stolen-RV saga takes twists, turns

Updated August 23, 2020 - 4:45 pm

You have to be careful driving one of these 27-foot travel trailers. They can easily turn sideways, in reality and metaphorically.

Cruising along at the outset, we’ll report that the community has stepped up for comic Joe Trammel and his dancer wife, Jessica. This is the Las Vegas entertainment couple whose 1999 Nash travel trailer full of belongings was stolen from their residence the night of Aug. 5.

A total of $18,000 in financial support and a replacement RV has been donated to the family, which includes their two young children, 6-year-old Jett and 10-year-old June; and Joe’s 14-year-old son, Jacob, from Joe’s previous relationship.

The support was widespread. A representative from Bigelow Aerospace’s charitable organization issued a $12,000 check to the family on Aug. 13. That figure matched the the total value Joe Trammel had placed on the travel trailer and possessions that were hauled away this month.

Also, an anonymous donor sent a check for $5,000, which yours truly cashed and delivered to the Trammels a week after the incident. Las Vegas couple Don Cleveland and Dr. Leslie Zak donated a 2000 Nash, which they had planned to sell and is worth about $5,000, to replace the still-missing original RV. The family’s GoFundMe page pulled in an additional $1,375.

“There’s been a lot of pain, but it’s been positive in the way my kids have seen that people care,” Joe Trammel said the day he and Jessica counted up the $5,000 donation. “That’s huge for them.”

The family had planned to live in the Nash and trek up the California coast. The Trammels talked buoyantly of performing pop-up shows featuring comedy and dancing. The kids as part of this merry troupe, selling merch and learning about the outdoors. Those plans were undercut when the rig went missing a night before the trip — hashtagged as #HappyTrammely — was to begin on Aug. 6.

Grateful for the community’s support through the odyssey, Jessica Trammel says, “All donations are going toward rebuilding our lives that were stolen from us. We are starting from scratch.”

Dr. Zak, a Las Vegas OB-GYN physician, says, “This was a very small thing in the scheme of our lives, but a very big thing for them.”

The Trammels have an extensive entertainment history in the city. Joe, a freewheeling comic actor, has been a well-known Vegas performer since appearing in “Splash” in the 1990s at Riviera, and had also been in the cast of “V — The Ultimate Variety Show” at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Just before COVID hit, he’d signed on to perform the comedy break in “Crazy Girls” at Planet Hollywood. Jessica has performed in “V,” the “Show in the Sky” at Rio, “Jubilee!” at Bally’s, “Sin City Comedy” and “Nathan Burton’s Comedy Magic” at V Theater.

The Nash taken from the Trammels has not been recovered. The Metropolitan Police Department has reported no breaks in the case. Detectives had reviewed surveillance footage of the scene, telling the Trammels that a red pickup truck and black sports car were recorded making off with the Nash at about 1:50 a.m. Aug. 5.

The Trammels have not reviewed this footage. The couple’s attorney, Nona Lawrence of Nevada Legal Services, says the couple has been unable to obtain the video. The neighborhood homeowners’ association has released it to Metro detectives.

The Trammels are in a battle here with their landlord, too, one Ashish Gaikwad of San Diego. The couple has complained of video cameras in their rented home and garage, and visits from a real estate agent and a witness companion to the house.

The Trammels have also drawn complaints from the homeowner for their home YouTube videos creating a “nuisance” in the home — Joe’s splashy adaptation of “Cast Away” in the master bathtub was especially problematic.

Two men representing the homeowner arrived at the home Thursday, carrying paperwork to release the video surveillance, including provisions the couple would not agree to. Joe Trammel recorded video of the altercation (as did one of the visitors), and posted it on his Facebook page. That standoff seemed ripe for a fistfight, with Joe Trammel asking, “Why are you filming my wife?” before the two men left. The couple then filled out their second police report in a month.

Joe and Jessica Trammel picked up the new Nash last Sunday.

This travel-trailer saga came unhitched in the days after the Nash was stolen. Jennifer Rohlman, Trammel’s ex-fiancee and Jacob’s mother, checked in with court documentation that her son’s father owes quite a sum in back child support payments. The figure, including fees and penalties, is near $80,000 (or, 16 used Nashes). To put that figure in context, that monthly payment terms date to 2012, when Joe was a highlighted act in “V,” a choice role on the Strip. It was never adjusted when he left the show.

Joe Trammel’s career, and life, unraveled in the seven years after he left “V.” He and Jessica have told Rohlman he is unable to pay child support under the original agreement. Trammel suffered a head injury when the family moved away from Las Vegas (after slipping on ice while working at a car dealership in Maine). He has since entered into recovery for alcoholism (he reports he is three years’ sober).

The Trammels don’t dispute the court’s accounting. They have paid outside the written agreement from 2012; the two sides do not agree on how much has been paid. A hearing on the matter, to be conducted over the phone, is set for Sept. 1.

Rohlman is herself a former Vegas entertainer of high achievement, who was also in “Splash,” danced with Siegfried & Roy dating to their days at the Frontier, was in the original cast of “Fantasy” when it was “Midnight Fantasy,” “Folies Bergere,” “Showgirls of Magic” and “Fashionistas.”

The tension between the Trammels and Rohlman and her boyfriend, Vegas plumbing professional Tod Sorrell, is evident in contentious text messages up until the week the Nash was stolen. In an email to police investigators, the Trammels have accused the couple of being involved in the theft.

On Wednesday, just before sunset, four Metro Police officers arrived at Rohlman’s Las Vegas house (which happens to be in the same old Las Vegas neighborhood as Tony Spilotro’s former residence). They searched the home and questioned the former showgirl about the incident. Nobody has been charged in the case.

Rohlman fiercely denies any involvement.

“Whatever is going on with the RV is just the craziest story,” Rohlman said. “I would never do anything criminal. My son’s welfare is at stake.”

Asked for comment, Sorrell said in a text, “Absolutely unbelievable! I have much better things to do than steal a trailer.” He and Rohlman both say they want to take a look at the video themselves.

The whole circuitous series of events feels like a reality show — and over the years, Joe Trammel has come up with a few reality-show ideas. Maybe it’ll happen, someday, when the kids are grown up and free of this saga.

“It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” Jessica Trammel said. “This was supposed to be a happy story.”

Note: This story has been updated to clarify the chain of possession of the surveillance video of the Aug. 5 incident.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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