77°F
weather icon Clear

Court papers detail Ricki Barlow’s demands for $20K kickback

A central figure in the FBI investigation of former Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow has detailed in federal court papers how Barlow repeatedly demanded a $20,000 campaign kickback.

Andres Ramirez, a political consultant who worked on Barlow’s 2015 re-election campaign, laid out the demands in a rare pretrial diversion agreement with federal prosecutors that could keep him from being charged with a crime.

The allegations shed new light on the criminal case against Barlow and raise the level of concern about Barlow’s lobbying at City Hall in the wake of his felony conviction for taking campaign kickbacks.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Democratic political strategist Dan Hart. “I think somebody convicted of such a crime should not be allowed to continue to lobby.”

Republican consultant Nathan Taylor, who also lobbies the city, said he is “disgusted and embarrassed” that Barlow has returned to City Hall.

“He showed up at the Planning Commission meeting the other day acting like he’s a rock star, smiling, patting people on the back, shaking people’s hands,” Taylor said. “And I’m thinking, ‘How can you show your face here after violating the public’s trust?’”

Taylor said the City Council should pass an ordinance banning former elected officials convicted in cases like Barlow’s from lobbying the city.

Barlow resigned from office and pleaded guilty last year to misusing more than $66,000 in campaign funds. He registered as a city lobbyist after completing a federal sentence that included one month behind bars, three months in a halfway house and eight months of home detention. He is still under three years of supervised release.

Barlow’s resolve

At his sentencing, Barlow vowed to redeem himself and become a productive member of the community.

That resolve continues.

“I’m very apologetic for the actions from my 2015 campaign,” he told the Review-Journal last week. “I have always been open and honest about my actions, and I stood up publicly on my own and addressed those matters.”

He said he knows nothing about Ramirez’s deal with the government and did not want to comment on it.

But he added, “I’m moving forward to do even greater things in this community, having learned from past experience.”

Barlow said his company, LV Access LLC, is a full-service consulting firm dedicated to helping businesses expand and navigate the bureaucratic process at all levels of government. His company is built on his long list of contacts and 25 years of government experience and the expertise of several business partners, he said. Barlow declined to identify the partners.

City officials continue to support Barlow’s presence at City Hall despite the new revelations from Ramirez .

“Councilman Barlow is certainly within his legal rights to lobby members of the City Council,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said in a statement. “For me, my door is always open to those who need to talk with the city leadership about their issues.”

Councilman Bob Coffin, who acknowledged meeting with Barlow, agreed.

“Barlow is a gentleman,” Coffin said. “He’s never tried to strong-arm me to get a vote. There is a difference in political circles between robbing your own political account and taking a bribe to help someone or hurt someone on a project.”

Barlow has signed in to meet with council members or their representatives three times since he began lobbying in January, City Hall logs show.

Demands for money

Ramirez, a former aide to retired U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, ran the Ramirez Group. At one point, his company had a contract to help the state enroll residents in qualified health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Actpushed by former President Barack Obama.

The company’s state license expired last year, records show.

In his diversion agreement, which was unsealed two weeks ago, Ramirez said Barlow began demanding $20,000 shortly after the consultant deposited a $40,000 check from Barlow’s campaign in May 2015. At the time, Ramirez and his company were active in the Hispanic business and political communities and listed disgraced former U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen as a principal of the company.

Barlow pressured Ramirez for the money for months until Ramirez wrote him a check for $20,000, the agreement states. The check bounced, but Ramirez made smaller payments until he paid off Barlow in December 2015.

Ramirez admitted in the agreement that he lied to FBI agents about the payments, saying they were part of a $20,000 loan to Barlow.

But Ramirez later changed his story and provided information to FBI agents as they built their case against Barlow, knowledgeable sources said.

“Andres has been compliant and cooperative with the government throughout the court process,” his lawyer, Chris Rasmussen, said. “He is moving forward from this matter without a conviction.”

For the next 18 months, Ramirez must follow a dozen conditions under the agreement, including reporting to a pretrial officer and doing 100 hours of community service. He also must continue to reside in Nevada, work regularly and not possess a firearm. In return, the government agreed not to file charges against him.

Barlow’s plea agreement

Barlow acknowledged in his plea agreement that he used his former company, Allegiant Business Development LLC, as a front to collect $49,125 in kickbacks from vendors paid by his campaign. Ramirez and his company were not identified as one of the vendors at the time.

Prosecutors revealed in court papers prior to Barlow’s sentencing in July that Barlow had taken the bait from an undercover FBI informant and “pocketed” $17,000 more in cash payments meant to go to his campaign.

“In short, the defendant’s criminal activity was planned out, sophisticated and ultimately harmful to the public confidence,” prosecutors wrote.

Hart said last week that Barlow had “forfeited the privilege” of participating in the political process as a lobbyist.

“It’s important that we understand that these kinds of corruption issues taint everybody involved in politics and diminish people’s respect and faith in the political system,” he said.

Prosecutors shared that view in court papers last year as they sought up to 18 months in prison for Barlow.

“The danger is that members of the Las Vegas community will hear about or see media reports concerning the defendant’s scheme, shrug their shoulders, and conclude that all politicians are dirty and that the system is rigged to benefit those in power,” prosecutors wrote.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
THE LATEST