Updated August 5, 2022 - 12:33 pm
The FBI is investigating a Nye County sheriff’s captain for misconduct after Review-Journal stories raised questions about his ethics and abuse of power as a deputy, according to sources familiar with the case.
FBI agents served a warrant Wednesday on the sheriff’s office, but the sheriff’s spokesman, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment on what was seized.
In the preceding months, four people who have either been interviewed or talked to FBI agents say investigators asked questions focusing on Capt. David Boruchowitz’s actions, including his conduct in the former Valley Electric Association CEO Angela Evans case and contracts at the jail he oversees.
Boruchowitz, one of the department’s top officials who often has a higher profile with the public than Sheriff Sharon Wehrly, posted a video Thursday confirming the FBI raid. But in an email exchange, he denied he was the focus of the investigation.
“I had zero interaction with the FBI nor any involvement with the warrant, nor anything to do with anything with it,” he wrote. “I will continue to do my job despite the lies, deceit, and attempts to discredit me. Criminals will always try to discredit those that they believe will hold them accountable. No warrants are necessary, the FBI can ask for whatever they want from the agency or myself and we will happily turn it over.”
In the past, Boruchowitz has been accused of a number of questionable actions that prompted state and federal investigations, including showing homemade porn around the sheriff’s office and having inappropriate relationships with jail inmates while running the facility. His history also includes him filing multiple lawsuits and liability claims.
The sources all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they said they had been asked by the FBI to refrain from discussing their interactions with the agency.
A Review-Journal story in February showed Boruchowitz has faced wide-ranging accusations that he has abused his power for years and helped form an activist group to remove VEA leadership at the same time he was overseeing Evans’ arrest.
Boruchowitz arrested Evans in 2019, claiming she used her position to make improvements on her personal property, but the Review-Journal found she didn’t own the residence when the work was completed. The case was so flawed that prosecutors dropped the charges, and she is suing Boruchowitz and the county. A federal judge is currently deciding whether to grant a defense motion to dismiss the case.
Boruchowitz admitted in depositions for Evans’ civil case that he ran a group working to unseat the VEA’s board and considered running for a board seat — that pays about $20,000 a year — while leading the Evans’ investigation.
One source said the initial investigation into Boruchowitz seems to have expanded to some other Nye elected officials but said the FBI has not told him who or why.
“It opened a Pandora’s box of serious issues out here,” he said.
Wehrly did not respond to requests for an interview, and the video Boruchowitz posted said the agency’s staff will not respond to any further questions on the matter.
Special Agent Christina Burt, who sources say is conducting interviews in Nye County, did not return a call, and FBI spokeswoman Sandra Breault wrote that “media inquiries are being directed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office” after the FBI raid.
“We do not confirm or deny investigations,” wrote U.S. attorney spokeswoman Trisha Young in response to a phone call left at her office. She did not respond to a request for the search warrants, and Boruchowitz in his video said they were sealed.
Attorney declines comment
Evans’ attorney Andre Lagomarsino also declined to comment “one way or another” about whether he is talking to the FBI about the Evans case.
The Evans article revealed Wehrly, Boruchowitz’s boss, testified in depositions that she didn’t see a problem with Boruchowitz’s actions in the case. Both have maintained the criminal case against Evans was solid and blamed the district attorney’s office for dropping charges.
Wehrly testified that the FBI investigated the relationship allegations in 2015 but turned the case over to her.
“I can tell you that there was an FBI investigation into that, and at the conclusion of the FBI investigation, there was no crime and that discipline was what they would recommend,” she testified in an Evans’ case deposition.
Boruchowitz testified in the same case that he received a 10-hour suspension for having an “inappropriate relationship” with a probationer.
Wehrly, who Boruchowitz as a former police union president endorsed during her first run, has repeatedly promoted him since taking office in 2015. She faces a tough race for re-election in November after a controversial two terms.
FBI drops the ball
Two sources said the FBI was concerned that the Review-Journal story made it look like the agency had “dropped the ball” in the 2015 probe and officials wanted to make sure this time they conducted a thorough investigation of allegations surrounding Boruchowitz and other issues in Nye County.
Another source said the FBI started investigating in late 2021 or early 2022 before the news stories but appears to have stepped up their interviews after the February story.
The sheriff’s department is also facing a state investigation for deputies’ actions related to a horrific fatal crash in March 2021 that killed three members of an Idaho family.
Nye District Attorney Chris Arabia last month asked the state Department of Public Safety to investigate the failure of Nye Sheriff’s deputies to stop a driver, Tyler Kennedy, who they believed was intoxicated an hour before he killed three people.
The Review-Journal’s stories revealed new body cam evidence that contradicted statements Boruchowitz made, claiming the deputies believed Kennedy was not impaired when they let him drive away. Arabia wants to determine whether the deputies who let Kennedy drive away could face criminal charges and whether the sheriff’s office failed to turn over any evidence in the case to cover up a mistake.
None of the sources said they received any information about how long the FBI investigation would take.
Contact Arthur Kane at email@example.com and follow @ArthurMKane on Twitter. Kane is a member of the Review-Journal’s investigative team, focusing on reporting that holds leaders and agencies accountable and exposes wrongdoing.