weather icon Clear

Henderson constable keeps control of funds despite police probe

Updated August 29, 2018 - 6:34 pm

Nearly three months after a Review-Journal investigation led police to seize the government funds of Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell, Clark County officials continue to send money to an account that he controls.

In June, police served search warrants on the constable’s office and Mitchell’s home. They also seized two checking accounts that Mitchell used to collect county money, records show. The search warrant said the accounts might have been used for “theft, embezzlement and unlawful use of public money and misconduct of a public officer.”

Amid an ongoing criminal probe, Mitchell set up a new account that he now uses to pay his deputies, records and interviews show.

Paul Padda, a Las Vegas attorney who previously worked as a federal prosecutor, said the county should exercise more oversight of public money.

“It’s concerning (that) somebody who has been alleged to be at the center of a potential waste of public money is continuing to oversee the spending of that money,” he said.

Mitchell is an elected official and could only be removed from office by a recall election or if convicted of a felony or official malfeasance, state law says.

“We are aware of the allegations and the ongoing investigation,” County spokesman Dan Kulin said in a written statement. “The deputies deserve to be paid for the work that they have done.”

Questionable spending

In March, the Review-Journal found Mitchell wrote himself more than $70,000 in checks, withdrew cash at casinos and video poker bars and traveled to places where his children live — all using county money earmarked to pay deputies.

Defense attorney Craig Mueller said the county is in a difficult position because Mitchell was elected to office.

“I’ve been surprised at the lack of accountability with money at the county, but the problem they have is he is an elected official and unless they remove him from office he has statutory duties,” Mueller said.

Mitchell abandoned his re-election bid in March as the Review-Journal story neared publication. He will leave office at the end of the year.

The constable’s office does not use tax dollars for its operations but collects fees to serve legal papers and eviction notices. The office sends that money to the county, which then returns about $17,000 every two weeks for Mitchell to pay his deputies, records show.

The county failed to audit Mitchell’s bank accounts despite concerns in 2015 that prompted it to take control over funds for Henderson and North Las Vegas constables offices.

The story also sparked an audit that is scheduled for release in October.

Ongoing investigation

It is not clear when police will complete their investigation, and Clark County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Lalli did not respond to a request for an update on the case.

For Mitchell’s new government bank account, the county requires more transparency.

Mitchell previously requested only a total amount that he claimed he needed to pay all deputies. He now must provide the county with forms signed by each deputy describing how many legal notices they had served.

Both Padda and Mueller said the county could tighten control by directly paying Mitchell’s staff.

Kulin said changing the way the county pays deputies would be complicated.

“As the deputies are the constable’s employees, it would take significant documentation from both the constable and his employees to change the current pay structure,” the statement said.

Mitchell and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact Arthur Kane at akane@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0286. Follow @ArthurMKane on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
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.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)