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Telles hires private attorney to replace public defenders

Updated October 24, 2022 - 6:25 pm

Accused murderer Robert Telles hired a private attorney Monday days after a Review-Journal story highlighted taxpayers were footing the bill for two public defenders despite Telles having thousands in property assets.

Telles, a former Clark County elected official, hired local criminal defense attorney Ryan Helmick to defend him against charges he killed Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German in September.

Helmick confirmed he was retained to represent Telles but declined to comment about the case or why Telles switched attorneys.

“I’m not going to get into that stuff,” he said in a brief phone interview. “I’m not going to comment in regards to the case and just let it play out in court.”

Helmick confirmed that he is Telles’ private attorney and not appointed as a contract public defender. Telles remains in jail and was denied bail last week.

Starting in May, German had written a series of stories about employee claims of bullying and retaliation when Telles was the public administrator. German’s stories also exposed evidence of an affair with a co-worker. Telles lost his re-election bid in the June primary after the stories ran.

A story published last week showed Telles was assigned two public defenders when his wife is making more than $10,000 a month and he owns five properties in Arkansas and a house Zillow values at about $600,000 in Las Vegas. Telles’ previous annual income as public administrator was around $120,000. He was removed from the position on Oct. 5.

Former Clark County prosecutor Thomas Moskal, who is now a private defense attorney, said switching attorneys was just a choice by Telles, and the courts still have not done their duty to determine whether Telles is indigent.

“It just goes to show that he could afford counsel,” Moskal said. “He’s not indigent.”

Moskal said the courts are required to do a hearing on whether a defendant is indigent and that didn’t happen in Telles’ case or for other defendants who can afford to hire a private attorney but get a public defender.

He said Helmick started out representing people with traffic tickets and DUIs but has handled felony cases like armed robberies as part of his own law practice, Ryan Helmick & Associates. Court records show he is currently representing people charged with battery, murder and child abuse.

Helmick was arrested in 2013 for bringing a gun into the Regional Justice Center, court records show. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor, paid about $1,500 in fines and fees and relinquished the gun. He said he forgot the weapon was in his briefcase and the case has been resolved.

One of Telles’ former public defenders, Edward Kane, did not return a call seeking comment.

Contact Arthur Kane at akane@reviewjournal.com and follow @ArthurMKane on Twitter. Investigative reporter Briana Erickson contributed to this story.

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