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Who is county official Robert Telles?

Updated September 7, 2022 - 7:03 pm

Robert Telles, a longtime Las Vegas resident with a political and legal background, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of murder in the fatal stabbing of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German.

Metro took the Clark County public administrator into custody at his home Wednesday afternoon. Telles was charged in connection with the recent slaying of German, Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.

Telles placed third in his office’s Democratic primary this summer, following the publication of a Review-Journal investigation into complaints about his actions in the office. Telles was bested by his office’s top supervisor, Rita Reid. His term is slated to end in January.

Personal life

Telles, 45, has said he’s lived in Las Vegas for more than 20 years. He was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, grew up in El Paso, Texas, and then lived in the Denver area before moving to Las Vegas, according to a May 2021 interview with Veterans in Politics.

Telles told the Review-Journal he worked as an HVAC technician at the College of Southern Nevada before graduating from UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law in the spring of 2014.

Prior to his time as public administrator, he operated Accolade Law, a small firm focused on probate and estate planning. He was named Nevada Legal Service’s “Pro Bono Attorney of the Year” in 2014.

Telles told the Review-Journal earlier this year that he has been married for over a decade and has three children.

Political career

Telles, a Democrat, was elected to serve a four-year term as a public administrator in late 2018 and was endorsed by longtime Public Administrator John Cahill, who did not seek re-election.

It appears to be the first political position Telles held in Nevada.

The public administrator is responsible for securing the property of the deceased while family or an executor is located, according to the county. The office also administers estates via the courts, when families cannot.

The position pays roughly $120,000 in annual salary, according to data from the Transparent Nevada website.

In late 2019, Gov. Steve Sisolak appointed Telles to the state’s newly created Board of Indigent Defense Services.

Volunteer work

Telles has been active in a variety of local organizations, according to his LinkedIn page, including the Clark County Bar Association, Las Vegas Rotary Club and Olive Crest foster-care agency.

Officials with those organizations said Wednesday they were stunned to hear police had searched his home.

“I never had a reason to doubt his integrity, his energy or his commitment to public service,” said Rotary Club secretary Stuart Lipoff.

Telles joined the Las Vegas chapter of the service club in 2013, became a board member for a time and was a frequent participant in charitable activities, Lipoff said.

However, the two hadn’t seen each other in person for about two years.

Similarly, Bar Association secretary-treasurer Paul Ray said he knew Telles to be a “friendly guy” during the four years he served as a committee chairman for the organization.

“He’s very active in serving in the community, it doesn’t seem like it goes together (with the killing),” Ray said.

Olive Crest CEO Donald Verleur said Telles passed a criminal background check before he joined the organization’s board of trustees in November 2017.

Telles did not help set policy in the role, but instead helped fundraise, Verleur said. He left the organization in 2020, citing other obligations.

“Olive Crest has been around since 1973, almost 50 years, something like this has never occurred,” Verleur said.

LVRJ investigation

Telles was the subject of Review-Journal investigation published by German earlier this year.

Current and former employees in his office leveled allegations of emotional stress, bullying and favoritism against him. Some claimed he was in an “inappropriate relationship” with a female subordinate staffer.

After the story ran, top county officials hired a former coroner to address the issues in Telles’ office.

Telles publicized his frustrations with German through Twitter on multiple occasions. The official labeled the reporter as an “obsessed” bully who was preparing another ““lying smear piece.”

Telles also published a letter on his election website stating the accusations against him were false.

Home raided

Police served search warrants at Telles’ two-story home in the Peccole Ranch neighborhood of Las Vegas on Wednesday morning.

Records show Telles purchased the four-bedroom property for $215,000 in 2011.

The house is about a 15-minute drive from German’s home in northwest Las Vegas, where neighbors found the reporter’s body outside Saturday.

Officials believe German, 69, was fatally stabbed during an altercation on Friday.

On Tuesday afternoon, police released a photo of a vehicle tied to the slaying: a 2007 to 2014 red or maroon GMC Yukon Denali with chrome handles and a sunroof.

Review-Journal reporters spotted Telles in the driveway of his home later that day, washing a vehicle matching that description. The car was towed from Telles’ house Wednesday afternoon.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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