State warned about Nevada Transportation officer’s record months before accident

Updated December 8, 2017 - 12:23 pm

An anonymous tipster informed former Nevada Transportation Authority Deputy Commissioner Chris Schneiderand apparently tried to inform Business and Industry Director Bruce Breslow about the drunken driving arrests of an agency supervisor nearly two months before the staff member crashed a state vehicle.

After a Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation found that the supervisor, Robert Reasoner, had an extensive DUI record, Breslow asked the Department of Public Safety to determine how the agency had allowed Reasoner to continue working and driving a government SUV.

But as part of that review, Schneider and other top officials were never interviewed, records obtained by the newspaper show.

“I think the state is keeping this quiet,” said Sherry Stafford, whose parked Honda CRV Reasoner wrecked in a suspected drunken driving crash in January.

The tipster sent Reasoner’s 2016 booking logs to Schneider. Breslow said Monday that his office had received the same information in November but that a secretary who opens his mail threw away the booking records at the direction of a supervisor because it was anonymous.

Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Jackie Muth-Nelson said the review did not include Schneider because investigators were focused on disciplining Reasoner and the agency closed the inquiry when he resigned.

“Had we gone through the entire investigative process, information (about any prior knowledge of Reasoner’s history) could have been revealed, but we were never tasked with reviewing the agency’s internal policies,” she said.

Breslow said investigators didn’t interview top officials because statements from agency staffers showed that authority chief inspector Michael Bradford knew but didn’t do anything about Reasoner’s record.

“This appears to be a complete cover-up by the chief,” he said. “I have no idea why he would not look into this stuff.”

Breslow and Deputy Director Terry Reynolds said they learned about Reasoner’s three drunken driving arrests only after the Carson City crash, in which he fled the scene, leaving open beers and prescription drugs in the vehicle. Records show he was still intoxicated when authorities found him at his sister’s house an hour later.

“I never heard the name Reasoner until January — until this whole thing started,” Breslow said.

The state refused to provide the investigation, including interviews with authority staff, a case summary and personnel records in response to a Review-Journal request.

Breslow said the investigation must remain secret because releasing information might discourage witnesses from coming forward in future investigations.

Reynolds said Schneider did not disclose the anonymous letter before Reasoner’s crash.

“He never told us until after the incident,” Reynolds said.

A day after the crash, Schneider sent Reynolds an email saying Reasoner had fled the scene and refused a drug and alcohol test.

Reynolds said he then repeatedly called Bradford to determine whether Bradford knew about Reasoner’s driving history. But Bradford responded only after Reynolds emailed him on Jan. 24. That was about five hours after the Review-Journal emailed a business department spokeswoman asking questions about Reasoner’s driving history.

Breslow and I “both asked Bradford for it,” Reynolds said. “I thought he was dragging his feet.”

In February, Breslow fired Schneider and Bradford. Schneider did not respond to a message left on his cellphone last week. Bradford could not be reached for comment.

Contact Arthur Kane at Follow @ArthurMKane on Twitter.

Reasoner Booking Logs by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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