Blowing whistle satisfies ‘crybaby’

Fred Frazzetta, the non-union electrician who blew the whistle on illegal remodeling at the Rio hotel, said he feels vindicated by a consultant’s report that exposed dysfunction — and suggests corruption – in the county’s building and fire departments.

Frazzetta is a crybaby, inspectors repeatedly complained to the report’s author, Michael Kessler, while he was gathering data. Parties interviewed also said Frazzetta was merely a disgruntled ex-employee of Harrah’s.

After reading the Kessler report, Frazzetta laughed and said, "I’ve been called a lot worse than crybaby."

The "audit has revealed that in this instance the public trust was clearly violated," Kessler wrote about the Rio remodeling in the introduction to his lengthy report. It pinpoints numerous weaknesses in how the county handles complaints about building safety.

The audit found record-keeping systems that can be manipulated by inspectors, a shortage of documentation for their decisions and lopsided billing for investigation fees and penalties related to code violations, which hit homeowners in the pocket but let commercial interests off the hook.

To solve the problems detailed, the report makes recommendations, some of which mirror changes that county staffers developed and plan to unveil to commissioners at their Tuesday meeting.

Kessler’s report took as its starting point the complaint that Frazzetta filed in late summer 2006, alleging the Rio did significant remodeling of guest rooms in 2005 but never let inspectors verify that the work met safety codes.

It took the county six months to check Frazzetta’s complaint before closing it as unfounded. When the Review-Journal started probing the matter last summer, the county reopened its file and found work done without permits or inspections, some of it defective.

"All indications suggest that no inspections were ever conducted" at the Rio to research Frazzetta’s complaint, the report says. "Kessler is of the opinion that the building inspectors handling these complaints were derelict in their duties," because they failed to inspect, and then falsified records.

Frazzetta had worked on the Rio remodel, and later took a full-time maintenance position at Harrah’s Las Vegas, a sister hotel. He said he started filing complaints in 2006 with the county and Nevada OSHA after seeing what he believed was unsafe asbestos handling and building code violations.

In early summer 2007, Harrah’s fired Frazzetta for leaving his shift with company property, six light bulbs, worth less than $20. Frazzetta said he intended to borrow the bulbs to demonstrate lighting differences to a friend.

"If I had not been persistent, this never would have seen the light of day," the 51-year-old Frazzetta said. "I stood up when everyone else sat down and turned their heads. I will never be mistaken for a good little sheep."

Kessler interviewed numerous players and analyzed thousands of documents in the county’s complaint processing system. He found a pattern of long lags before inspectors responded to complaints, regardless of a complaint’s seriousness. For example, it took the building division six months to log a woman’s e-mail that an apartment building, at 5100 E. Tropicana Ave., was dangerous.

The complaint said "the complainant’s daughter (who had friends living at the address) was raped in the building in an empty, vacant apartment. The complainant further stated that the empty apartments are open and are not boarded to keep people out."

The woman e-mailed in February 2006. The building division closed the case in August, the same month it formally recorded the complaint and claimed to have followed up on it.

"There is a complete lack of accountability and checks and balances" in the building division’s complaint system, Kessler’s report says.

In a sample of 97 cases, he found 24 percent took more than five days to investigate, and 5 percent took more than 30 days. One complaint took 397 days.

"Good customer relations" was the reason one inspector supplied when Kessler asked why he appeared to be giving a contractor special treatment.

The inspector, later identified as James Braddock, frequently handled inspections outside his geographic territory and his technical expertise. He sometimes granted approval for work that an assigned inspector had rejected.

The consultant identified "at least 30 (to) 40 occurrences" of irregularities involving the man, and recommended the county manager refer the matter to law enforcement.

Fire department personnel alleged to Kessler that their managers sometimes bend under "undue influence" from county commissioners, telling inspectors not to write up violations at certain properties.

"This is a very serious and troubling allegation," County Manager Virginia Valentine said Wednesday.

She e-mailed fire department staff, asking any who had proof of such behavior to step forward. "I will grant any employee with supporting documentation whistle-blower protections," the e-mail said.

When the Review-Journal presented her with names of commissioners connected to rumors — but no proof — of twisting arms on behalf of large resorts, Valentine confirmed that Kessler had heard the same names: Rory Reid and Tom Collins.

"Bull" was half the word that Collins used when phoned Wednesday about the rumor; then he quickly ended the call.

Reid called the allegation "baseless" but encouraged the source to provide details. "I never asked a county employee to look the other way on anything, and I wouldn’t."

The building division’s traditional emphasis has been on new construction. But, "as the community’s inventory of buildings ages, we expect the number of complaints (about safety in existing buildings) to increase," Assistant County Manager Phil Rosenquist said.

To give more oversight to high-rise structures, county staff will recommend commissioners approve several new inspection programs.

One possibility is an "amnesty" program for voluntary disclosure of past work that went without permits or inspections, but not all fees will be waived.

The county is looking at revising county and state laws to allow for tougher consequences for doing commercial construction or renovation without permits, Valentine said.

Review-Journal writer Frank Geary contributed to this report. Contact reporter Joan Whitely at or (702) 383-0268.

Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The world's longest racetrack could be coming to Pahrump
Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump might be the first racetrack in the world longer than 16 miles long once the expansion is complete. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Search for missing 3-year-old boy at Sunset Park
Las Vegas police and Red Rock Search and Rescue team search for a missing child at Sunset Park in southeast Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept.2, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speaks at Las Vegas tech conference
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school in Pakistan after advocating for girls' education, spoke at VMworld 2018 at Mandalay Bay. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father recalls the night his 14-year-old son died jumping into moving traffic
From the Clark County Detention Center, Ezequiel Anorve Serrano talks about the night his 14-year-old son, Silas Anorve, died jumping into moving traffic on U.S. 95. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Palace Station unveils new sports book
Palace Station talks about the new sports book Thursday, August 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
One of world's longest racetracks planned in Pahrump by 2020
The racetrack will be 16 miles long by the year 2020 according to Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club owner John Morris. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Robotics takes off at Las Vegas Academy
Las Vegas Academy’s robotics team made it all the way to the world competition last year, the first year the team competed. Zackary Perry describes how they programmed their robot to compete. The team is an example of what Tesla wants to have in every school in the state. (Meghin Delaney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bicyclist suffers major head trauma in hit-and-run
A bicyclist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a Thursday morning hit-and-run crash near the school formerly known as Agassi Prep. Police said the bicyclist was hit by a white SUV, which fled the scene. The injured man suffered multiple injuries including major head trauma. As of 9 a.m., Lake Mead remained closed between Martin Luther King and Revere Street while police investigate.
Las Vegas artist Dave Dave dies at 42
Dave Dave talks about his art and his life in 2016. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dave Dave, whose dad set him on fire in 1983, dies
Dave Dave, a respected Las Vegas artist who was badly scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death in Southern California, died at Sunrise Hospital on July 15. He was 42. When he was 6, Dave's father tried to kill him by setting him on fire. He was given a sleeping pill and his bed at a Buena Park, California, motel was doused with kerosene. “I remembered being in a lot of pain,” Dave told the Review-Journal in 2016. “When stuff happens to you at that young of an age, you tend to block it out, but I remember the pain was excruciating.” Dave, who was born David Rothenberg, became close friends with Michael Jackson, who met him after the attack, which burned more than 90 percent of his body. “I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, and that just turned into a lifelong relationship that never ended,” Dave said. “It was amazing being friends with Michael Jackson. He was an amazing person.” Dave attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and collaborated with various artists around Las Vegas, eventually selling his art to private collectors. Despite his challenges, he continued to live, thrive and create. Dave Dave
Homicide detectives investigate woman's death
Las Vegas police were called to Tahiti Village Resort early Wednesday after calls that someone had been shot. Police found a woman’s body between a parking garage and boiler room on the resort's property. A guest first reported hearing gunfire. There are no witnesses, but police will examine surveillance videos and look for clues. The woman was not identified, but a purse was found near the body. She did not appear to be a guest at the resort.
LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
North Las Vegas unveils new school crosswalk
North Las Vegas councilman Isaac Barron talks about the new school crosswalk in front of CP Squires Elementary School Monday, August 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
LVMPD Briefing on OIS #13
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly held a press conference to discuss details of the 13th officer-involved-shoot for the department in 2018. Video shows the moments before the suspect was shot. The shooting, which has been edited out, occurred as the suspect lunged at an officer outside the apartment. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like