Defendant gets served while on trial

Maurice Carroll is standing trial on perjury charges for not serving court papers he claimed to have served.

On Wednesday, irony paid Carroll a visit in the form of another process server who tried to serve him a copy of a civil lawsuit in which he is the defendant.

But Michael Yepko, owner of Vegas Legal Support Services, was not allowed to serve the papers as the day’s criminal trial session was coming to a close.

Instead, Yepko was kicked out of the courtroom.

Yepko said that later Wednesday he found Carroll sitting in the back seat of a car parked outside the Regional Justice Center and dropped the papers in Carroll’s lap. Carroll threw the papers to the curb before the car drove away, Yepko said Thursday. The encounter was just one act in a sideshow that developed around Carroll’s trial this week.

Carroll, who ran an unlicensed process serving company for more than six years, and his lawyer, Craig Mueller, also filed court papers alleging that Las Vegas police tried to intimidate Carroll during the trial by following his car as he left Mueller’s office after Tuesday’s session.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Staudaher, however, said the lead detective in the case, Nate Chio, denied any knowledge of police surveillance Tuesday.

Carroll, who owns On Scene Mediations, is facing 17 counts of perjury, 17 counts of offering false instruments for filing or record and one count of obtaining money under false pretenses. The 42-year-old former Las Vegas police officer is alleged to have submitted false affidavits of service on May 13 and June 13 in civil cases involving one of his clients, debt collector Richland Holdings.

Prosecutors allege Carroll failed to serve documents in 17 Richland Holdings cases but certified in affidavits that he had. The defendants in those cases were hit with default judgments after failing to show up for hearings they knew nothing about.

Yepko said he was hired to serve Carroll with a copy of a class-action lawsuit the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada filed against Carroll, alleging he submitted false affidavits in default cases involving another of his clients, payday loan company Rapid Cash.

Yepko said that after he was told he couldn’t serve the papers in the courtroom he followed Carroll and Mueller out of the courthouse and identified himself as a process server with papers in hand. Carroll then walked away and told a security officer that he would physically harm Yepko if he tried to serve him, Yepko said.

Yepko said he followed Carroll to the parked car, dropped the papers in Carroll’s lap and then filed a police report for the alleged threat.

Mueller declined to comment on the incident.

As the trial continued Thursday, Chio testified about the police investigation of Carroll, and jurors listened to a recorded interview with Carroll in which he blamed his office manager, Vilisia Coleman, for the alleged fraudulent services. Coleman also faces criminal charges. Carroll said on the recording that he was "shocked" by the police investigation.

"I have a great reputation. I don’t know what happened here," he is heard saying on the recording. "That particular group of documents … I was out of town. When I came back I was told that these were done, that they were perfect, the serves were good and I signed off on it."

When Chio asked if Carroll had a lapse of judgement, Carroll responded, "That’s pure … face and nose up my own (expletive). I just wasn’t thinking."

Chio said Carroll told police he had served 30,000 documents at $50 a document, for revenue of about $1.5 million.

On cross-examination, Mueller asked Chio if he recalled that Carroll was drinking beer before the interview with police. Chio said he did not see Carroll with a beer, and that the man seemed lucid and sober.

The trial continues today.

Reporter Francis McCabe contributed to this story. Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal. com or 702-380-8135 or read more courts coverage at lvlegalnews.com.

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