An Ely City Councilman whose wife is chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Reno has been implicated in the disappearance of money from a bank where he worked, White Pine County Sheriff Dan Watts said.
Stephen Marich has not been charged with a crime, but on Wednesday Watts identified the three-term councilman as the only "person of interest" after thousands of dollars went missing from the First National Bank of Ely.
"He hasn’t been named a suspect, but he’s the one the investigation started with," Watts said.
The matter is now in the hands of the FBI because the bank is federally insured and because Marich is married to former White Pine County District Attorney now U.S. Attorney Sudabeh Fahami, the sheriff said.
Watts said Fahami has not been implicated in any way.
Marich answered a call to his cell phone Wednesday afternoon but quickly hung up. A subsequent message left on his voice mail was not returned.
Messages left for Fahami also were not immediately returned.
Las Vegas FBI spokesman Joseph Dickey said that per Department of Justice policy he could "neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation."
Watts said he didn’t know how much money might be unaccounted for, but one of his detectives told him the amount could exceed $30,000.
Bank Manager John Gianoli said he could not comment because of the "ongoing investigation."
In an interview last week, Gianoli told Ely Times Editor Kent Harper that Marich abruptly left his job at the bank and an internal review was under way. The Ely Times is owned by Stephens Media, parent company of the Review-Journal.
Marich was elected to a third term on the Ely City Council in June.
City Clerk Jim Allworth said Marich missed Tuesday’s City Council meeting but was there for the Dec. 10 meeting.
Watts said there was another good reason to turn the investigation over to the FBI: small-town politics.
"There’s just too many ties with us," he said.
Ely, 250 miles north of Las Vegas, is home to about 4,300 people.
Before Watts became sheriff, he served on the City Council alongside Marich for about three years.
"I’ve known him for years," Watts said. "He’s a really great guy."
Contact reporter Henry Brean at email@example.com or 702-383-0350.