weather icon Partly Cloudy

Former Justice Court worker sent to prison

A former Las Vegas Justice Court worker who embezzled more than $90,000 from the traffic division was sentenced Wednesday to between 18 and 48 months in prison.

For nearly two years, Stacey Blankenship-Hicks voided the transactions of hundreds of cash payments and pocketed the money, prosecutors said. In each case, she would adjust online court records to show that no payment was due.

Chief Deputy District Attorney J.P. Raman said Blankenship-Hicks, who started working with the courts in 2005, shopped online with most of the money stolen between February 2012 and December 2013.

Court officials have taken steps to prevent employee theft and plan to install cameras over the traffic division early next year.

After discovering the theft, Justice Court administrator LaDeana Gamble requested a county audit, which was completed last month.

Auditors analyzed transactions between January 2013 and May 2014. In part, they found voided payments or reversed criminal charges without explanation; payments voided by employees who did not have the authority to do so; restitution payments that weren’t distributed to victims; and underreported revenue for May 2014, five months after prosecutors said Blankenship-Hicks stole cash.

There’s no indication anyone else stole money from the traffic division, Raman said.

Now all voided transactions must be approved by a supervisor, who documents the reason for the void. That transaction is then reviewed by the finance division.

Gamble said the court is also exploring options that would eliminate cash transactions without additional fees.

“I’m confident that we have procedures in place to minimize or alleviate this issue in the future,” Gamble said.

Blankenship-Hicks pleaded guilty in September to two counts of attempted theft. District Judge Stefany Miley also ordered Blankenship-Hicks to pay $91,502 back to Justice Court.

Blankenship-Hicks was placed on administrative leave in December, and after she was notified of the investigation, she fled to Virginia, where she was tracked down in June.

Contact reporter David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
HOV lane enforcement starts Thursday in Las Vegas

The free ride is over for Las Vegas motorists enjoying the new high occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 95 illegally, as heavy saturation efforts begins Thursday.

Record number of African migrants coming to US-Mexico border

Undaunted by a dangerous journey over thousands of miles, people fleeing economic hardship and human rights abuses in African countries are coming to the U.S.-Mexico border in unprecedented numbers, surprising Border Patrol agents more accustomed to Spanish-speaking migrants.