A District Court grand jury indicted former Clark County Commissioner Lynette Boggs on four felony charges Wednesday.
Boggs is charged with two counts each of perjury and filing of false documents. If convicted, she could get probation or be sentenced to one to four years in prison for each perjury charge and one to five years for each charge of filing a false document. She also could be fined up to $5,000 for each perjury conviction and up to $10,000 for each conviction of false filing.
Her lawyer, Bill Terry, said Boggs will plead not guilty to the charges at her arraignment Sept. 5.
Prosecutor Eric Jorgenson asked Chief District Judge Kathy Hardcastle to require Boggs to post $25,000 bail.
Terry argued that bail was unnecessary because Boggs has substantial ties to the community and is not a flight risk.
“We will make all court appearances, your honor, as we have done in the Justice Court,” Terry said.
Hardcastle ruled that Boggs, who did not attend the proceeding, should remain free on her own recognizance.
Terry declined to comment about the case.
Jorgenson said that by law he could not discuss the grand jury hearing that led to the indictment until after the transcripts of the proceeding are released, which should be in about two weeks. Grand jury proceedings are, by law, secret until the transcripts are released.
Boggs testified before the grand jury Tuesday, which was an unusual move for a defendant. Defendants rarely testify in their own grand jury proceedings in part because their testimony can be used against them.
That may yet happen to Boggs.
District Attorney David Roger said Wednesday that prosecutors will “review the transcript of the grand jury proceedings to determine whether additional charges are appropriate, whether (additional) perjury charges are appropriate.”
The charges already filed against Boggs stem from a pair of campaign documents she filed last year in her failed bid to keep her commission seat for District F, which spans the southwest part of the county. According to the criminal complaint, Boggs lied on her declaration of candidacy when she claimed that she lived within the boundaries of her district.
Authorities allege she lived in a much larger house just outside that district, and they have many hours of video, provided by the Culinary union and the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, that indicate Boggs was living at that house.
Boggs, a Republican, had gotten on the wrong side of the Culinary union when she was a board member for Station Casinos, and she incurred the wrath of the police union when she challenged a labor contract that gave officers significant raises.
John Hambrick, chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, said he believed the genesis of the investigation was politically motivated.
He said he had the utmost respect for Roger but hoped the district attorney would apply the same type of scrutiny to all the other politicians rumored to live outside their districts.
“I trust the system, but you can indict a ham sandwich,” Hambrick said, adding that “nothing has been proven yet.”
The charges against Boggs also allege she falsely listed $1,230.52 in payments to Kelly Mcleod for campaign expenses related to special events. Boggs has said she paid Mcleod for baby-sitting her children so that Boggs could attend campaign events.
Boggs’ political career began in 1998 with a failed bid for the state Assembly. The next year, the former Miss Oregon and assistant Las Vegas city manager was appointed to the Las Vegas City Council to fill a vacant seat.
Boggs mounted a failed challenge to U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley in 2002 and two years later was appointed to the county commission. Voters chose to keep her in the seat later that year, and she seemed positioned to win again before the allegations surfaced heading into last year’s election.
In May, she announced the founding of FaithWorks, a nonprofit religious foundation, and subsequently went on a missionary trip to Africa.
Boggs is the fifth former Clark County commissioner indicted since 2003, but she is the first one being prosecuted in state court.
Four former commissioners, the majority of whom were off the board by the time Boggs was appointed in 2004, have been sentenced in federal court on public corruption charges.
Commission Chairman Rory Reid declined to comment on Boggs’ indictment. But he said the commission has worked to make more transparent and inclusive the decision making process to inspire public confidence.
“At least if they (the public) have an opportunity to provide input, I think it will help ease the cynicism caused by all this,” Reid said. “But at the end of the day, I realize it will take time and we have to be willing to work hard.”
Boggs is not the first candidate to have gotten into trouble over residency issues.
State, county and local candidates are required to live in their districts for 30 days before the filing deadline. But the law doesn’t specify exactly what defines residency.
In a 2002 case filed against Clark County Commission candidate Michael Williams, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that a candidate’s “home is where your cat lives” in keeping Williams off the ballot in his bid to unseat Myrna Williams. The court found that Michael Williams, a Democrat, had a house in Henderson where his fiancée and his cat lived, while he lived in an apartment.
Judges have removed other candidates from ballots in recent years, including Assembly candidate David Parks, a Democrat who ran against an incumbent with the same name, and Republican university regent candidate Mark DeStefano, who claimed he lived in a small cabin on Mount Charleston, when a court found he actually lived in a second property in another district.
The district attorney’s office has prosecuted at least one other candidate before Boggs. In 1998, Democratic Assembly candidate Judi Lynn pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for lying about where she lived.
In order to file charges against a candidate, Roger said, a complaint has to be made to Las Vegas police, who must investigate the matter and send the case to the district attorney’s office for review.
“This is one of the first cases that was actually investigated by police and sent over to us,” Roger said.
The law is a “little murky” when it comes to residency, he said.
“They’re difficult cases to prosecute in general,” Roger said. “But the public is very in tune with the issue of public corruption, and they’re not afraid to go to law enforcement to blow the whistle, and if police put together a compelling case for us to prosecute, we’ll file charges.”