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No anniversary would be complete without remembering slain FBI agent

The FBI will officially mark its 100th year as a law enforcement agency on Saturday. But there can be no proper remembrance without a salute to the late Las Vegas Special Agent John Bailey.

On June 25, 1990, Bailey was fatally wounded during an attempted bank robbery. He was serving a subpoena on the bank in connection with an unrelated case when a teller screamed.

Two armed men were in the process of holding up the bank.

Bailey drew his pistol and got the drop on the suspects, but when his attention was diverted, one of them knocked the weapon from Bailey’s hands.

The suspect recovered his own gun and shot Bailey three times.

Carlos Gurry and Jose Echavarria were apprehended, charged and convicted in the robbery and murder that left the community without one of its finest. Echavarria, a downtown blackjack dealer, was caught in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Gurry, a hotel laundry worker, was found just three hours after the slaying.

“That was a very tough time,” former Special Agent Dennis Arnoldy said recently. Arnoldy was the case agent on the Bailey murder investigation. “We never had anything quite like that.”

A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Bailey joined the Marines and served in Vietnam.

He was awarded two Bronze stars.

In 1969, he joined the FBI and became known as a relentless investigator of white-collar criminals. He spent 13 years in Las Vegas and 21 overall in the Bureau. He participated in Operation YOBO, the undercover political corruption sting in the 1980s that resulted in convictions of five Nevada politicians. Bailey also assisted in the investigation of U.S. District Judge Harry Claiborne.

During a recent Bureau ceremony at the John L. Bailey FBI Building at 1787 W. Lake Mead Blvd., Special Agent in Charge Steven Martinez called for a moment of silence in the fallen agent’s honor.

Back in 1990, hundreds of people, many of them members of law enforcement from across the nation, assembled to mourn Bailey’s death. He was the first FBI agent killed in Nevada.

Current and former agents still recall Bailey well as an affable and effective investigator.

QUIET COMMITTEE: Who knows, maybe they’re saving money on press releases.

With no fanfare, the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission held a meeting Thursday at the Grant Sawyer Building.

Back in May, Gov. Jim Gibbons signed an executive order creating the commission, chaired by his friend Bruce James. The question remains whether the commission’s SAGE ideas can do anything to counter Nevada’s flagging economy.

CHILD ADVOCATE: Steve Hiltz may not be well known in the legal community, but he’s certainly played an important role in the lives of many children as an attorney with Clark County Legal Services. Hiltz recently was honored by the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the Center on Children and the Law with a national Child Advocacy Award.

One of Hiltz’s better known clients, says CCLS executive director Barbara Buckley, is Brittney Bergeron, the local teenager who was paralyzed in an attack by drug addicts that resulted in the murder of her little sister.

PORTER-TITUS: The Cook Political Report is now calling the Congressional District 3 race between Republican incumbent Jon Porter and Democratic challenger Dina Titus a toss-up. Like others, the Report questions whether Porter can overcome the changing voter registration differences in the district, where Democrats now outnumber Republicans, 167,130 to 143,356.

LEGISLATIVE FIGHT: In a race that could signal a new era at the Legislature, Republican Senate legend Bill Raggio continues to be dogged by challenger Sharron Angle as the primary election approaches. The audacious Angle appears to be benefiting from increased name recognition related in part to her support for an initiative petition calling for a cap on property taxes.

“She’s good at the door,” one veteran Republican strategist says.

BUTTON COLLECTORS: Consider it an appetizer before the upcoming election feast. The Riviera is playing host to the American Political Items Collectors convention Aug. 4-7 with campaign buttons and badges from throughout the nation’s history. You’ll even be able to bid on some items.

There are some ancient campaign buttons featuring political figures from the past available for perusal on the group’s Web site (apic.us). Roosevelt, Taft, even McCain.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295.

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