Official loses job over plan to leave 90 parks unguarded

A one-time Clark County lobbyist and candidate for state Senate is out of a job.

County officials fired Terry Lamuraglia, 53, as assistant parks director late Tuesday after publicized e-mails indicated he orchestrated a plan to leave almost 90 parks unguarded during Memorial Day weekend.

Don Burnett, the assistant county manager, wouldn’t give specific reasons why Lamuraglia was fired.

But in a statement, Burnett said, "Mr. Lamuraglia was separated … due to issues related to his management of parks and recreation functions for which he was responsible."

Lamuraglia contends he was simply following the orders of Leonard Cash, the parks director.

He argued that Cash concocted the plan to have park police patrols concentrate on the shooting park in the far northwest valley and the Wetlands Park in the east valley, leaving Las Vegas police to address calls at all other parks during a busy holiday weekend.

Cash is using him as a scapegoat, Lamuraglia said. "It’s a big red herring. No one asked whether I was told to do it."

Lamuraglia claims Cash is punishing him in part because he refused to discriminate against a gay manager.

Cash told him to give the manager a bad evaluation to block her from getting a pay raise and create a pretext for firing her, Lamuraglia said.

He said Cash was "uncomfortable" with the manager’s sexual orientation.

Lamuraglia filed a charge of discrimination with the county’s Office of Diversity on Tuesday, the day he was fired.

On Monday, he wrote a letter to County Manager Virginia Valentine complaining about Cash’s actions toward the manager.

By firing him, the county has retaliated against a whistle-blower and broken the law, Lamuraglia said. "I’ll be looking for wrongful termination."

Cash issued a strongly worded rebuttal.

"Mr. Lamuraglia’s allegations are patently false and his timing is suspect," Cash wrote. "I’ve always treated people professionally and fairly. I’ve worked hard at the DA’s Office and since to build my reputation and resent him trying to impugn my character.

"I look forward to clearing my name and getting back to the business of running Parks and Recreation. I will match my reputation against his any day of the week."

Burnett said the county will look into Lamuraglia’s accusations.

Lamuraglia said county brass offered to transfer him to a job in another department where he could still earn his $145,000 annual salary.

But Cash preempted the transfer, Lamuraglia said. He said Cash initially told him he had to resign by 5 p.m. Tuesday or be fired, then fired him anyway.

Burnett insists Lamuraglia was never offered a transfer in which he could retain his current income. Instead, he was offered a demotion, and he rejected it, Burnett wrote.

Lamuraglia worked for years as a county lobbyist. He moved to the parks department in 2002 to avoid a perceived conflict of interest while he made a failed bid for the state Senate.

He drew more notoriety by testifying in the corruption trial in which former County Commissioners Dario Herrera and Mary Kincaid-Chauncey were found guilty of taking bribes from strip club owner Michael Galardi.

Lamuraglia’s close ties with Herrera, who is in federal prison, cast suspicion on him. But Lamuraglia insists he was guilty only of being a friend of the fallen commissioner.

Last week, police union leaders handed out copies of e-mails between Cash and Lamuraglia, saying the messages show Cash’s plans to reduce the number of parks patrolled, beginning on Memorial Day weekend.

However, much of the text consisted of Cash grilling and scolding Lamuraglia for the aborted holiday plan, and Lamuraglia defending himself.

"I am greatly concerned about how this operation was planned and nearly implemented without my knowledge," Cash wrote. "I have never been under the impression that we call Metro to cover our calls. The parks are our responsibility."

Lamuraglia conceded the e-mails might not point clearly to Cash, but said plenty of other e-mails do.

Union leaders Wednesday said they did not know enough details about Lamuraglia’s firing to comment.

Don Ruiz, of the Cops Nevada Division Local 9111, which represents park police, said he hopes that whatever changes the county makes in leadership or policies result in the parks being safer.

"As long as we do what’s good for the public at hand," Ruiz said.

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

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