Seven using craigslist face sex charges

Henderson police have been arresting men seeking to meet underage boys and girls on the Web site craigslist, nabbing six locals and one tourist since the effort began in February.

The operation, which relies on a little-used state law, is the first of its kind for the department.

One detective has been assigned to respond to advertisements by people who often post in the site’s “casual encounters” section, a meeting place for those looking for casual sex.

Police say one of the most blatant ads was posted in January by 47-year-old Thomas Doucette, a Las Vegas man. According to his arrest report, he offered to perform sexual acts on “all bi str8 boys and guys” in a bathroom stall at a Lowe’s store.

Assuming the identity of a 15-year-old boy, Detective Wayne Nichols responded that he saw the ad while looking for lawn mowers with his dad at the store.

Doucette then asked Nichols his age and weight, to which Nichols replied that he was 15.

From there, Doucette balked, but then began sending graphic pictures and began asking for some in return.

Investigators don’t comply with such requests, but in Doucette’s case Nichols continued the correspondence and an eventual meeting place was arranged.

Doucette showed up at the meeting place and, according to his arrest report, upon his arrest he told police he was HIV positive.

“They think they won’t get caught,” Nichols said. “They’ve made up their mind that they want sexual conduct with a child.”

Investigators and prosecutors are pursuing the suspects under the state’s law prohibiting using technology to lure children or persons with mental illness, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Under the law, a suspect merely has to have intent to have sexual contact with somebody he believes is under 16.

Clark County District Attorney David Roger and defense attorney Robert Draskovich said the law is far more often prosecuted on the federal level.

Draskovich, who handles many cases involving people facing child sex crimes, said he has never seen the law used as the primary charge against someone in Clark County. Usually, someone is facing more serious charges in which there are actual victims, not just theoretical ones, Draskovich said.

He is handling the cases of three of the defendants arrested by Henderson police.

None of the defendants have criminal histories relating to sexual conduct with minors, according to police.

Messages left with the suspects were not returned.

Among those arrested are the former director of entertainment at Planet Hollywood, 34-year-old Craig Thomas Tiffee, and a local attorney, 50-year-old Richard Lee Crane.

Crane did not respond to a message left at his home phone seeking comment.

Tiffee disputes that there was any sexual conduct involved, according to Draskovich, who is representing him.

According to Tiffee’s arrest report, he actively pursued Nichols’ character over the course of two weeks, urging Nichols on multiple occasions to “sneak out” of his grandmother’s house for a “quickie.”

After being arrested at an arranged meeting place, Tiffee told police he was “unsure of the person’s age of whom he was meeting,” the report states.

In Crane’s arrest report, he believed he was speaking to a 15-year-old girl, asking Nichols when she would turn 16. He asked questions about the girl’s sexual history and asked on several occasions to “hang out.”

After he was arrested at the meeting place, Crane denied any involvement in what police allege he did.

Henderson police believe they are doing justice by prosecuting people who are looking to have sex with minors. The cases have yet to go to trial.

“When these people place these ads, their minds are already made up,” Nichols said. “We don’t push the meeting.”

Draskovich has yet to see the online conversations between his clients and the police, so he doesn’t know yet what legal issues might arise.

“You have a police officer posing as a 15-year-old homosexual, which raises some red flags,” he said.

Nichols said he responds to “suspicious” ads on craigslist and other sites, and most people quickly state they’re not interested once they find out his character is a minor. He saves the correspondence and ends the conversation there.

But some change their minds.

John Douglas Dignan, whom Draskovich is also representing, posted an ad looking for a teenage female. When Nichols responded, he stated he wasn’t interested in anyone under 18, his arrest report states.

Ten days later he asked, “r u a law enforcement person trying to entrap people? if so, forget it. if not, ok send me a pic,” the report states.

When Dignan was arrested more than two weeks later, he had rented a hotel room on Boulder Highway and purchased two six packs of wine coolers and a box of condoms, the report states.

None of the arrests, which involve multiple officers, have turned violent so far. The common reaction from people has been, “What am I going to tell my work? What am I going to tell my family?” Nichols said.

One would think that people looking for sex would have learned a lesson from TV shows such as Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator,” which uses volunteers in chat rooms to locate potential predators.

But Capt. Robert Wamsley compared the situation to a shark’s mouth: When sharks lose teeth, a new row of teeth moves forward. People still using the Internet for inappropriate sexual contact are that new row, he said.

“Offenders like this start in baby steps, and this is one of their stepping stones.”

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at or 702-383-0440.

News Videos
Henderson fails to investigate the drug overdose death of one of its officers
Henderson Police Department's internal affairs did not investigate the 2014 drug overdose death of an officer. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Syphilis Awareness Day
Dr. Joe Iser, District Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District, discusses the effects and issues with syphilis in the Las Vegas community on April 16, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas diocese IDs 33 ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse
The Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas released a list on Friday of 33 “credibly accused” of sexual abuse who at some point served in the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CCSD Arbor View meeting
The Clark County School Board hears from the public about racial tensions at Arbor View High School on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Amelia Park-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Parents of autistic student battle Clark County School District
Joshua and Britten Wahrer, parents of a special education student, are battling the Clark County School District for the right to equip their son with a monitoring device. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Metro homeless outreach a shift in strategy
Lt. Joe Sobrio discusses the new homeless outreach team for Metro. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prayer for Opportunity Scholarships
Las Vegas students and adults hold a prayer meeting about the Opportunity Scholarship program on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Solar scams on the rise in Nevada
As Nevada’s solar industry has made a resurgence, solar scammers have followed suit.
Clark County schools and the late bus issue
Year after year, late or no-show buses in the Clark County School District draw the ire of parents and students alike. One year the problem even prompted a parent to crack a school bus window in frustration over a late drop-off. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 southbound congested near Primm Sunday afternoon
Drivers heading toward California on Interstate 15 should expect heavy traffic and a 13-mile backup Sunday afternoon.
Learning lifesaving skills in advance of fire season
Students and firefighters attend a training session at Fire Station 80 in Blue Diamond, Saturday, March 30, 2019. The training session helps volunteer firefighters obtain necessary annual certification to work wild fires.
Car restoration behind prison walls
Inmates share their experiences working for the Southern Desert Correctional Center auto body shop in Indian Springs while learning valuable skills.
Parent remembers Las Vegas boy killed by car
People visit a memorial at the intersection of South Fort Apache Road and West Arby Avenue at at Faiss Park Wednesday, March 27, 2019, where Jonathan Smith, 12, of Las Vegas, died after he was struck while crossing Fort Apache Monday. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Couple left with surprise medical bills after visit to the hospital
Michael Pistiner took his wife, Marta Menendez-Pistiner, to the ER in January after she fainted twice and appeared to be having a seizure. Despite paying $856 monthly for health insurance, the two, self-employed musicians, were stuck with more than $5,700 in hospital and doctor bills after than hour-and-a-half visit. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Las Vegas police brief the media on fatal crash
Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Nick Farese addresses the media about a car accident at South Fort Apache Road and West Arby Avenue that left one minor dead and one hospitalized on Monday, March 25, 2019. (Mike Shoro/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Arbor View parent talks about racial issues at the school
Lawanna Calhoun, a former Arbor View parent, talks about the state of the school. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Foley talks about 30 years of living HIV-positive
Jim Foley, who was diagnosed as HIV positive 30 years ago, talks at his home in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Traffic Slows to a Crawl on I-15S Near Primm
Traffic slowed to a crawl around 2:30p Sunday, on I-15S near Primm, Nevada.
Homeless residents speak about safety
The homeless residents living at the corner of Owens Ave. and Main St. reflect on how they feel about their safety after two homeless men died, one was hit crossing the street and another was beat to death by another homeless man. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
CCSD Superintendent address alleged racially motivated threats at Arbor View
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara gives update on alleged racially motivated threats against Arbor View High School, and says such threats will not be tolerated. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Super Bloom Near Lake Elsinore, California
Crowds packed the hills near Lake Elsinore on Saturday to capture a rare selfie amidst the super bloom of poppies turning the landscape purple. The super bloom was caused by the larger rainfall this year. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Teenager in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in Henderson
Authorities were called about 2:45 p.m. to the scene in the 2100 block of Olympic Avenue, near Green Valley Parkway and Sunset Road. The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Water Question Part 3: Conservation loves a crisis
Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River.
The Water Question Part 7: How much can we grow?
Many experts agree that Southern Nevada can continue to grow, so long as residents are willing to do what needs to be done to stretch our crucial resource as far as it will go.
The Water Question Part 6: How many people can Southern Nevada’s water sustain?
The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth, conservation efforts and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.
Home Front Page Footer Listing