Top 10 Local Stories

Who says the media crave scandal and corruption? That we print nothing but bad news because we want to sell papers?

That is simply not true.

Take a look at the top 10 news stories from 2008, as voted on by the Review-Journal’s staff. It’s a virtual wheelbarrow full of fun! Marshmallow cream pies wrapped in the smiles of children! Sunshine, rendered in words!

Why, 2008 will almost certainly go down as one of the happiest 366-day periods (it was a leap year, remember) in Las Vegas history.

OK. Not really. Pretty much what you’ve got here is disease, depression and death. We’re sorry. We hate doing this to you. But reality is what it is. It’s been a tough year for all of us.

Even the stuff that just missed the top 10 list was flashy enough to sell a few papers: The state’s lieutenant governor, Brian Krolicki, was indicted, but he blamed politics; it snowed more than it has here since 1979; homeowners associations were accused of rigging construction defect lawsuits; the Monte Carlo’s facade burned when welders worked without required permits. We’re surprised the obvious and rapidly approaching apocalypse didn’t make the list.

Ah, well, let’s get this thing started.


Tens of thousands of people received chilling letters from government health authorities warning them that they might have contracted a deadly disease from HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS.

Workers at two Las Vegas surgical clinics owned by Dr. Dipak Desai were accused of improperly reusing vials of medication, which led authorities to notify more than 50,000 patients that some might have been exposed to disease. Both centers have since shut down and Desai (pictured below, top left) faces a host of troubles.

So far, nine patients who have been diagnosed with hepatitis C have been directly linked to the two clinics. More than 100 other cases might be connected.

The scandal — it involved the largest such notification in U.S. history — has launched inquiries by local police, the state Medical Board, the FBI and the IRS.

2. POP

The bubble exploded and shrapnel hit us all. Home values plunged. Homeowners stopped paying the bills. Banks swooped in. Foreclosures soared. Inventory grew. Debt piled up. Financial institutions failed. Tourism slowed. Tax revenue trickled in. Budgets were cut. Jobs were lost.

The foreclosure crisis grew out of the giddy days of yore, when you could buy a house on Monday, sell it on Friday, and retire over the weekend. No more.

Nevada is among the nation’s leaders in foreclosures. Unemployment is at a 25-year high, and will probably go higher.

Gaming revenue is down more than 20 percent, year-over-year, which means state tax revenues are down as well.

State officials have projected budget cuts of massive proportions in coming months. Almost nothing is spared. Textbooks, medical care, construction. It’s all going to be cut.

Legislators closed this year’s gap with a special session in December, but next year isn’t looking any better.



Nevada had more politicians passing through it in 2008 than a swanky strip club with a don’t ask, don’t tell policy on graft.

Our five priceless electoral votes got us wooed endlessly, from the early primaries and caucuses right through the November election.

Barack Obama turned the state blue for the first time since Bill Clinton’s reign. Voter registration rolls swelled to record levels, particularly the Democratic rolls.

There were also local elections, which saw the end of Bruce Woodbury’s career after 27 years on the Clark County Commission because of term limits. Dina Titus whomped Jon Porter and will replace him in Congress. The state Senate went Democratic, and the Assembly reached the magical two-thirds Democratic majority.


Nine years ago, we welcomed the dawn of the year 2000 with trepidation and excitement. Nine years it’s been since that idiocy took us all along for a ride. Long time, no?

That’s how long O.J. "the Juice" Simpson will be behind bars. Nine years, at a minimum. Maybe as long as 33, assuming he’s alive that long.

Simpson, the most famous might-have-gotten-away-with-murder-former-world-class-athlete ever to rob a couple of small-time memorabilia dealers in an off-Strip casino, groveled before District Judge Jackie Glass before she sent him to the hoosegow.

It didn’t work.

She pointed out that he was clearly guilty, as the whole thing was recorded on audio tape. She pointed out that what he did was violent. She didn’t have to point out what a bunch of idiocy this all was. Simpson quite capably did that himself.

5. Judge not, lest ye be … Oh, never mind. Judge away

The Ick Factor of the year award goes to Nicholas Del Vecchio and Elizabeth Halverson, both of whom began 2008 as paragons of virtue and are ending it as something quite different.

Both lost their bids for re-election, but that’s the least of their problems.

Del Vecchio, a Family Court judge, was removed from office in October after he admitted to numerous sexual improprieties. They included having sex with a staff member during work hours.

Halverson? You’ll remember her as the larger-than-life, wheelchair-bound District Court judge who rarely gets mentioned without the word "embattled" real close to her name.

Halverson, who was already suspended from the bench, was removed from her judgeship in November.

Allegations against her were numerous, the most memorable that she forced her bailiff to rub her feet.


He ain’t Rod Blagojevich, but Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons made the paper every now and then for things that weren’t, shall we say, governorly.

Like text messaging a gal pal 860-odd times in a six-week period.

Or battling it out in public with his perhaps-not-coincidentally estranged wife, Dawn, in their divorce proceedings.

Or announcing that he is no longer the target of an FBI investigation that had alleged he took unreported gifts when he was a congressman.

Gibbons’ poll numbers crashed and burned.


People died in several plane crashes this year, many with connections to the North Las Vegas Airport.

The first crashed in June at Mount Charleston, killing four Californians. It had taken off from North Las Vegas Airport.

Then, an experimental plane out of North Las Vegas Airport crashed into a house Aug. 22 near Lake Mead Boulevard and Simmons Street.

The crash killed pilot Mack Murphree, as well as Jack and Lucy Costa, who were in their home minding their own business.

Six days later, a small airplane experiencing engine trouble clipped a power line and plunged into a house on north Jones Boulevard, a mile short of the runway at North Las Vegas Airport.

The pilot, William Leahy, was killed. But all 10 people in the house were able to scramble to relative safety.

Three weeks later, a Las Vegas couple, Floyd and Diane Williams, were killed when their plane crashed near Denver. They had taken off from North Las Vegas.

In early October, Las Vegan Greg Jaspers, a former Air Force test pilot, died when his experimental plane crashed near Sandy Valley.

The crash had no connection to North Las Vegas Airport.

Las Vegan Grant Phillips died in October when his experimental plane crashed in Utah. He was returning to … North Las Vegas Airport.

All of that had people who live near North Las Vegas Airport carefully watching the sky. And complaining.

County airport director Randall Walker says he wants more local control over airports, but federal authorities say that’s a long shot.


Summerlin hugs the western edge of Las Vegas like a big brother with strong shoulders and a BMW in the garage. It is rarely mentioned in crime stories of any sort.

Except this year.

In February, 15-year-old Christopher Privett, a freshman and honor student at Summerlin’s Palo Verde High School, was killed in a drive-by shooting that no one can make real sense of.

Two teenagers are charged with murder in the case.


Cole Puffinburger is a 6-year-old kid with the cutest name ever to grace these pages.

He was kidnapped from his home after his grandpa, Clemens Fred Tinnemeyer, stole $4 million from a Mexican drug cartel, according to court documents.

A frenzied, nationwide search ensued. Cable news outlets got goose bumps.

And then, Cole turned up a few days later, walking alone in a downtown neighborhood. A bus driver picked him up. He is perfectly fine.

His grandpa and others were arrested.


The folks at University Medical Center must be looking forward to the end of 2008. The county’s public hospital is in need of a little treatment itself after the awful year it had.

The hospital cut a dozen programs after Medicaid announced it would cut its reimbursement rate.

The outpatient oncology program was nixed, as was UMC’s contract with the Nevada Cancer Institute, which handled outpatient cancer treatment.

The hospital also cut its programs for prenatal care and kidney dialysis.

Along with the cuts, UMC’s kidney transplant program was harshly criticized for its relatively high death rate. Though threatened with closure, the program was given a six-month reprieve and ordered to improve. Or else.

To top it all off: UMC’s former CEO, Lacy Thomas, who’d been fired a year earlier, was indicted in February and charged with steering lucrative contracts to his friends.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake or 702-383-0307.

Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The world's longest racetrack could be coming to Pahrump
Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump might be the first racetrack in the world longer than 16 miles long once the expansion is complete. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Search for missing 3-year-old boy at Sunset Park
Las Vegas police and Red Rock Search and Rescue team search for a missing child at Sunset Park in southeast Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept.2, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speaks at Las Vegas tech conference
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school in Pakistan after advocating for girls' education, spoke at VMworld 2018 at Mandalay Bay. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father recalls the night his 14-year-old son died jumping into moving traffic
From the Clark County Detention Center, Ezequiel Anorve Serrano talks about the night his 14-year-old son, Silas Anorve, died jumping into moving traffic on U.S. 95. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Palace Station unveils new sports book
Palace Station talks about the new sports book Thursday, August 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
One of world's longest racetracks planned in Pahrump by 2020
The racetrack will be 16 miles long by the year 2020 according to Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club owner John Morris. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Robotics takes off at Las Vegas Academy
Las Vegas Academy’s robotics team made it all the way to the world competition last year, the first year the team competed. Zackary Perry describes how they programmed their robot to compete. The team is an example of what Tesla wants to have in every school in the state. (Meghin Delaney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bicyclist suffers major head trauma in hit-and-run
A bicyclist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a Thursday morning hit-and-run crash near the school formerly known as Agassi Prep. Police said the bicyclist was hit by a white SUV, which fled the scene. The injured man suffered multiple injuries including major head trauma. As of 9 a.m., Lake Mead remained closed between Martin Luther King and Revere Street while police investigate.
Las Vegas artist Dave Dave dies at 42
Dave Dave talks about his art and his life in 2016. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dave Dave, whose dad set him on fire in 1983, dies
Dave Dave, a respected Las Vegas artist who was badly scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death in Southern California, died at Sunrise Hospital on July 15. He was 42. When he was 6, Dave's father tried to kill him by setting him on fire. He was given a sleeping pill and his bed at a Buena Park, California, motel was doused with kerosene. “I remembered being in a lot of pain,” Dave told the Review-Journal in 2016. “When stuff happens to you at that young of an age, you tend to block it out, but I remember the pain was excruciating.” Dave, who was born David Rothenberg, became close friends with Michael Jackson, who met him after the attack, which burned more than 90 percent of his body. “I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, and that just turned into a lifelong relationship that never ended,” Dave said. “It was amazing being friends with Michael Jackson. He was an amazing person.” Dave attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and collaborated with various artists around Las Vegas, eventually selling his art to private collectors. Despite his challenges, he continued to live, thrive and create. Dave Dave
Homicide detectives investigate woman's death
Las Vegas police were called to Tahiti Village Resort early Wednesday after calls that someone had been shot. Police found a woman’s body between a parking garage and boiler room on the resort's property. A guest first reported hearing gunfire. There are no witnesses, but police will examine surveillance videos and look for clues. The woman was not identified, but a purse was found near the body. She did not appear to be a guest at the resort.
LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
North Las Vegas unveils new school crosswalk
North Las Vegas councilman Isaac Barron talks about the new school crosswalk in front of CP Squires Elementary School Monday, August 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
LVMPD Briefing on OIS #13
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly held a press conference to discuss details of the 13th officer-involved-shoot for the department in 2018. Video shows the moments before the suspect was shot. The shooting, which has been edited out, occurred as the suspect lunged at an officer outside the apartment. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sedan and semitrailer collide in south Las Vegas
An early Wednesday morning crash has left one person in critical condition. A sedan and semitrailer collided around 4 a.m. at the corner of Spencer Street and Serene Avenue. Police do not believe impairment is a factor in the crash. Spencer has been blocked off north of Serene while police continue their investigation.
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