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Ethics complaints, not rape claim, could end Nevada sheriff’s reign

Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro in his Virginia City office with one of his re-election campaign signs. An ethics complaint against him says the sign is among several campaign materials that ...

VIRGINIA CITY — The embattled sheriff of rural Storey County has survived costs of office sexual harassment and discrimination, allegations of sexual crimes and three confirmed state ethics violations.

However what may lastly show Sheriff Gerald Antinoro’s undoing are three new pending ethics instances — on stability, among the many much less critical allegations he has confronted — that put him nearer to being faraway from workplace than even the recall election he survived in 2017.

The sheriff has twice been discovered to have willfully dedicated ethics violations by the state Fee on Ethics, and a 3rd willful violation would set off motion by the fee to hunt his removing within the courts. Such a course of would doubtless be prolonged and laborious, and the sheriff stated lately that he would problem any effort to take away him.

However that could be the least of Sheriff Gerald Antinoro’s authorized woes, all of which he attributes to efforts of “detractors” preventing him for management of the county.

“Pretty much all of them are connected in one way or another, yes,” he stated in an interview in his Virginia Metropolis workplace final month.

All the six pending or beforehand determined ethics complaints towards Antinoro declare he used numerous trappings of his workplace to his benefit in private issues or did not disclose potential conflicts.

In addition to the complaints, Storey County’s prime uniformed officer, elected to a 3rd four-year time period final June, is the goal of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed that alleges sexual harassment and office discrimination.

The harassment dates to 2015. An inner investigation carried out by an outdoor social gathering in 2016 confirmed that the sheriff violated harassment legal guidelines in his conduct towards his former chief deputy, Melanie Keener. Antinoro has denied Keener’s claims of discrimination and harassment and moved to dismiss the case.

One other ongoing lawsuit includes defamation claims filed towards Antinoro by one in every of his chief antagonists, Lance Gilman, a county commissioner, brothel proprietor and principal of the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Middle, a 104,000-acre industrial park in Storey County billed as the most important within the nation. TRIC is house to main amenities operated by Tesla, Google and different know-how corporations, and enterprise exercise there’s reinventing commerce within the sparsely populated, rustic county whose final main enterprise rush arguably was the 19th-century silver mining growth.

Gilman and enterprise associates are behind a few of the ethics complaints. Additionally they backed the recall effort and have requested regulation enforcement for investigations into the sheriff’s actions and health for workplace.

“His conduct ought to be unacceptable for a man wearing a badge,” stated Kris Thompson, enterprise supervisor for Gilman on the industrial park, who filed two of the newest ethics complaints.

Thompson cites alleged actions by the sheriff, in addition to different officers underneath his command, which might be graphically depicted in sworn depositions taken within the federal civil rights case, together with these of present and former Storey County deputies and Antinoro himself. The deponents describe a bootleg affair between a supervising deputy and a division trainee, acts of voyeurism, Antinoro’s patronage of a Las Vegas swinger membership, partner-swapping, pandering and intercourse with a number of companions.

“I admit to issues in my life and things that have gone on in my bedroom with consenting adults,” Antinoro informed the Evaluate-Journal when requested concerning the behaviors outlined within the depositions. “What goes on in my bedroom with consenting adults is nobody’s business. But these guys want to turn it into a circus and try and create something that there’s not.”

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Felony allegations

The depictions transcend acts of consensual intercourse and embrace allegations of rapes orchestrated or carried out by the 54-year-old lawman, together with an alleged 2015 gang rape of a lady he was courting. In response to the sufferer’s deposition, Antinoro organized the assault by three males at a motel in Lodi, California, so he could watch.

The lady was deposed within the civil case however has not filed legal costs and has resisted cooperation with regulation enforcement, professing worry of the sheriff in her deposition. Antinoro referred to as her accusations “a complete and utter fabrication.”

“The only thing truthful of that is that the two of us were there in Lodi together. The rest of it is complete hogwash,” he stated.

Requested if he had been questioned by regulation enforcement concerning the incident, Antinoro stated he had “talked to a whole bunch of people” about it however declined to provide specifics. An accusation of a 2006 rape in Sparks, reported for the primary time in 2014, was not investigated as a result of the statute of limitations had expired when the sufferer got here ahead. Antinoro has by no means been criminally charged.

The state of Nevada in 2015 prolonged the statute of limitations in rape instances from 4 years to 20.

Letters to lawyer common

A lawyer for Gilman’s industrial park associate requested the lawyer common’s workplace in April 2018 to research the varied accusations. The workplace’s subsequent evaluation, which included FBI interviews of alleged victims, resulted in what the lawyer basic’s workplace described as contradictory findings, statutory lifeless ends or non-criminal exercise.

Final August, Keener’s lawyer within the sexual harassment case,wrote once more to the lawyer basic, in addition to the U.S. Lawyer in Reno and the district attorneys in Storey County and San Joaquin County in California, the place Lodi is situated, to stipulate alleged legal conduct and “address the apparent lack of any meaningful investigation” by regulation enforcement.

The AG’s workplace responded in October saying it could not pursue issues additional, citing inadequate proof, contradictory findings, restricted jurisdiction and uncooperative witnesses. The matter turned a marketing campaign difficulty within the race for governor and lawyer basic as a result of Republican candidates Adam Laxalt and Wes Duncan did not denounce Antinoro’s endorsement of them. Laxalt and Duncan each misplaced their races.

Inside days of that letter, the Fee on Ethics returned its second discovering of a willful ethics violation by the sheriff.

Ethics complaints

Storey County officers, deposed within the civil case, stated Antinoro has been the reason for a minimum of 10 lawsuits or complaints since he joined the sheriff’s division in 2006 from earlier work as chief of enforcement for the Nevada Transportation Authority in Las Vegas, and previous to that, as a police officer in West Wendover in Elko County.

The three pending ethics instances stem from complaints filed in Might, July and November of 2018. Two are associated to Antinoro’s re-election marketing campaign in June. Antinoro defeated Mike Cullen, a Carson Metropolis sheriff’s workplace sergeant, who filed one of many pending complaints in July claiming that Antinoro misused the trimmings of his workplace by showing in uniform at three marketing campaign debates.

Antinoro additionally appeared in uniform throughout Virginia Metropolis’s Memorial Day parade, driving in a patrol automotive initially and showing a second time later in the identical parade on a float, based on the grievance.

Moreover, Cullen cited a weekly radio present Antinoro started internet hosting in Might. On his third present, which aired the day of the election, Antinoro talked with friends “about the election, mudslinging and detractors,” and one among his visitors spoke of a “real clear choice” in that day’s contest.

Antinoro, in line with Cullen’s grievance, additionally solicited donations to help this system through the broadcast and referred to as out sponsors by identify to “reward his friends and political donors.”

The fee accepted the grievance for assessment in September. The fee does not touch upon or affirm pending actions or its selections to research or not.

Sheriff responds

The fee’s investigation is pending. The sheriff could have a chance to problem the complaints as a part of the fee’s evaluation. However in an interview, Antinoro denied that he wore his official uniform to the debates and stated it’s his customized to put on a modified or “soft” uniform — sometimes, denims, polo shirt and a badge he had specifically made. That’s what he wore within the parade, he stated, calling his actions “pretty standard.”

“As a general rule, I lead the parade through town, at least all of the big parades, whether it’s political season or not,” Antinoro stated. “I go through town in the parade leading it in a patrol car and everything and then I circle back around and I park here at the office and I’ll come out during the political things or if there’s something that I’m doing in the parade.”

Antinoro additionally cited a 2014 determination by the fee to drop comparable costs on electioneering in uniform towards the Elko County sheriff for lack of clear steerage within the regulation.

A second grievance filed in Might and accepted for evaluation in July additionally cites Antinoro’s inappropriate use of uniform and badge in billboards and different marketing campaign supplies, saying it constituted “a visual endorsement, affirmation and sanction of his personal reelection campaign for Sheriff and provides an unfair advantage to him at government cost.”

The third pending grievance, filed in November, was accepted by the fee Dec. 31. It claims 14 ethics violations for Antinoro’s repeated failure to reveal potential conflicts and abstain from appearing within the sheriff’s official capability to manage brothel exercise as a result of he’s concerned in litigation with a enterprise he’s alleged to be regulating. The sheriff’s workplace points work playing cards to brothel staff and the sheriff sits on the county’s brothel licensing board.

The conflicts cited in that grievance come up from the disputes enjoying out in space courts, earlier than the Ethics Fee and locally at giant between Antinoro and Gilman. In 2016, Gilman filed a defamation case towards Antinoro for telling an area blogger that brothel staff at Gilman’s Mustang Ranch did not have vital medical clearance.

Antinoro subsequently filed an ethics grievance towards Gilman as a county commissioner that was dropped. He has additionally filed a counterclaim in Gilman’s defamation case.

The November ethics grievance says Antinoro continued to take part in regulating brothels with out acknowledging the potential battle or abstaining because of the ongoing litigation. Thompson filed the grievance and the sooner one from Might on Antinoro’s marketing campaign supplies.

“To claim that there’s an ethical violation there by trying to bootstrap it onto the fact that he’s suing me, it’s just one more attempt to try and keep me from doing my job,” Antinoro stated.

Thompson cited Antinoro’s counterclaim, long-standing private animus, and the truth that Antinoro since November has recused himself from actions associated to brothel regulation.

“You can’t sue someone and then be making quasi-judicial or regulatory decisions about their business,” Thompson stated. “You can’t have a clear personal animus or hatred.”

Confirmed violations

Among the many determined instances, the fee final fall discovered the sheriff breached ethics regulation towards use of presidency property for private enterprise by opening his workplace on a Saturday to permit his spouse to satisfy her ex-husband for a kid visitation appointment. Antinoro contended that such lodging are made for different members of the general public. However the fee discovered his motion constituted an “unwarranted privilege” prolonged to his spouse.

The fee deemed that incident a willful violation, Antinoro’s second. His first got here in Might 2017, when the fee dominated that he improperly used official sheriff’s division stationery for a letter endorsing Michele Fiore in her 2016 bid for Congress. Fiore now serves on the Las Vegas Metropolis Council.

Each findings got here with fines. An earlier grievance was resolved by stipulated settlement and no discovering of willful violation. In 2014, a deputy operating for sheriff towards Antinoro filed a grievance when Antinoro barred the deputy from attending a campaign-related group occasion on his personal time.

The fee acknowledged that the transfer was probably a First Modification violation however did not represent a willful ethics violation as outlined in state code.

Antinoro maintains that his accusers are utilizing a “bastardization of rumors” to have regulation enforcement, the courts or the ethics panel do what county voters have declined to do — take away him from workplace. He continues to have robust backing within the county and counts native enterprise individuals, an lively native blogger, lawmakers and police officers from different jurisdictions amongst supporters. He gained re-election in 2018 by a 53-44 margin and beat again a well-funded recall effort the yr earlier than with almost 60 % of the vote.

“I’ve been doing this job for over 30 years,” he stated. “If I was this individual that these people are trying to present me as, would I have been able to retain it that long? The people of the county here locally see through their nonsense. But that’s not good enough for them because they don’t want me in this position.”

Thompson stated the actions by the sheriff depicted in numerous depositions and different data would immediate anybody who has seen them to name for Antinoro’s removing.

“We know the conduct that is in that sworn testimony, including his own conduct that he’s admitted to,” Thompson stated. “When we’re bringing the best companies in the world to work in Storey County, we think law enforcement should be held to a better standard than what this guy has established for himself.”

Contact Invoice Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Comply with @Dentzernews on Twitter.

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