The Wall Street Journal tells the tale of a feud in the deserts of Nevada, where a sheriff recently arrested the district attorney on charges that he misused public funds, prompting the D.A. to arrest one of the sheriff’s deputies, creating an intractable boondoggle for the poor desert county where they live.
The Nye County feud has been going on for years. It came to a head in May, when the sheriff, Tony De Meo, had a deputy arrest the D.A., Robert Beckett. De Meo alleges that Beckett is illegally using money his office collects from a bad check program to fund his wife’s cheerleading squad. No charges have been filed, as Beckett refuses to file charges against himself.
Beckett then appointed a special prosecutor to look into the sheriff’s office, alleging sabotage. The prosecutor charged the deputy, David Boruchowitz, with felony charges of “oppression under color of office” and false arrest, according to the local paper. Boruchowitz had to lock himself in the county jail, and then he put out a press release with his own mug shot.
A judge then dismissed the charges, telling Beckett he didn’t have the authority to appoint a prosecutor. Beckett then filed the charges himself.
So many local public officials have ties to one or both of the men that the Nevada Supreme Court shipped in a judge from hundreds of miles away to appoint a special prosecutor to sort everything out.
“It’s a pity in these times, but Nye County is going to have to foot the bill for that,” the judge told the Pahrump Valley Times.
Defense lawyers, as the WSJ reports, are pouncing on the feud. One lawyer, representing a murder suspect, wrote in a filing:
“A review of the Internet reveals that Nye County is the laughing stock of the known universe.”
Beckett had been in hot water for the bad checks program already. The program, which allows writers of bad checks to pay back any money with a payment plan rather than go to jail, stipulates that the county gets 10 percent of each check. The money is supposed to go in the county treasury, but Beckett created a separate account because, he said, Bank of America branches were more convenient to his office. When the county tried to audit the program, Beckett stalled, skipping meetings with the auditor. Then he was arrested.
Beckett says he has used the program to fund youth activities like the junior rodeo, in exchange for a banner advertising his bad check prevention program. He contends that’s a legal use of the funds.