'Jumping up and down' mad
NDOW Chairman Fuming Over
Grand Jury Corruption Charge

Elko Daily Free Press

The Elko County Grand Jury and Elko officials suffered a blistering attack from Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners Chairman Mahlon Brown at the board's meeting last month, but Elko County District Attorney Gary Woodbury shrugged off the criticisms and threats.
Someday, somewhere, a state official will understand the intent of the presentment made by the Elko County Grand Jury, Woodbury said.
But, until that day, the D.A. added, comments like those from Brown will continue to show the unwillingness of officials to even try to understand the dilemma facing rural Nevada.
Brown announced at the March 22 Wildlife Commission meeting in Las Vegas that, "When this first happened I got real mad. I was jumping up and down. This is running amok and I don't see it getting any better.... the wildlife commissioners are victims of silly behavior, I think.
"I don't think people should be going around... improperly and maybe illegally indicting people. It's outlandish behavior. This behavior is done by a very few number of people who don't understand the criminal justice process and the grand jury process and how sacred that is and how responsible you should be with that kind of process.
"To knowingly make an offer or a presentment or return something on a statute that has already had the statute of limitations run out on it, to me, that steps across the line. The line of those things that are legally permissible and it crosses



the line of those things that are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution."
Woodbury said he had not known the commission was going to discuss the grand jury findings and was not invited to attend the meeting.
"The matter at issue is really two questions," Woodbury said of the Feb. 13 grand jury presentment.
"One, if the state was entitled to $1.5 million in mitigation fees from Independence Mining Co., why did the Nevada Division of Wildlife, specifically Mr. (Willie) Molini, settle for $500,000?
And two, if the state and NDOW were not entitled to $1.5 million, then why were they originally demanding that much money?
"I am confident, at some point, some state official will see that those are the ultimate questions and make a determination when something was done right and when something was done wrong," Woodbury said.
He said he has tried to spread the word on the presentment, bringing to light the grand jury's recommendation for tighter legislative control on NDOW, but all anyone is


 
concentrating on is clearing the names of the four state and two federal employees named.
"The grand jury report is very clear and concise," Woodbury said. "It speaks to all the issues and I can't say it verbally any better than it says in the report."
Brown suggested the Attorney General's Office begin to pursue criminal charges against the 17 members of the grand jury and county officials because of the hardship the presentment has caused to the named state officials.
"What certain officials in Elko County are doing, they're using public criminal statutes to enforce or threaten or extort the civil decision-making process," Brown said.
"'Either you do it the way we like you to do it or the way we want you to do it or we're going to criminally indict you.' That is a misuse of public office and that is an indictable offense."
Deputy Attorney General Wayne Howell was present at the meeting and said no crime was committed by the state officials, "based on the facts as I know them." Howell said three




options are available to the state concerning the presentment: seek a judgment to effectively throw out the findings of the grand jury; issue an Attorney General's opinion, which would not carry the weight of law; or encourage the four employees to seek civil recourse to clear their names.
The employees also could waive the statute of limitations defense and challenge the charges in criminal courts. But, Howell said, "The state cannot pay for the criminal defense of state employees. It's an unfortunate fact, but the legislature wants it that way."
Brown said he would meet with Frankie Sue Del Papa to get her and her office involved in the matter. Brown has not returned a telephone call to his Las Vegas law office and Del Papa's spokesman, Misty Young, said she was unaware of any meetings involving Brown.
"I am willing to sacrifice all the fish in all the rivers and ponds in Las Vegas to make sure that guy (Larry Barngrover, NDOW Elko district manager) doesn't get illegally indicted," Brown said.


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