Del Papa to decide
NDOW Director, Two Employees
May End Up in Court as Plaintiffs
In Suit Against Elko Grand Jury

Elko Daily Free Press

Reno attorney Rich Elmore said he plans to ask the Attorney General's Office for funding to sue the Elko County Grand Jury on behalf of three Elko state employees who were named in a grand jury presentment.
Elmore, speaking to the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners at its meeting Friday in Reno, said since the Nevada Division of Wildlife employees were doing their jobs as state employees, the state should pay the cost of a civil suit against the grand jury, Elko County District Attorney Gary Woodbury and any other person or entity involved in the presentment.
NDOW Director Willie Molini and NDOW employees Larry Barngrover, Duane Erikson and Ken Gray were named in the presentment along with U.S. Forest Service employees Ben Siminoe and John Inman. All were accused of committing the gross misdemeanor of oppression under color of office in the mule deer habitat mitigation involving the 1994 expansion of Independence Mining Co.
The grand jury said the six men could not be indicted because the two-year statute of limitations had expired.
Elmore, who has not returned telephone calls to his office, received support from the wildlife commission, which passed a motion to recommend the attorney general inquire into whether the



state should represent the NDOW employees in a suit.
"This is not a money issue," Elmore said. "They want their good names cleared to the extent that can be done. They want a judicial determination that this was improper, that it never should have occurred, that they never should have been accused of a crime that didn't happen in the first place."
Woodbury stood by his previous advice that the state employees already have an avenue to clear their names by waiving the statute of limitations defense and challenging the charges at trial.
Elmore's intentions were disclosed to the commission after Deputy Attorney General Wayne Howell prepared an opinion clearing all state employees of any criminal wrongdoing -- an opinion that carries no weight of law.
Since the Feb. 13 presentment, Pete Morros, head of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which oversees


 NDOW, and wildlife commission Chairman Mahlon Brown have
consistently lambasted the grand jury's actions and defended the state employees.
"I think the Elko County Grand Jury was so out of line, I think the district attorney was so out line, but I've said that before," Brown said at Friday's meeting. "I think it's a travesty that these men have had to go out and hire a private attorney and the State of Nevada has not stepped up to bat for them."
Brown said the opinion, which was requested by Morros, asked the wrong question. Brown said he would seek an opinion on the legality of the grand jury's and Woodbury's actions.
"I think there's been some spurious behavior by some people in our state," Brown said.
Howell said Tuesday that Elmore had not filed the necessary petition to seek funding from the state and that Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa would have the last word on funding.
Although Howell said Friday the AG's Office could not defend the employees against a criminal charge, he




did not rule out the possibility of the state representing them in a civil case. Howell said Del Papa has statutory authority to decide if the state should pursue the suit or if special counsel should be hired.
Elmore said he has already had trouble acquiring transcripts of the grand jury proceedings.
"They have no intention of cooperating," Elmore said. "They have no intention whatsoever of addressing this problem in any kind of civil, reasonable manner."
Elko District Judge Mike Memeo, who receives the information gleaned by the grand jury, said he could not comment because of the possibility of further action.
In the public court file for the grand jury, no petition had been filed as of Thursday seeking a copy of the transcripts, which Elmore said his clients were statutorily required to have since being named in the presentment.


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