Washoe County Grand Jury
Washoe County Courthouse
Post Office Box 11130
Reno, Nevada 89520
September 26, 1996
Steven P. Elliott
Sparks City Attorney
431 Prager Way
Sparks NV 89431 HAND DELIVERED
RE: request for investigation of allegations concerning the Airport Authority of Washoe County
Dear Mr. Elliott:
At our regular meeting of September 25, 1996 District Attorney Richard Gammick and Assistant District Attorney John Helzer presented your letter dated September 13, 1996 which consisted of eighteen numbered allegations in your request for a grand jury investigation. Attached to your request was a letter from C. Robert Cox to Mr. Robert C. White, dated April 25, 1996; a letter from John L. Pheifer to Robert C. White, dated April 3, 1996; a letter sent by John S. Munro to the Mayor and Sparks City Council dated September 3, 1996; an eight page brief of minutes of the Airport Authority of Washoe County dated January 25, 1996 and a single page labeled page eight represented as minutes of the Airport Authority of April 25, 1996.
Our understanding from Mr. Gammick and Mr. Helzer is that the letter with the allegations and all of the supporting documents werre reviewed by the office of the Washoe County District Attorney, the Washoe County Sheriffs Department and the Honorable Mills Lane, Chief Judge of the Second Judicial District Court. Mr. Gammick and Mr. Helzer discussed each of the allegations with us and answered our questions concerning the law. They then left the room leaving us with your letter, the above described enclosures and the Nevada Revised Statutes which apply to the Airport Authority of Washoe County.
After reviewing the entire matter, we were unable to find any allegations that we believe are criminal, at least based on the information that was furnished. In allegations number two, twelve and thirteen we failed to see any issue at all. This was especially true in item number thirteen in light of the statutory requirement that the Airport Authority follow the Local Government Budget Act. We feel that items number three, four, five and six are managment issues which need a clearer definition as to what is reasonable. If the appropriate police reports were filed in item number ten, then that should be investigated through the normal course.
Based on our review of everything submitted, we would like to offer to you the following recommendations:
That the Sparks City Council follow the direction already set by the Reno City Council and the two councils in conjuction with the Board of County commissioners obtain an independent unbiased professional management audit. Such an audit should be beneficial to idientifying specific problems and making recommendations to resolve those problems.
Item number fourteen should be referred to the Nevada State Ethics Commission.
Item number one should be referred to the Nevada Tax Commission.
We would like to emphasize that based on the information submitted to us, we did not find any criminal conduct. However, if there is further information available as to any of these allegations which would indicate criminal conduct, we recommend that it be submitted to Captain Ernest Jesch of the Washoe County Sheriffs Department. The Sheriffs Department has agreed to investigate any criminal allegations and to submit those investigations to the Washoe County District Attorneys Office for evaluation.
Previous grand jurys have been criticized by the Nevada Supreme Court for issuing public condemnations and implying criminal behavior, but not indicting those involved. In re: Report of Washoe County Grand Jury, 95 Nev. 121.590 P.2d 622 (1979) and Biglieri v. Washoe County Grand Jury Report, etc., 95 Nev. 696, 601 P.2d 703 (1979). Therefore, it is our position that the contents of your September 13, 1996 letter are confidential in nature and should be treated as such. If you have any questions concerning this, you should contact the Washoe County District Attorney or the Assistant District Attorney.
From the tenure[sic] of your letter we concluded that the Sparks City Council is looking for direction on how to deal with the Airport Authority difficulties. We unanimously agreed that this was not a matter appropriate for Grand Jury investigation. We do hope that the recommendations will give the Sparks City Council some direction in its quest for solutions.
If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me, either through Judge Lane or District Attorney Gammick.
Washoe County Grand Jury Foreman
cc: Sheriff Richard Kirkland
District Attorney Richard Gammick