Las Vegas police arrested a county official Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of murder in the death of a reporter they had previously accused of waging a “smear” campaign against him..
The arrest of Clark County Public Trustee Robert Telles, a 45-year-old Democrat who oversees probate of the estates of people who have died, followed an hours-long standoff after Telles entered his home. It also came hours after police first executed a search warrant at Telles’ home and nearly a week after Review-Journal Investigative reporter Jeff German was found dead outside his home on Friday.
Teles was loaded from his house on a stretcher and in an ambulance, according to a Review-Journal journalist. It’s a press conference scheduled for Thursday morning.
Telles’ possible connection to Germanos’ death came after some of Germanos’ co-workers saw police arrive at Telles’ home Wednesday morning. Detectives at the scene confirmed that the investigation is related to the German’s murder Review-Journal mentionted.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Las Vegas Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said “Robert Telles’ arrest is both a huge relief and an outrage for the Review-Journal newsroom.”
“We are relieved that Robert Telles is in custody and outraged that a colleague of his appears to have been killed for reporting on an elected official,” Cook added. “Journalists can’t do the important work our communities demand if they fear reporting the facts could lead to violent punishment. We thank the Las Vegas Police Department for their prompt and hard work and for immediately recognizing the terrible significance of Jeff’s murder.”
Police have not yet revealed the motive behind the German’s murder. They said the 69-year-old was found dead outside his home on Friday, fatally stabbed in what they believe was an “argument” the day before.
Detectives had released grainy photos of someone wearing a straw hat, gloves and an orange long-sleeved shirt who they believe was involved. Police also described a vehicle of interest—a red or maroon 2007 to 2014 GMC Yukon Denali with chrome handles and a sunroof.
Journalists from Review-Journal staked outside Telles’ home this week, claiming they spotted him in his driveway in an SUV matching the one described by police on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday the car was towed shortly after noon.
Las Vegas investigative reporter stabbed to death outside his home
Telles was not shy about publicly declaring his hatred for the late reporter and had just lost a re-election race, which he blamed on the German.
Most of Tells’ vitriol came from a series of stories published by the Review-Journal this summer who claimed he was an abusive boss who had an inappropriate relationship with another county official at work.
To understand the story, the German talked to people who worked under Telles. He was described as a hostile boss who played favorites. Those workers also alleged that real estate coordinator Roberta Lee-Kennett enjoyed special powers in the office because of her personal relationship with Telles.
Workers said they took a video of Lee-Kennett and Telles, who is married with children, hanging out of the back of his car at work. Review-Journal mentionted. Telles, 45, has denied all charges and Lee-Kennett has also denied any type of inappropriate relationship.
The last story the German published about Telles was to announce that he had conceded in the primary race, having taken third place.
With his days as county official numbered after his defeat in June, Tells took to Twitter and his website to vent his anger at German, claiming Lee-Kennett was not a lover but someone he “ could be supported’ by trying to change. atmosphere of his office.
A tweet from Telles accused the German of preparing “smear piece #4.”
“I think he’s crazy I didn’t crawl into a hole and die,” read another tweet.
In a strange post on his former campaign website, labeled “The TRUTH”, Telles claimed that the German cost him the election along with “the right”. Review-Journal.
“You may think I betrayed your trust,” Teles wrote. “You may think that I am not the man I have always presented myself to be. Some of you may not be aware of all the good work I have done for Las Vegas. I hope by the end of this page you will see what I know to be true. The article was false.”
After his defeat in June, Telles announced that he would return to practice as a probate attorney.
Telles, who was seen returning home Wednesday in some sort of white jumpsuit, could not be reached for comment by The Daily Beast via Facebook, LinkedIn and text messages. He did not respond to a number listed in his name, and local reporters mentionted that he did not answer when the police returned to the scene and attempted to knock on his door in the late afternoon.
The executive editor at Review-Journal said the German had never raised concerns for his personal safety or threats against him.
“THE Review-Journal The family is devastated to lose Jeff,” executive editor Glen Cook said in a statement. “It was the gold standard of news. It’s hard to imagine what Las Vegas would be like today without his many years of shining a bright light in dark places.”
Benjamin Donlon, a former Nevada Assembly candidate, told the Daily Beast he wasn’t shocked by the news of the search warrant, saying, “It seems like everybody on the wrong side of Telles has a problem.”
“Telles is a piece of work,” he added.
Donlon, like German, was on the receiving end of Telles’ public ire as he was accused of impersonating an office official in real estate cases. The failed Republican candidate for the 16th Assembly District denied those allegations, insisting he works for a firm that works with attorneys to find heirs for estates to see if they need representation.
The Telles office is responsible for securing the property of recently deceased residents and searching for next of kin.
The county public administrator’s website currently has a banner that reads: “Please be aware that a man named Benjamin Donlon is contacting families of deceased people. He claimed to be a representative of that office. Benjamin Donlon is not and has never been an employee of the Clark County Public Administrator.”
For his part, Donlon believes the banner is still up on the county website because Telles has been “a little busy” since his re-election loss.
He added that while he didn’t speak German, he knew the journalist had an “excellent reputation in town.”
Indeed, the German was eulogized early and often posthumously by colleagues who admired his spirit and dedication to his work.
“Jeff was a persistent reporter and did this kind of work for 40 years,” said Geoff Schumacher, a former colleague of German’s at Las Vegas Sun. “He wanted the public to know about things that were going wrong or injustices that were happening.”
Schumacher is now vice president of exhibits and programs at The Mob Museum in Las Vegas. He said that over the years, the German’s reporting had rubbed some people the wrong way.
“The people whose secrets or weaknesses were revealed in his report were certainly not happy with him,” Schumacher said. “Jeff is someone who wouldn’t be afraid of something like that happening. He was fearless and stood his ground when he felt a story was right. He was ready to face the consequences. But I don’t think he ever imagined it would lead to something like this.”
However, the German was dedicated to his craft, Schumacher said.
“I think he had ink in his veins,” Schumacher said, “he was going to be a reporter from birth to death.”
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