Lawmaker gets campaign funds case court date
July 22, 2011
LAS VEGAS – A former Nevada lawmaker who held elected office for 25 years once chaired a powerful Assembly committee is facing a Sept. 8 evidentiary hearing in Las Vegas on felony misuse of campaign funds charges that could get him more than 25 years in state prison.
Former Democratic state Assemblyman Morse Arberry Jr. didn’t appear in court Friday while Justice of the Peace Diana Sullivan set the preliminary hearing date, attorneys for both sides said.
The prosecutor, Deputy Nevada Attorney General Thom Gover, said Arberry was processed at the Clark County jail on the criminal charges. He remained free without bail.
Arberry’s lawyer, George Kelesis, said later that even before getting a look at the state’s case he was confident evidence will show that Arberry did nothing illegal.
“We haven’t received discovery, but I believe that based on the evidence he has not committed a crime,” Kelesis said.
Arberry, 58, a former mortgage company owner, was first elected to the Assembly in 1984. He served for 14 years as chairman of the powerful Assembly Ways and Means Committee. He resigned in 2010, just before he was set to leave office because of term limits, to become a lobbyist.
A criminal complaint filed June 24 accuses Arberry of six felonies, including perjury and offering a false instrument for filing. It alleges he funneled more than $120,000 in campaign funds to personal accounts. If convicted of all charges, he could face up to 27 years.
Arberry is accused of lying on three separate campaign contribution and expense reports by failing to report more than 100 contributions greater than $100 during the 2008 election cycle.
Those contributions came from donors including casino companies, banks, a gold mining company, real estate agents, firefighters and teacher unions.