Conflict delays Bustamonte prosecution

Twelve hours after being released from jail because the Carson City District Attorney's office could not prosecute him, Jamie Steven Bustamonte was arrested on burglary and possession of methamphetamine charges Monday night.

Justice of the Peace John Tatro dismissed attempted grand larceny charges without prejudice Monday after Deputy District Attorney Kristen Herzchel told him the District Attorney's Office has a conflict of interest.

Bustamonte, 26, was in custody in an alleged grand theft at Michael Hohl Motors on Dec. 10. He was ordered released on $1,000 bail on two unrelated misdemeanor charges.

The conflict of interest stems from the grand jury petition filed by Ron Weddell and according to court documents "is based on the fact that certain members of the district attorney's office have been named along with Jamie Bustamonte as the subject of a grand jury investigation."

District Attorney Noel Waters, along with Chief Deputy Anne Langer, Justice of the Peace Robey Willis, Deputy sheriffs Steve Johnson, Ken Sandage, Bill Callahan, Fred Schoenfeldt and Rod King, and brothers Jamie and John Bustamonte are named in a grand jury investigation alleging misconduct.

The grand jury investigation stems from a petition gathered by Ron Weddell after an October 1997 incident in which Weddell, attempting a citizen's arrest, fired four shots at a fleeing Jamie Bustamonte. Weddell claims that the arrest effort was made in response to an attempt by Bustamonte and his brother to run down an employee of Weddell's at his Arrowhead Drive construction yard. Weddell was arrested after the incident and charged with assault and firearms offenses.

Then-district judge Michael Fondi dismissed the case against Weddell, saying that under Nevada law the use of force in attempting a citizen's arrest is permitted.

Waters said the decision to dismiss the attempted grand larceny charges against Bustamonte was not one he wanted to make, but his office is unable to pursue criminal complaints against him.

"Because of the grand jury existing, I have to get some other DA's office to handle it. We're having a hard time finding someone," he said.

"Nobody's throwing (Bustamonte) any bones or anything, it's simply a matter of we can't do it, we can't act upon it. We have to have either a preliminary hearing or cut him lose. If you cut him lose before the prelim, legally we can recharge him," Waters said.

Bustamonte was arrested Monday at around midnight after a woman said her home had been broken into and jewelry and checks were missing. A man was seen leaving the garage of the home and according to sheriff's reports, said to the victim, "Don't come near me, I have a gun."

The victim identified the suspect as "Jamie" but could only give a description and did not know his last name.

After being shown a photo of Bustamonte, the victim identified him as the man seen leaving her garage.

During a search at the jail, a plastic baggie of suspected methamphetamine was found in his sock. Bustamonte was booked for burglary and possession of methamphetamine.


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