A petition filed Monday in district court may result in a grand jury probe of several Carson City officials accused of thwarting a resident's attempt to arrest and prosecute two men he believes tried to kidnap his daughter.
The petition brought by resident Ron Weddell calls into question the conduct of two prosecutors, a judge and five deputy sheriffs.
Attorney Day Williams, also involved in the petition drive, said 5,422 signatures were gathered. Of those, 4,205 signatures - or 25 percent of registered voters - must be confirmed as registered voters who live in Carson City for the petition to be valid.
Judge William Maddox forwarded the job of verifying the signatures to Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover, who heads voter registration for the county.
Under Nevada law, the district judge must act on the petition within five days. The law also states that if the judge fails to summon a grand jury, the petition may be forwarded to the Supreme Court for action.
"I think that any judge would be remiss in not calling a grand jury," Weddell said.
No decision had been made by Monday afternoon. If a grand jury is convened, members would be appointed from the community to assess the allegations and evidence. They would then decide whether indictments should be issued.
Officials named in the petition include:
- District Attorney Noel Waters, accused of removing a criminal complaint from a courtroom
- Chief Deputy District Attorney Anne Langer, accused of coaching witnesses
- Justice of the Peace Robey Willis, also accused of removing the complaint from the courtroom
- Deputy sheriffs Steve Johnson, Ken Sandage, Bill Callahan, Fred Schoenfeldt and Rod King, accused of obstructing prosecution of the case
Brothers James and John Bustamonte are also named in allegations of drug trafficking, kidnapping and assault.
The petition stems from an October 1997 incident in which Weddell, attempting a citizen's arrest, fired four shots at a fleeing James Bustamonte. He claims that the arrest was made in response to an attempt by Bustamonte, and his brother John, to run down an employee of Weddell's at an Arrowhead Drive construction yard.
Weddell believes the Bustamontes were looking for his daughter, Kellie Weddell, to coerce her into selling methamphetamine and giving them the money.
Weddell was arrested after the incident and charged with assault and firearms offenses. He faced a preliminary hearing in Judge Robey Willis's justice courtroom and was bound over to face the charges in district court. Then-district judge Michael Fondi dismissed the case, saying that under Nevada law the use of force in attempting a citizen's arrest is permitted.
Weddell said that further attempts to prosecute the Bustamontes on drug dealing, extortion, kidnapping, battery with a deadly weapon and offenses involving a stolen vehicle were prevented and derailed by officers of the courts.
Willis and Waters are accused in the petition with removing a criminal complaint filed by Weddell from the justice court. Langer is alleged to have coached witnesses during Weddell's preliminary hearing.
Weddell contracted National Voter Outreach to gather signatures for the petition.
Weddell, 53, a commercial contractor, will be on Tuesday's primary election ballot as an opponent to Willis for justice of the peace. Weddell announced earlier this month, however, that he was withdrawing from the race.
The last grand jury impaneled in Carson City began its work in January 1997 to examine a number of citywide issues at the request of district judges. It met 16 times over 18 months, and the cost was about $34,000.
Nevada law states that the costs of a grand jury impaneled by petition will be charged against the state's general fund.