Lander County sheriff convicted by Reno jury of taking confiscated drug funds

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RENO -- Lander County Sheriff Michael Kranovich has been found guilty of embezzling federal money returned to the county from drug seizures.

Kranovich, who was not seeking re-election to a second term, was charged with taking some $12,000 from the asset forfeiture fund. He was convicted Friday by a U.S. District Court jury following a few hours' deliberations. The trial began on Tuesday.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury July 24 on one count of taking money from the fund and another of embezzling more than $5,000 worth of government property.

He could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count, plus restitution. He was released on recognizance pending his sentencing Feb. 10.

His attorney argued the federal charges were improper because the money had been returned to the county for training, equipment and investigations, including undercover drug buys.

When the money could not be accounted for, KOLO-TV in Reno said Kranovich came up with several explanations, saying at one point some of the cash might have been thrown away along with some papers he removed from his desk.

Kranovich was elected sheriff in 1998 after joining the department in 1995. He was police chief in Carlin for eight years before then.


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