State: Gambling problem led to $250,000 theft

A Nevada Department of Transportation supply technician stationed in Fallon has been charged with using a state credit card to buy more than $250,000 worth of goods he later pawned or sold to pay for his gambling habit.

The six-count felony complaint against Tal Pierre Smith was filed Tuesday in New River Township Justice Court.

Smith is accused of making repeated illegal purchases and concealing them by altering receipts and other records from January 2010 through December 2013. According to the complaint and declaration of probable cause, the pattern was discovered when a chain saw was delivered to NDOT’s Fallon facility while Smith was on a hunting vacation. NDOT officials discovered that the invoice had been altered, and an investigation was ordered.

Attorney General’s Investigator Wayne Fazzino said in his declaration that he interviewed Smith, who “admitted using the NDOT purchase card to purchase items that he kept for personal use and/or sold for gambling monies.”

“Smith informed me he has a gambling problem and that he used the monies he generated from NDOT purchases to fund his gambling addition,” the court document charges.

Fallon police assisting in the investigation generated a list of 76 transactions by Smith at pawnshops and secondhand equipment businesses throughout Western Nevada.

In addition, the records state investigators recovered more than a dozen tools from Smith’s property that he had kept.

Auditors who went through all the receipts from that credit card say the total amount taken was $250,639.

Each of the four theft charges is a Category B felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison. Misconduct by a public officer and fraudulent appropriation of property are both significantly lower charges even though both are felonies.

Court officials say a warrant has been issued for Smith’s arrest, but no hearing date has been set.


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