Augustine family says no word yet from FBI | NevadaAppeal.com

Augustine family says no word yet from FBI

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal Phil Alfano, left, brother of deceased state controller Kathy Augustine, answers questions during a family press conference to thank Augustine's supporters Wednesday at the Capitol. Dion Gazzaruso, right, Augustine's cousin, listens.
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The family of deceased former Nevada controller Kathy Augustine says they have still received no word from the FBI about what caused her sudden death July 11.

Her brother Phil Alfano and cousin Dion Gazzaruso told reporters Wednesday the family is still waiting for the toxicology report they hope will explain why an apparently healthy 50 year old died of a massive heart attack when an autopsy found no evidence of serious heart disease.

“Our purpose here was to thank the people who stood by her,” said Alfano outside the state Capitol.

But he and Gazzaruso had harsher words for the state Republican Party, which passed a resolution attempting to bar anyone impeached in office from running as a GOP candidate, and for state Chairman Paul Adams who tried to block her from running as a Republican for treasurer.

“She was genuinely hurt by the way she was treated by members of her own party,” Gazzaruso said.

They said the more than 26,000 people who voted for her in the primary for state treasurer despite her death were supporting the right of the people, not the party, to choose their candidates.

“Whether you support my sister or not, (GOP voters) don’t want the right to choose a candidate taken away from them,” Alfano said.

“If we do that, we’re back to the 19th century.”

Augustine was impeached by the Assembly two years ago over allegations she misused state property and her staff in her re-election campaign.

The Senate convicted her on one of three counts and issued a censure letter.

Despite the impeachment, Augustine filed for state treasurer this year saying the people would decide whether the impeachment was trumped up or legitimate.

Gazzaruso said he understands the rumors suggesting foul play in her death, and that Augustine and her husband were having serious marital problems.

“It’s a good, juicy story,” he said. “It’s a CSI case.”

He said there is no truth to the reports they were having problems and considering divorce. He also said the family has had no contact with husband, Chaz Higgs, since her burial.

Higgs has been the target of some suspicion by those who believe there was foul play in Augustine’s death, but police have not described the case as a criminal investigation.

Gazzaruso said the family, like everyone else, will just have to wait for the FBI’s report on a cause of death.

Alfano said the primary beneficiary of Augustine’s estate is her 27-year-old daughter, Dallas Augustine. He said he is executor of the estate and hasn’t seen any major insurance policy or other such surprise at this point, but that Augustine does have two houses and some other assets.

He said part of his problem in defining her estate is some records won’t be opened to him until after the family receives a death certificate – which won’t occur until the FBI report is issued and the examination of her death closed.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.