Ex-Nev. lawmaker takes plea in campaign funds case
LAS VEGAS – A longtime former Nevada state assemblyman pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single misdemeanor charge in a deal with the state attorney general that eliminated six felony misuse of campaign funds charges and kept him out of jail, but will cost him more than $120,000 in restitution.
Morse Arberry Jr., 58, a Democrat from Las Vegas, and his lawyer, Mark Bailus, said nothing to reporters outside a Las Vegas courtroom after Arberry entered his plea to fraudulent appropriation of property. In a written pleading, he admitted using campaign funds for personal use.
The plea deal eliminated six felony perjury and offering a false instrument charges that could have gotten the 25-year state Assembly member up to 27 years in state prison.
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Diana Sullivan warned Arberry that she will send him to county jail for six months if he fails to stay out of trouble or misses paying at least $100 a month toward the $121,545 restitution figure over the next year, plus his $1,000 fine.
Sullivan said she’ll issue a judgment at the end of the year requiring Arberry to pay the unpaid balance.
The prosecutor, Senior Deputy Attorney General Thom Gover, said the goal with the plea deal was to gain a criminal, rather than civil, conviction.
Arberry is a former mortgage company owner first elected to the Assembly in 1984. He served for 14 years as chairman of the powerful Assembly Ways and Means Committee and resigned in 2010 to become a lobbyist, just before he was set to leave office because of term limits.
The criminal complaint filed against him June 24 accused him of lying on three separate campaign contribution and expense reports by failing to report more than 100 contributions greater than $100 during the 2008 election cycle.
Those contributions came from donors including casino companies, banks, a gold mining company, real estate agents, firefighters and teacher unions.