Parent won’t be prosecuted in Elko school board flap
ELKO – Prosecutors have decided they will not pursue charges against a Spring Creek parent who was arrested during a shouting match at an Elko County School Board meeting in November.
Conni Tricoli had faced misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace and disturbing a public meeting in the incident at Carlin.
Dale Lotspeich, who as an Elko County sheriff’s deputy and sheriff-elect at the time, initiated the arrest after Tricoli cursed at Spring Creek High School Principal Betty Fobes and her husband, Gordon Fobes.
Elko County Deputy District Attorney Troy Jordan said he believes there is no case on the charge of disrupting a public meeting and that he does not believe the disturbing the peace charge was warranted.
Tricoli said she received notice this week the charges were dropped, along with a reimbursement of $869 in bail. She said the district attorney’s office made the right decision but she’s concerned the arrest may remain on her record.
“I don’t feel it is appropriate I was arrested and I don’t feel it should follow me for the rest of my life,” Tricoli told the Elko Daily Free Press. “This is all so surreal to me. I still can’t believe it happened there.”
Jordan said in a letter to Lotspeich he felt there is no case on the disturbing a public meeting charge because First Amendment laws trump the school boards procedural rules for closing debate on an agenda item.
The district attorney’s office cannot charge Tricoli for swearing, “unless we are going to charge everyone that swears at anybody,” Jordan wrote.
In addition, he said the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld swearing in a public forum as protected speech under the First Amendment. Furthermore, the arrest was made during a break in the meeting, so the meeting could not be disrupted at that time, he said.
Jordan said the principal indicated others at the meeting approached board members in a loud and possibly threatening manner, yet no others were arrested.
“It is apparent that many people that night lost their tempers, but I do not feel this situation requires criminal action,” Jordan said.
Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, http://www.elkodaily.com