Decision expected on Doyle theft case

Decision expected on Doyle theft case
Washoe District Judge James Hardesty will likely submit his ruling on Reno City Councilwoman Sherrie Doyle’s campaign-finance theft case in a few days, said Lawry Walker, Dept. 9 administrative assistant.

“We don’t have a decision yet,’ she said. “It is in process, we know what the answer is going to be, but I can’t tell you.’

Walker said that every free moment of Hardesty’s time these days has been devoted to ironing out difficulties between Reno, Sparks and Washoe County. In recent weeks, Judge Hardesty has been mediating differences with the new regional plan.

“All the other submits have kind of been in holding pattern,’ she said. Walker said the decision is imminent, “If not the end of this week, then next week.’

The issue before the court is whether the Washoe County Grand Jury had enough evidence to indict Doyle on 16 felony counts of theft from her own election committee and from individual contributors. Judge Hardesty said, during a July 12 hearing, that he would file a written decision on the matter. Doyle’s trial, depending on Hardesty’s ruling, is scheduled for Dec. 16.

Doyle lost her re-election bid in the primary.

The case against Doyle arose because of a February 2000 Reno News & Review story that outlined possible campaign violations made by Doyle in her successful 1998 campaign.

Reno Police Chief Jerry Hoover and Al Hesson, a former Reno government critic, filed requests for investigation with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office. That office referred the investigation to the Nevada Department of Investigation within days of the story’s publication. In January 2001, the completed investigation was returned to the secretary of state. In May 2001, the case was sent to the Attorney General’s Office for possible prosecution. On April 10, the Washoe County Grand Jury indicted Doyle on charges that she stole money from her campaign committee and individual contributors. Doyle has now spent 32 months of her 48-month term in office under a cloud of accusation.

At the July hearing, Judge Hardesty castigated Deputy Attorney General David Thompson, both for the length of time the investigation took and for pursuing criminal charges. Thompson said that there were no specific criminal statutes for the prosecution of campaign finance violations, and that he didn’t believe that the Nevada Legislature intended campaigning politicians to be exempt from other state laws regarding theft.

Doyle attorney Tom Viloria said that the AG’s case was about how the councilwoman spent her money—not theft—and should be dismissed.