Trooper Who Caused Fatal Accident Gets Sweetheart Deal Despite Exceeding State Limit for POT

Nevada’s NRS 484C.430 is A Crappy Law,

If You’re a Stripper,

If You’re a Cop, Well, Not So Much.

The former Nevada Highway Patrol sergeant who caused a fatal three-vehicle accident in 2008 entered into a negotiated plea agreement that will limit his potential prison term to no more than 6 years. Edward Lattin, a 22-year NHP veteran who, as a sergeant supervised a team that investigates fatal crashes, recently entered a guilty plea to a single count of felony reckless driving causing death.

NHPtrooperEdward Lattin

Former NHP Trooper Edward Lattin

The 51-year-old Lattin, who police say had more marijuana in his system than state law permits while driving, was originally indicted under the same controversial Nevada law under which Jessica Williams was convicted following her 2000 accident that left six teenagers dead. The law’s controversy stemmed, in large part, due to the legal issues that allowed the jury to acquit Williams of driving under the influence of a controlled substance while still convicting her of driving with that same prohibited substance in her blood. Although the jurors determined Williams was not impaired, they also found that Williams had more than 2 nanograms of marijuana per milliliter in her blood. Williams’s appeal was upheld by the state Supreme Court which ruled the law did not require the driver to be impaired.

That is what makes Lattin’s plea all the more troubling. Lattin was indicted under NRS 484C.430 based on the testimony by authorities that blood drawn from the off-duty trooper immediately after the fatal crash tested positive for marijuana at a level of 5.6 nanograms per millilitre. Lattin faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Section 2 of NRS 484C.430 contains a unique provision.

“A prosecuting attorney shall not dismiss a charge of violating the provisions of subsection 1 in exchange for a plea of guilty…to a lesser charge or for any other reason unless the attorney knows or it is obvious that the charge is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proved at the time of trial. ”

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Assistant District Attorney Bruce Nelson

After announcing the plea agreement in open court, prosecutor Bruce Nelson said the Clark County District Attorney’s office negotiated the case with Lattin because the blood test alone could not prove the former Trooper was impaired at the time of the crash, which seemed a rather odd assertion. Considering Nelson was the prosecutor who had previously convicted Williams under the same statute without proving she was impaired, this can’t be dismissed as simply gaff by prosecutors. It’s seems an obvious case of special treatment.

This plea agreement, which the statute clearly does not allow, will most likely allow Lattin to spend a mere fraction of the time Williams received for each one of her counts despite the facts of the cases being nearly identical. This comes as no surprise considering how Lattin’s case was dealt with in an entirely different manner than Williams from the very beginning.

ying vehicle

Scene from the 2008 Crash caused by Lattin

Williams was placed in custody immediately following her accident and remained at the CCDC through her trial, unable to raise a bond of nearly $1,000,000 per victim. Lattin, on the other hand, was not arrested for nearly a month after his accident, and spent only a few days in jail after a judge set his bond at only $50,000 or about 20 times less than bond was set for the similar counts against Williams after his attorneys argued he deserved consideration because of his job with the NHP. This allowed Lattin’s defense team to request continuance after continuance while the former trooper remained free,, and perhaps that frustration lead Nelson to ignore the law and offer Lattin what essentially is a slap on the wrist.

Lattin, could be sentenced to probation or face one to six years in prison at a sentencing hearing set for June 3 before District Judge Kathleen Delaney.

Henderson Police Officer Charged With DUI After Accident

Officer On Paid Administrative Leave

After Being Arrested for DUI

Stemming From Accident

An off-duty Henderson police sergeant was arrested January 11th for suspicion of driving under the influence.

HPD Sgt. Lisa Mattingly

HPD Sgt. Lisa Mattingly

Henderson Sgt. Lisa Mattingly was arrested booked into the Henderson Detention Center following a two vehicle traffic accident shortly before 10 p.m. The accident, which occurred near the intersection of Gibson Road and Horizon Ridge Parkway was described as minor.

Officers responding to the scene deemed Mattingly was intoxicated and charged her with DUI First Offense and Following Too Closely, both misdemeanors.

Mattingly, an 11-year veteran of the Henderson Police Department, was paid $158,941.72 in total pay and benefits in 2011.

Metro Officer’s Arrest For D.V. and DUI Makes us Wonder–Does Sheriff Gillespie Know the Definition of “Transparency”

Transparency:

trans·par·en·cy noun \tran(t)s-ˈper-ən(t)-sē\

having visibility or accessibility of information…

Nearly four months after being stopped for speeding with an alleged blood alcohol level of .22, a Metro Corrections officer was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence and driving on a revoked license. Additionally, Jason Grove, a 16 year veteran of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, was charged with Domestic violence during his Thursday arrest.

CCDC Jailer Jason Grove faces DV and DUI charges.

Grove, 47, was allegedly stopped in late April for speeding when, according to police reports, he failed field sobriety tests. Authorities further allege Grove had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit during the April incident, but have released no additional details on the DUI incident or the events which lead to his being charged with Domestic Violence.

Why Metro waited nearly four months before arresting Grove or releasing the DUI incident to the public has not been explained, but does seem in direct contradiction to Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s continued promise to ensure Metro maintains a reputation of integrity, transparency and community inclusion, a promise first made after Gillespie was caught lying to the public about the crash that took the life of Metro Officer James Manor. Gillespie was emphatic for days after the 2009 crash that Manor and a fellow officer had their lights and sirens on as they sped down Flamingo road at speeds exceeding 100 mph in the moments before Manor collided with Calvin Darling, an employee in the Bellagio’s engineering department  who was just trying to make it home alive after his work shift. He maintained this position despite numerous witnesses who came forward to contradict Metro’s account.

James Manor

Darling was immediately blamed for the accident, his heroic efforts to try to save Manor from his burning vehicle ignored, and he was immediately charged with driving under the influence despite a blood alcohol level less than 20% the legal limit. Although Darling eventually received a six figure settlement from Metro, the department did very little to fully exonerate the man vilified to protect the reputation of a reckless officer, as Gillespie’s weak “Mea culpa” below demonstrates.

I guess we should have known when the sheriff’s first display of Metro’s new level of transparency was to withhold the name of the second officer speeding in the dark of night without lights or sirens alerting fellow drivers. This was also the driver that initially told the “lie heard ’round the valley,” set up the innocent Darling to be arrested, painted a villain, an enemy of law enforcement. A reputation that stuck, as even today, the blame for the accident is placed on Darling on the police memorial sites such as Policeone.com, and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

So are we supposed to take Gillespie’s decision to keep this story from the public the same way we should take his silence about the department’s recent backroom deal to let the Drunk Driving Detective, Timothy Nicothodes, receive a medical retirement rather that the customary termination that most cops turned convicted felons are awarded.

Or better yet, Gillespie should just let us all know what his personal definition of “TRANSPARENCY” is because he sure doesn’t seem to have the same one the rest of the English-speaking world does.

Grove is currently on paid administrative leave pending both criminal and internal investigations. In 2011 taxpayers shelled out $141,771.97 in total pay & benefits to C.O. Grove.

A Tragic Thing Happened on The Way To The Strip Club — Sentencing Ends Detective’s Metro Career But Not His Paycheck

His Drunken Quest  For Montana Strippers

Derailed Detective’s Decade-long Career

But Nicothodes Has the Last Laugh

Former Las Vegas Metropolitan Detective Timothy Nicothodes was formally sentenced July, 12, 2012 in Yellowstone County District Court for criminal endangerment and driving under the influence. The ten-year veteran of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department saw the final chapter of his night of drunken debauchery written last week during an hour-long sentencing hearing in Montana.

Timothy Nicothodes’ Montana mug shot

According to The Billings Gazette, Judge Gregory Todd ordered Nicothodes to serve a three-year deferred sentence and pay a $3,000 fine for the felony criminal endangerment charge. In addition, Todd ordered the former detective to serve six months in jail and pay a $500 fine to satisfy the misdemeanor DUI conviction. The the convictions resulted from Nicothodes guilty plea to the DUI and “no contest” plea to the felony earlier this year. Both sentences are to run concurrently and all but the three days already served by Nicothodes were suspended.

What’s troubling is that Nicothodes, who served as a DEA agent for six years prior to joining LVMPD, was able to avoid termination for his actions. Despite Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s promise to make LVMPD a transparent agency which holds its officers accountable for their actions, Nicothodes was able to negotiate a secret deal with Metro which granted him a full medical retirement, rather than the expected termination a felony conviction mandates.

We can only speculate as to whether or not Nicothodes marriage to Deputy Chief Kathy O’Connor, Gillespie’s chief of staff, had any impact on his obtaining such a sweetheart deal.

According to police reports Nicothodes was going about 98 mph the night of May 26 when his 2002 Chevrolet Silverado pickup crashed into the back of a 2009 Ford Focus on a two-lane roadway in Yellowstone County. Evidence indicated he did not even attempted to brake, police said.

Both vehicles rolled. Nicothodes, who was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the truck, was in critical condition at the time, but has since recovered.

According to the report, the detective had a blood-alcohol content between 0.192 percent and 0.219 percent. The legal limit in Montana is 0.08 percent.

Two people in the Focus were diagnosed with soft-tissue damage and had cuts and bruises, but their injuries were non life-threatening, the report said.

Police later contacted the parents of a woman in the Focus who said they knew Nicothodes and had been with him in a bar that night, the report said.

They told police they saw him drinking “significant” amounts of alcohol as they had dinner together, including many shots and mixed drinks.

Nicothodes later asked them whether they would accompany him to the Laurel, MT strip club, Shotgun Willie’s, but they declined, police said. One saw him urinating in the parking lot before he left the bar, the report said.

Nicothodes was hired by the Metropolitan Police Department in 1999 and is married to Deputy Chief Kathy O’Connor, chief of staff to Sheriff Douglas Gillespie according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

In 2007, Nicothodes as a patrol officer shot and killed burglary suspect Joseph M. Justin after Justin pointed a gun at the officer’s partner.

Nicothodes was placed on unpaid leave when felony charges were filed against him in Montana, before he was able to receive a medical retirement,

In 2010 taxpayers paid Nicothodes $136,497.35 and an additional $88,186.71 was paid by taxpayers in 2011.