Democrat Robert Telles, Clark County’s public administrator, was taken into custody by a police Swat team on Wednesday – hours after investigators served a search warrant and confiscated vehicles (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal/AP)
08 September 2022

Public official arrested in US after reporter who investigated him is killed

08 September 2022

An elected public official in the Las Vegas area of the US has been arrested on suspicion of stabbing to death a veteran newspaper reporter who investigated him.

Democrat Robert Telles, Clark County’s public administrator, was taken into custody by a police Swat team on Wednesday – hours after investigators served a search warrant and confiscated vehicles.

The 45-year-old had been the focus of Jeff German, a Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter who wrote about complaints of administrative bullying, favouritism, and Telles’s relationship with an aide in the county office, which handles the property of people who die without a will or family.

The newspaper’s executive editor, Glenn Cook, said “the arrest of Robert Telles is at once an enormous relief and an outrage for the Review-Journal newsroom”.

Jeff German, investigative reporter, was stabbed to death at the weekend (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal/AP) (AP)

“We are relieved Robert Telles is in custody and outraged that a colleague appears to have been killed for reporting on an elected official,” Mr Cook said.

Telles did not immediately respond on Wednesday to telephone messages at his county office, and it was not immediately clear following his arrest if he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

The county administrator office was closed.

Mr German joined the Review-Journal in 2010 after more than two decades at the Las Vegas Sun, where he was a columnist and reporter who covered courts, politics, labour, government and organised crime.

A police officer stands near the front door of Robert Telles’s house in Las Vegas (John Locher/AP) (AP)

Telles, a lawyer in probate and estate law, won his elected position in 2018, replacing a three-term public administrator.

He lost his June party primary election to assistant public administrator Rita Reid.

His term expires on December 31.

In the weeks before the election, Mr German bylined reports about an office “mired in turmoil and internal dissension” between longtime employees and new hires under Telles’s leadership.

Telles blamed “old-timers” for exaggerating the extent of his relationship with a female staffer and falsely claiming he mistreated them.

“All my new employees are super happy and everyone’s productive and doing well,” he told the newspaper.

Telles, right, talks to Mr German in his Las Vegas office on May 11 2022 (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal/AP) (AP)

“We’ve almost doubled the productivity in the office.”

Telles later posted Twitter complaints about Mr German, the Review-Journal reported, including claims in June he was a bully and “obsessed” with him.

Mr German, a reporter with a reputation for tenacity, was working on follow-up reports, the newspaper said on Wednesday, and recently filed public records requests for emails and text messages between Telles and three other county officials including Ms Reid and consultant Michael Murphy.

Mr Murphy, the former Clark County coroner hired to address complaints about leadership in the public administrators’ office, did not immediately respond to a telephone message.

Mr German’s body was found on Saturday morning outside his home.

Police said he was apparently killed on Friday and characterised the attack as an isolated incident.

Telles washes his car outside his home on Tuesday September 6 2022 in Las Vegas (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal/AP) (AP)

The Clark County coroner said Mr German died of “multiple sharp force injuries” and ruled the case a murder.

After police asked on Monday for public help to identify a suspect, developments came quickly.

On Tuesday, officers showed a brief video of a possible suspect walking on a pavement clad in bright orange “construction attire”, and distributed a photo of a distinctive red or maroon GMC Yukon Denali SUV with chrome handles, a sunroof and a luggage rack, saying it may have been linked to the case.

Telles was seen in newspaper photos washing a similar vehicle parked on his driveway on Tuesday, and KTNV-TV reported the vehicle was towed away after police arrived on Wednesday.

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