A judge on Tuesday dismissed five felony counts against a man indicted by the Carson City grand jury, saying a private citizen's complaint was not enough to overcome a three-year statute of limitations on filing charges.
Jaime Bustamante, 26, had been accused of felony assault with a deadly weapon, battery with a deadly weapon, trafficking, possession and sales of a controlled substance stemming from a 1997 incident.
"Because more than three years has lapsed before the indictment was returned, the court is mandated to dismiss the counts on the statute of limitations," said District Judge Mark Gibbons.
"A citizen's complaint is insufficient to (postpone) the statute of limitations. Additional charges would have to be filed within the three years by either the district attorney or the Attorney General's Office," added Gibbons, a Las Vegas judge assigned to hear the case.
Bustamante was one of three people indicted by a grand jury, which was convened after Carson City resident Ron Weddell circulated petitions. Weddell claimed the Carson City District Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Department had refused to press charges against Bustamante in connection with the 1997 incident in Weddell's construction yard when a man was run down by a vehicle.
He attempted to file a criminal complaint in February 1998 against Bustamante and his brother, Johnny, and it was refused. On Sept. 14, 2000, Judge Bill Maddox ordered the complaint filed by the clerk.
In November, Weddell filed an additional complaint accusing District Attorney Noel Waters, Chief Deputy District Attorney Anne Langer and six deputies with various crimes for not pursuing the case.
Weddell then sponsored a petition circulated to convene a grand jury to investigate the Sheriff's Department, District Attorney's Office and the Bustamantes.
With over 4,205 signatures verified, a special grand jury was seated March 13 and returned indictments against the Bustamante brothers and Langer on June 21. The charge against Langer of intimidating a witness was dismissed Sept. 10 by Gibbons, who said no crime had been committed.
In court Tuesday, special prosecutor Terri Roeser argued Weddell's complaint should delay the statute of limitations on the five felony indictments against Bustamante. But Gibbons disagreed.
"It's a felony case, so it has to be (done by) a law enforcement agency. It's something that is delegated by law," Gibbons said. "I just have to rule on the law as the law is."
Weddell said he was stunned by the dismissal.
"I continue to be amazed with the incompetence and arrogance of some of our public officials," he said.
The grand jury cost Carson City taxpayers an estimated $90,000 and was convened for about four months.
"Had I known, or even thought, that the statute of limitations had ran on the crimes committed by the Bustamantes and others, I would not have petitioned for a grand jury," Weddell said.
"Where the idiot judge from Las Vegas got the notion that a criminal complaint filed by a private citizen doesn't toll the statute of limitations is probably the same place he got the idea that Anne Langer was owed an apology from the people of Carson City who indicted her," he said.
Jaime Bustamante remained in Carson City jail on Tuesday on an unrelated charge. Johnny Bustamante, who still faces similar charges from the Carson City grand jury, is in a California prison.