Douglas County kidnapping doctor to go before parole board

A former Carson City emergency room physician will make a plea to the parole board next week to release him on charges he kidnapped and drugged his estranged wife in 2002.

In his first time before the board, Richard Conte, 58, has completed a sentence of 72 months on a charge of administering a drug in the commission of a felony. At the same time he's also served the minimum of 72 months on the charge of kidnapping, making him eligible for parole.

With the good time behavior he has accrued since his June 2002 incarceration, Conte will expire his sentences in August 2011, said David Smith, Nevada Parole Board spokesman.

The one-time Carson-Tahoe Hospital doctor pleaded guilty to kidnapping Lark Gathright-Elliott from Salt Lake City, drugging her, and bringing her back to his home in northern Douglas County on June 21, 2002.

The couple had been married in December 2001, but Gathright-Elliott filed for divorce 90 days later.

On June 19, 2002, Conte drove to Utah, and waited inside his estranged wife's house armed with a handgun and stun gun.

Gathright-Elliott said he forced her to drink a "cocktail" of tranquilizer, cough syrup and vodka. She said she was unconscious for much of the 300-mile trip to Nevada and awoke handcuffed to his bed.

He released her on June 21, 2002, after her daughter called police when she became suspicious of Conte's behavior during a phone call and deputies were arriving at his Clear Creek Road home.

At the time of his arrest, Conte became a suspect in the May 2002 murder of Gathright-Elliott's ex-husband, Carter Elliott, and Carter Elliott's employee Timothy Robertson, in Conway, Ark. When police contacted Conte at his Clear Creek home, they found a map to Carter Elliott's home on Conte's computer. No charges have ever been filed against Conte in the case, and the murders remain unsolved.

In 2006 District Judge Dave Gamble denied Conte's request to have his conviction overturned on the grounds of ineffective counsel.

Conte is among 12 others to appear for the parole board on June 17. The hearings begin at 8:30 a.m. Conte will appear via video conference from Northern Nevada Correctional Center and the victim in the case is expected to testify against his release before the parole board at the office on Old Hot Springs Road.


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