Commissioners ask judge for grand jury
March 21, 2019
Convening a grand jury for the specific purpose of investigating the theft of more than $1 million in tires and parts from the county is up to the district judges, county commissioners heard on Thursday.
"The county commission does not convene a grand jury," Commission Chairman Barry Penzel. "We ask that it be convened. If a grand jury is not convened, we still have this issue to deal with."
Deputy District Attorney Doug Ritchie said the statute under which the letter requesting a grand jury was to deal with a specific issue, which may help reduce the cost.
A grand jury can subpoena witnesses and issue indictments.
"We don't have the authority to do investigations as a board and take testimony," Penzel said. "A grand jury seems to be the proper channel to get a citizens group."
Commissioner Wes Rice said he felt a grand jury was the best way to deal with prosecuting the thefts.
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"We need to put the matter to rest," he said. "The sooner we do it the better. For those who want a citizens panel outside of the county venue, this is the perfect way to do it."
Commissioners also endorsed three letters to state and federal officials asking to restart the investigation into the thefts.
Those letters are addressed to the Nevada Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The letters to federal authorities include the assertion that the Nevada Division of Investigation summary report indicates that many of the tires purchased in the thefts were sold across state lines.
Members of the public backed the request for a grand jury.
Genoa resident Jim Hartman said the state report is thorough and includes specific findings about possible criminal activity.
"There was a very forthcoming and specific report that fell into a black hole," he said.
Carson Valley resident Lynn Muzzy said he felt the grand jury is the best way to clear the air.
"The Tiregate aftermath hangs unfairly over all Douglas County employees," he said.
Gardnerville Ranchos resident Terry Faff said he was ready for the Tiregate to be put to rest.
"If this is going to be an end to it, then let it be an end," Faff said of a grand jury. "I'm deathly sick of Tiregate."
Commissioners voted to table a request to hire an investigator to deal with the District Attorney's Office to compete the internal investigation.