Process begins to find Tiregate grand jurors |

Process begins to find Tiregate grand jurors

A call for Douglas County grand jurors to investigate the $1 million tire thefts from the county was issued by District Judge Tod Young on Monday.

About 300 questionnaires will be prepared to be mailed to randomly selected residents.

Unlike regular jury duty, residents may refuse to serve on the grand jury. The court is looking for 36 people willing to serve — 17 actually on the jury, and the rest as alternates.

Unlike the 2017-18 grand jury, this panel’s charge is solely focused on the investigation into the theft of tires from the county.

Grand jurors will benefit from a 99-page report issued by the Nevada Division of Investigation and the work done by their predecessors.

Douglas County commissioners approved $100,000 to pay for the grand jury investigation. One of the first things the court must do is appoint an independent attorney to serve the role as prosecutor.

That role would normally be filled by the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office, but because the office took on the internal investigation, it isn’t allowed to participate in the criminal case.

The county had hoped the Nevada Attorney General’s Office would prosecute the case, but nearly four months after state investigators completed their probe, that office declined to prosecute anyone.

It was a month after that Dec. 21, 2018, letter that the county learned from The Record-Courier the state would not proceed in the case.

County commissioners sent letters to the state and U.S. attorney generals and the FBI seeking prosecution in the case, but didn’t get any bites.

The thefts were conducted by Motor Pool Director Chris Oakden over the course of a half-dozen years.

Oakden purchased tires using county funds that didn’t fit any county vehicle and sold them to pay for cruises and gambling junkets.

He also sold tires to other county employees under the guise of using a county discount.

State prosecutors determined that Oakden’s April 24, 2017, death rendered the case moot.

Grand jurors may call witnesses, conduct and investigation and, if warranted, issue indictments.