Judge will call Tiregate grand jury
A grand jury will be called to wrap up the investigation of $1 million in tire thefts from Douglas County.
In a letter to county commissioners, District Judge Tod Young said he was inclined to impanel a grand jury as long as county commissioners were willing to pay for it.
“I do not take this action lightly,” he said. “This undertaking may be expensive.”
Young is seeking a budget of $100,000 to cover expenses, including hiring an attorney, security, court reporters and pay jurors.
“I respect that the commissioners’ unanimous letter to me indicates that you have weighed and are willing to shoulder this expense,” he said. “On the other hand, I am very mindful of the judiciary’s budget and resources and assure you I will keep you apprised of our costs.”
Young pointed out that the 2017-18 grand jury looked into the Tiregate thefts but deliberately avoided addressing the criminal matter because the Nevada Division of Investigation was working on the case at the same time.
That investigation concluded in September 2018 and was forwarded to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, where it sat for four months before the office declined to conduct any prosecutions.
The main subject of the investigation was Motor Pool Supervisor Chris Oakden, who was killed in a head-on collision April 24, 2017, on his way to speak with state investigators about the thefts.
Oakden was accused of purchasing tires that didn’t fit any county vehicles using county money and selling them to a variety of parties.
One of his chief customers was a California resident who sold the semi-truck tires.
According to the investigation, Oakden used the proceeds to fund gambling trips and cruises far beyond what his county salary would support, according to a 99-page report prepared by state investigators
Two other county employees were fired as a result of the thefts.
The grand jury has the power to hear testimony and issue indictments, which could result in prosecutions the state declined to take on.
Young would impanel the grand jury for the “limited and specific purpose of investigating the theft and misuse of Douglas County assets.”