State closes Tiregate probe |

State closes Tiregate probe

The investigation into the theft of more than $1 million in tires from Douglas County appears to have been closed without any additional prosecutions.

In a Dec. 21, 2018, letter from the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Chief Deputy Attorney General Michael C. Kovac said a case summary indicated that there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue anyone else in the case.

The Record-Courier has made a public records request to obtain that summary from the state.

Douglas County Vehicle Maintenance Director Chris Oakden was named in a grand jury report as the person responsible for selling tires he purchased through the county for personal gain.

“The detective who provided the Office of the Attorney General with the report and documentation informed the office that he did not believe that there was sufficient evidence that anyone other than Oakden committed any crimes in relation to these events,” Kovac wrote. “Given the fact that Oakden is now deceased, the Office of the Attorney General will be taking no further action and considers the matter closed.”

The state took on the criminal investigation when the thefts were uncovered in March 2017. Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson handled the internal investigation. Because county employees are compelled to cooperate in the internal probe, information developed there cannot be used in any criminal proceeding. That would have to be developed independently.

Jackson told county commissioners that three employees lost their jobs in that investigation.

Oakden was killed in an April 24, 2017, head-on collision.

County commissioners approved converting an existing accountant’s position with an accounting purchasing specialist.

“This position will assist other finance staff by preparing various account reconciliations, and will be performing regular inventories of various county goods and assets,” Chief Financial Officer Terri Willoughby said.

Commissioner Larry Walsh asked if the position would have prevented the tire thefts.

“I think it would have helped,” Willoughby said. “It’s going to put controls in place to deter things like that.”

Commissioners also approved the first reading of an update of the county’s whistleblower ordinance.

The updates removed duplicate language and clarified the appeal process, Human Resources Director Wendy Lang said.

She said the update is in accordance with the grand jury recommendations.