By Mark Waite
Former Nye County Commissioner Peter Liakopoulos turned himself in at the Beatty jail last Thursday evening to begin serving a 60-day sentence for bribery.
The jail sentence was stayed by Fifth Judicial District Judge Robert Lane in October 2009 pending an appeal after a jury found the ex-commissioner guilty of offering to vote for a half-cent sales tax increase in December 2007 in exchange for having his wife seated as curator of a veteran’s memorial.
In July 2010, the Nevada Supreme Court tossed out two gross misdemeanor convictions against Liakopoulos — offering a reward for an appointment and grafting by a public officer — on the grounds they were redundant with the felony bribery conviction, which remained intact.
Liakopoulos was also sentenced to five years probation, 500 hours of community service and ordered to attend an ethics class.
It took Liakopoulos almost exactly two years after the Supreme Court decision to turn himself in to serve his time. Sheriff Tony DeMeo said Liakopoulos contacted Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall and offered to turn himself in.
“Right now we don’t have any room in the old jail. We’re getting ready to move people into the new jail soon. Usually Beatty is for the people that don’t really need supervision,” DeMeo said. “He’s going to be there washing cars for Beatty. Lt. Frank Jarvis keeps his people quite busy.”
The sheriff’s deputies detaining him are the same ones who would’ve benefitted from the passage of the half-cent sales tax, which was to provide $2.6 million annually for more sheriff’s deputies and firefighters. Liakopoulos joined northern commissioners Joni Eastley and former Commissioner Roberta “Midge” Carver to reject the tax increase at a Dec. 16, 2007 county commission meeting. The tax increase was previously approved by a slim margin of 17 votes in the November 2006 election.
After the commission vote failed, Pahrump Town Board Chairman Laurayne Murray, in an interview with the Pahrump Valley Times, said Liakopoulos told her unless his organization got the lease for the veterans’ memorial and his wife was hired as curator by the town board the half-cent sales tax was dead in the water.
DeMeo ordered an investigation based on Murray’s comments in the newspaper and information from three different sources that Liakopoulos’ vote was sold.
There were reports Liakopoulos was living in Oregon after his appeal was denied.
A Republican, Liakopoulos defeated Democrat Jan Bearrs and Dan Schinhofen, running as a non-partisan, in the November 2006 election for District 5 commissioner, but he resigned two years later.
Fely Quitevis was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to fill out the last two years of his term.
Liakopoulos had been a radio and television producer, with a show on 720 AM radio. He founded Nevada Outdoorsmen in 2001 and once wrote an outdoors column for the Pahrump Valley Times.