More details emerged Wednesday in the arrests of Nye County Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall and a longtime county volunteer named Ben Gulley.
The Nye County Sheriff’s Office released declarations of arrest for the two men, who were taken into custody Tuesday evening.
Investigators targeted the men after receiving a report on Sunday from Steven Lee, a 15-year Pahrump resident and the president of a political action committee called “Citizens to Elect an Ethical Nye County Sheriff.”
Lee says he told police he suspected Marshall and Gulley of stealing and destroying between 40 and 50 of his political signs. Many of the signs in question have the words “Anybody But Rick” printed on them and are aimed at defeating Marshall’s bid to replace outgoing Sheriff Tony DeMeo in November’s election.
Marshall was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of stolen property and resisting arrest. Gulley was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and possession of stolen property, according to police reports, which note that more charges are pending.
The men were arrested at about 7:15 p.m. at the intersection of Blagg Road and Comstock Circle. Lee says he was doing surveillance in the area, watching his signs, when he observed Marshall take an “Anybody But Rick” sign out of the ground and throw it. “He then had observed Ben Gulley pick up the sign and put the sign into their vehicle … a dark Bronco towing a trailer with Rick Marshall campaign signs in the back.”
A patrol deputy made a vehicle stop on the Bronco Marshall was driving. Gulley said he was shocked when a least half a dozen other sheriff’s cars descended onto the scene, deputies pulling their weapons and ordering the men out of the truck.
Gulley, 76, told the Pahrump Valley Times that he was sure he and Marshall were going to be shot.
“They hollered ‘don’t move, don’t move’ and I seen them take their guns out. I put my hands up, but I couldn’t put them up because I was sitting there and I thought, ‘they’re going to shoot us!’” he said. “I said what the f—k is going on Rick, they’re going to shoot us. Then I started to open the door and I just fell on the ground with my hands open.”
Gulley, who has worked as an unpaid volunteer for the sheriff’s office for more than 10 years, said the experience was terrifying, that he’s never been in trouble with law and so was shocked at the level of violence displayed.
“They’re hollering at Rick, ‘Get out the car, Rick, get out the car!’ And then Boruchowitz (Det. David Boruchowitz) told them to bring me back to him and he starts screaming at me, ‘you know you really hurt me, you know you’re making me do this!’ I said do what? I said what are you talking about?” Gulley said.
The volunteer said while he was being questioned by the detective at the scene he saw deputies get physical with Marshall.
“I heard him say ‘no. no, they’re too tight,’ when they were putting the handcuffs on him and when I turned around they were manhandling him. They were throwing him around and I was like ‘what are you guys treating Rick like that for? What are you doing? Why are you doing this to him?’ Last time I seen him they threw him into the back of the car and he hit his head. I said ‘you guys can’t do this, you can’t do this to him!”
According to Marshall’s arrest report, deputies allege it was he who got physical first.
“He attempted to use his feet to take deputies off balance and grabbed onto the metal bar on the trailer in an attempt to prevent them from putting his hands in handcuffs,” the report reads. “Subsequently, once placed in the vehicle he used his feet to keep NCSO deputies from closing the door.”
Gulley said he and Marshall were originally booked into the Nye County Detention Center on multiple felony charges. But after sitting in jail for a few hours, the two were released about 9 p.m. on their own recognizance by a Justice of the Peace; the felony charges were replaced with misdemeanors and lower bail amounts. A check of jail records showed Marshall’s bail was $3,780 and Gulley’s was $3,140.
Gulley was placed on administrative leave Wednesday. He was forced to return a sheriff’s vehicle and items he normally used in the line of duty — Gulley often served as a transport person for criminal evidence as well as performing other tasks, including running the sheriff’s prescription drug disposal program.
He said he will not be returning to the NCSO regardless of the outcome of the criminal case against him.
“They want me to sit for an IA (internal affairs investigation). I told them I won’t be coming back,” he said.
Gulley refused to discuss the allegations that he stole or destroyed Lee’s signs, saying that he needed to talk to a lawyer first.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong. I just don’t know. I’m confused. If I did something wrong, I want a court to tell me. I will take any punishment I deserve,” he said.
He said he did not witness Marshall destroying or taking any signs.
Lee says he caught the two men on video tape.
Sources tell the Pahrump Valley Times that Marshall was also placed on administrative leave by DeMeo, who is traveling outside the country. However, Marshall, who was left in charge in DeMeo’s absence, was able to convince DeMeo to change his mind.
Lt. Frank Jarvis, when reached for comment, said he could not release any details beyond what was contained in Marshall’s declaration of arrest, per DeMeo’s orders. A phone call to DeMeo was not returned.
Marshall was back at work Wednesday morning. In fact, he showed up at the sheriff’s office after being released from jail, sending Boruchowitz into a tailspin, say multiple sources not authorized by the sheriff to speak to the press.
Sources say that Marshall will release a statement soon explaining his position and why he took the signs down. At least three local Realtors have provided letters to Marshall advising that they gave the candidate permission to remove “Anybody But Rick” signs from properties under their management.
Jan Jensen owns the Maverick Saloon and Dance Hall as well as a local manufacturing company. She said she gives candidates who wish to put positive signs on her property permission to do so. But she says she does not allow signs that contain negative messages.
“I don’t want any negative stuff up there. If you are running for office and you put your sign up and somebody puts up something negative, you can take it down. I gave them my permission. No one had my permission to put negative stuff on my property,” she said. “The problem with this country is there’s too much negative. We need to be positive.”
Lee said he was never contacted by any landowners or Realtors about his signs not being allowed.
When told Marshall was back at work after his arrest, Lee said he was not surprised.
“I don’t believe in his ethics. A lot of people don’t believe in his ethics. And yesterday, by tearing down that sign, you know, to me it just shows that he believes he is above the law,” he said. “These things don’t apply to him.”
Lee admits that he and Marshall have had past disagreements. Lee is a former Clark County School District police officer. His now-deceased father, Don Lee, ran for Nye County sheriff twice, once in 1998 and again in 2002, Lee said. Lee said he at one point he wanted to work for Nye County and applied to become a deputy.
“Rick ran me through the ringer,” during the hiring process, Lee said. “My father ran for sheriff two times and he (Marshall) didn’t like it.”
Asked what he hopes happens as the case against Marshall moves from the jailhouse to the courthouse, Lee said he just wants the candidate to be treated like everybody else.
“He’s not above the law. We all have to abide by the same laws. It’s apparent so far that they are treating him a lot differently. I think it stinks,” he said.
Marshall faces a number of opponents in his bid for sheriff, but is clearly a leading candidate, winning the endorsement of DeMeo earlier this year. However, his campaign has been anything but smooth.
In January his son-in-law, NCSO Sgt. Michael Horn, was arrested for stealing narcotics from the sheriff’s evidence room and from at least two local residents. Horn’s criminal case is pending. Coincidentally, Gulley’s job overseeing the prescription drug disposal program, makes him a key witness in the case against Horn.
Horn’s arrest is not the only black mark on Marshall’s campaign. His brother, James Marshall, faces child pornography charges after his arrest in March 2012. His trial isn’t scheduled to take place until after the November election.
District Attorney Brian Kunzi could not be reached for comment, but sources say he is planning to turn over the cases against Marshall and Gulley to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office.