Mark Zane, a former Nye County undersheriff in the 1980s and a candidate for sheriff in 1990, announced he will run for sheriff again in 2014.
Zane is the president of Zane Investigations, a private investigative company that also does process serving, repossession and private security. He started work at the Nye County Sheriff’s Office in 1980 and was appointed undersheriff in 1983. After losing in the 1990 primary election, in which Wade Lieseke Jr. won the sheriff’s race for the first time — finishing fourth in a field of six with 851 votes — Zane went to work for then newly-elected District Attorney Bob Beckett, until county commissioners terminated his position due to budget issues. Zane filed suit in federal court after his termination and settled the case with Nye County. He also ran for Tonopah justice of the peace in 1994.
In a prepared statement, Zane said he will bring balance to the office, with his history of public service and private business. Zane said he is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and was appointed by three governors to state service.
“For the last 17 years I have been busy building successful private businesses serving public, financial, legal, insurance and government clients. Along with my partners, we are proud of our accomplishments, our employees and what we’ve been able to build,” Zane said.
“If elected, I will devote all my time and attention to the challenges of the office to bring transparency, professionalism, accountability and responsibility to the forefront. But most importantly, I will transform the emphasis of the office from a strict law enforcement entity to a public service provider that serves law enforcement duties and functions.”
Zane said he wants to instill a philosophy of public service for Nye communities. He said it’s time for “a little less SWAT and a little more sweat.” When asked to explain, Zane said the sheriff’s office is operating under too much of a paramilitary training model. He also criticized the “us vs. them” mentality in the sheriff’s department.
“Thoughtful, planned, organized and fiscally responsible administration should be the order of the day, not just throwing millions of dollars in the wind. Taxpayer money is taxpayer money, no matter where you get it from and how much is wasted,” Zane said. He added, “direct citizen involvement will be the rule, not the exception. The office will once again serve the people.”
Sheriff Tony DeMeo said he doesn’t plan to run for a fourth term; he was first elected in 2002. Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall has said publicly he intends to run for the position; Zane said he wants to provide an alternative to Marshall.
Capt. Bill Becht, whose resignation from the Nye County Sheriff’s Office took effect last week after 24 years, has endorsed Zane in the race.
In a statement dated Sept. 6 announcing his retirement, Becht wrote, the people of Nye County in 2014 will have the opportunity to elect a candidate with proven administrative ability, investigatory skills, a proven training record, a history of public service, business experience and most importantly ethical values.
“On this date of my retirement I wholeheartedly, without reservation and with absolute hope for the future, urge the citizens of the county to support the candidacy of Mark Zane as your next sheriff. I have known Mark Zane since I began my career here and without any doubt whatsoever he is the best qualified candidate that I am aware will be seeking your vote for the position of sheriff of Nye County,” Becht wrote.
Commenting on several high-profile stories involving the sheriff’s department, Zane said he didn’t expect the attorney general to prosecute DeMeo for overspending his budget, since there wasn’t the intention of malice. But he told the Pahrump Valley Times, “the sheriff and his administration have not taken an interest in the condition of the budget internally and what effect that over-expenditure would have and the fact they seem to be oblivious to where they are money-wise only seems to push blame on the comptroller. The sheriff has the responsibility to know what kind of money has been spent.”
Back in 1990, while he ran for sheriff, Zane was accused of failing to deliver habeas corpus writs in the trial of former brothel owner Joe Richards, who was indicted for attempting to bribe then county commissioner Bobby Revert with $20,000 to vote against a brothel license for Sheri’s Ranch. The charges were ultimately dismissed.
Zane said he worked for Richards on his criminal defense after his 2005 indictment for attempting to bribe another county commissioner, this time Candice Trummell, for which Richards was convicted and assessed a $250,000 fine.
Zane also said he was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly intervening against a deputy who attempted to arrest an acquaintance of his for driving under the influence of alcohol, which he said helped doom his 1990 campaign. The charges were dismissed by the attorney general’s office only two months before the primary.