A Nye County sheriff’s detective was placed on administrative leave Sunday night after an investigation was opened into last week’s arrest of Asst. Sheriff Rick Marshall and longtime sheriff’s volunteer Ben Gulley.
Det. David Boruchowitz, himself no stranger to controversy, was placed on leave by Sheriff Tony DeMeo, insiders say. A preliminary investigation is being led by Lt. Mark Medina. Findings will be turned over to the Nevada attorney general’s office for review, sources confirmed.
The Pahrump Valley Times learned Monday that search warrants were also issued for Boruchowitz’s work phones. But an attorney for the detective disputes that, saying those warrants were illegally obtained and later rescinded.
Asked what was illegal about them, the attorney, Adam Levine, said he couldn’t elaborate.
“Because it was illegal, I don’t want to prejudice any investigation into the circumstances surrounding the warrants,” he said.
Levine disputed statements from NCSO insiders that Boruchowitz was placed on leave by DeMeo, who reportedly returned to Pahrump late Monday night but has so far refused to comment.
“It looks like he (the detective) was unlawfully put on administrative leave by Lt. Mark Medina,” Levine said. “I don’t think that Tony did this.”
Medina is a close associate and subordinate of Marshall’s who normally oversees the Nye County Detention Center. He previously served as head of the department’s internal affairs section.
Marshall and Gulley were arrested two days after a complaint was filed April 20 with the sheriff’s office by Steven Lee, president of Citizens to Elect an Ethical Nye County Sheriff. Lee’s aim is to upset Marshall’s bid to replace DeMeo in the upcoming November election. Lee reported that 40 to 50 of his “Anybody But Rick” political signs had gone missing and that he suspected Marshall and Gulley of stealing them.
Lee was surveilling his signs at various locations throughout the valley on April 22 when he videotaped Marshall pulling one sign out of the ground and throwing it in frustration. Gulley was caught stuffing two signs into the truck they were in before leaving.
Lee allegedly called Boruchowitz after witnessing this take place.
After receiving the phone call from Lee, Boruchowitz reportedly called sheriff’s dispatchers seeking back-up. He was then joined by more than a half-dozen other deputies — some traveling at high rates of speed to assist their fellow officer. Marshall and Gulley were then pulled over during a traffic stop.
At no time did Boruchowitz or the other deputies involved call a supervisor or consult with any superiors before taking Marshall and Gulley into custody.
Some deputies even drew their service weapons on the sheriff’s second in command as he was being taken into custody.
Though Boruchowtiz was not the named arresting officer, sources close to the investigation say they suspect he orchestrated the entire ordeal.
The detective declined to comment when reached Monday. He did the same Tuesday, referring questions to Levine. Marshall also declined comment. Gulley, 76, said he is weighing his legal options and believes his arrest is part of a politically-motivated conspiracy.
He said Tuesday that he believes Boruchowitz and at least one other officer involved in his arrest should be kicked off the force.
“These deputies are a danger to the community,” he said, noting he and his wife dedicated a combined 20 years of unpaid volunteer work to the sheriff’s office.
“And this is my reward.”
Boruchowitz is president of the Nye County Law Enforcement Association, a union that represents street-level deputies.
Levine said he is representing both the detective and the union in this matter. Coincidentally, Levine was DeMeo’s attorney when county commissioners asked the attorney general’s office to prosecute the sheriff in 2012 for repeatedly overspending his budget.
Levine said he and the union are planning to hold a press conference on Thursday.
After their arrests, Gulley was placed on leave, but quit his volunteer job two days later. Marshall was initially placed on leave as well, but convinced DeMeo in a phone conversation that he should continue to lead the agency in the sheriff’s absence.
Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi was asked his opinion on the move to suspend Boruchowitz and indicated that he was not consulted first.
“Any personnel action taken by the management of the Sheriff’s Office as stated in your question has been done without consultation with or approval of the District Attorney. The placement of an employee on administrative leave is a personnel matter and as such I cannot comment on this matter,” he said via email.
During an earlier email exchange, Kunzi confirmed that he was turning reports and evidence detailing Marshall and Gulley’s arrests over to the attorney general’s office.
“I have made the determination that my close working relationship with the SO command on many issues including personnel matters, which usually involves Asst. Sheriff Marshall, creates a conflict that necessitates this case be reviewed by the Attorney General. There are many aspects of how this investigation was conducted that warrant a fair degree of scrutiny that have nothing to do with any criminal charges being brought against Asst. Sheriff Marshall or Mr. Gulley. There is far more to this case than just whether $250 worth of political signs were removed and determining who is responsible,” he wrote in an email.
Kunzi also noted that potentially conflicting statements about “why and how the arrests were executed is why additional inquiry may be necessary.”
Boruchowitz is a controversial figure in Nye County law enforcement. Once considered DeMeo’s pit bull, he has fallen out of favor with top brass ever since becoming union president in 2011. Since then, he has filed dozens upon dozens of grievances against superiors, including Medina and Marshall both, claiming everything from sexual harassment of female deputies to arbitrary discipline decisions based on personal relationships.
The detective was himself arrested in May 2010 and charged with 20 felonies and five gross misdemeanors after a special prosecutor hired by Bob Beckett, then the county’s district attorney, found probable cause that the detective misused his position to target two candidates during the last sheriff’s race as well as Beckett. Beckett eventually left office after facing a host of criminal charges. The detective walked free.
Boruchowitz eventually sued the county in 2011 and again in 2012 for false arrest and other claims detailed in a still-pending federal civil lawsuit.
The detective was in the spotlight again as recently as August of last year following word he was under investigation for allegedly coercing a woman to file a false complaint with the Nye County School District against the wife of a public defender who works as a school occupational therapist. The district dropped the complaint after the witness signed an affidavit saying she made up the information at the request of the detective.
The state Public Safety Department’s division of investigations was brought in to investigate the claims. It reportedly issued a report to DeMeo earlier this year detailing its findings. DeMeo is currently weighing what, if any, actions he will take against the detective.
The PVT also learned this week that Kunzi’s office was in receipt of Boruchowitz’s NCSO personnel file, including all previous internal affairs complaints or investigations generated against him during his tenure.
Sources say that a group of defense attorneys in town requested this information from Kunzi’s office because they believe it will show that the detective deserves the designation of a “Brady cop.” The label refers to the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brady v. Maryland, which requires prosecutors to notify defendants and their attorneys whenever a police officer has a history of lying in their official capacity, either under oath, during internal affairs investigations or in the production of police reports.
If Boruchowitz is labeled a “Brady cop,” it could be a disaster for the DA’s office, which would have to dismiss cases outright or cut deals favorable to defendants in any criminal cases that rely on the detective’s testimony. Such a designation could also open the door for past convictions that relied on his testimony to be overturned.