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Case closed for Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo

Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo responded on Wednesday to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office declining to file charges over allegations of misconduct of a public officer, among other accusations.

“I stand before you today, a relieved man, a man who feels vindicated,” Blundo said in a statement on Thursday, Feb. 4, adding, “On Jan. 27, the Attorney General Aaron Ford decided after a thorough investigation that no charges warranted being filed.”

The allegations Blundo faced arose from staff within Nye County Administration, who had filed a complaint with the Nye County Sheriff’s Office last year following the commissioner’s participation in a number of commission agenda items relating to the county’s CARES Act policy. That policy was established as a guide to direct how the county was to administer the various COVID-19 assistance programs it had created to utilize the CARES Act dollars that had been allocated to the county.

Blundo had put forward motions and voted on that policy multiple times over the course of several weeks, with the complaint stating that when doing so, with the exception of one instance, Blundo had failed to disclose the fact that he had submitted applications for rental assistance for both his personal residence and his business.

County administration members forwarded concerns that Commissioner Blundo may have violated the law that prohibits a county commissioner from voting on items in which they have a direct financial interest to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, the Nye County District Attorney’s Office, and the Nevada Ethics Commission in November via an email, a copy of which was obtained by the Pahrump Valley Times.

A complaint was filed on Nov. 12, 2020 by Nye County Manager Tim Sutton, according to an email obtained by the Times. Sutton took the action following a Nov. 10 commission meeting, he said in a statement.

In a statement, Sutton alleges Commissioner Blundo voted to give Carmelo’s Bistro $50,000 in taxpayer CARES money. Blundo is the owner of the Pahrump restaurant.

In the email, Sutton states to the sheriff’s office that Blundo voted on an item on Nov. 10 that allowed the commissioner an increase to approved funding his business had already received. Initially, the amount was $15,000 prior to the vote.

“As a business owner, Commissioner Blundo had every right to participate in the CARES program and apply for funding. As a commissioner, he had every right to set policy and monetary thresholds for CARES program recipients. The problem is that he did both, which was illegal and unethical.”

The complaint led to an investigation that culminated in Blundo’s arrest on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26.

“I never wanted to see Commissioner Blundo get arrested or go to jail,” Sutton said, “especially not on Thanksgiving Day.

“However, his conduct was wrong and needed to be brought forward. Mold grows in the dark, and I’ve done my part to shed light on this matter. It is impermissible for elected officials to vote themselves $50,000 bonuses. Whether the voters of this county or the Ethics Commission agree remains to be seen.”

Blundo following arrest

Blundo hosted a press conference the following Sunday after his arrest, during which he proclaimed his innocence. His assertion of innocence is now being borne out, as the Nevada attorney general has decided charges were not warranted in the case.

“Our office will not be moving forward with prosecution at this time,” Nevada Attorney General’s Office Communications Director Monica Moazez told the Pahrump Valley Times on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

In a Wednesday statement, Blundo said, “My family and I have gone through tremendous trials since Thanksgiving Day.”

“While my experience has been unpleasant, it did not happen in vain,” Blundo said. “I have learned a lot. I’ve learned that vindictive and malicious behavior can and does exist in government, even local government. My focus can now be back on my family, my business and the business of the people I proudly represent.”

0325 Email by Jeffrey Meehan on Scribd

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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