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Nye County sees high turnover rate among DA’s

Anyone with a law degree, looking to embark on a long career prosecuting alleged criminals should think twice about running for the Nye County District Attorney’s Office seat.

Over about the past 10 years, there has been a remarkable turnover rate associated with that position, so says Nye County Deputy District Attorney Michael Vieta-Kabell.

Vieta-Kabell began his career in the DA’s office back in May of 2009, and since that time, he’s worked for no less than four district attorneys in Nye County.

Come November, it appears that he will have yet another boss.

“If my memory serves me well, that will be five different district attorneys that I have worked under in close to 10 years,” he said. “That kind of fascinated me once I stepped back and thought about it. I haven’t gone through and looked at every county in the U.S., but I would be shocked if you found another one like it. Maybe there are one or two other places where there’s been such turnover like what we have seen here in Nye County. I think a few unique circumstances contributed to the turnover rate here over the years.”

Unique indeed

When Vieta-Kabell started with the DA’s office, his boss was none other than Nye County District Attorney Bob Beckett, who was elected to the position back in 1994.

He left office roughly 16 years later under clouds of controversies.

In 2008, Beckett crashed two vehicles in six hours on the same stretch of California highway.

He eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless driving and agreed to complete a class on the dangers of alcohol and automobiles.

Beckett lost his DA position in the June 2010 Republican primary, when he finished last out of five candidates.

New blood

After Beckett’s departure, Vieta-Kabell said Nye County Criminal Chief Deputy District Attorney Kirk Vitto served as interim district attorney, until voters elected Brian Kunzi to the position.

“Mr. Kunzi was elected and he served one term,” Vieta-Kabell recalled. “I thought he did an excellent job, but he was soundly defeated by my current boss, Angela Bello. I really appreciated Angela and enjoyed working with her, but she lost in a squeaker during the primary election back in June of this year.”

Friends and strangers

Come November’s general election, Vieta-Kabell will have yet another boss.

He noted the position will be held by either Chris Arabia, who defeated Bello in June’s primary election, or challenger Nicholas Del Vecchio. “I do not know Mr. Del Vecchio at all, but I have worked with Mr. Arabia, who started working out here I believe the same year as I did back in 2009,” Vieta-Kabell said. “I remember first meeting Chris and we were both fresh, green young attorneys, and I believe we are still kind of fresh and green in a few ways. I’m looking forward to working with him as well and I think he will do a great job. But when you think about it, it is kind of amazing regarding all of the turnover we have seen in the county, over the past 10 years.”

High regards

Notwithstanding the apparent high turnover rate, Vieta-Kabell also said he maintains a great amount of respect for those who have served in the position during his tenure.

“Despite Mr. Beckett’s many flaws where he had wandered off the path, at the same time I could tell that deep down inside that Bob was a good person,” he said. “He worked through his issues and I wish him the best. Mr. Kunzi did an excellent job out here as well. Since I have been here, the people who have come in and served Nye County as district attorney, have done nothing but good things for this county. I have been really happy to have worked for all of them.”

Rest assured

Additionally, Vieta-Kabell said the citizens of Nye County should maintain their confidence in the district attorney’s office’s ability to function as a well-oiled machine.

“I hope going forward, the voters of Nye County will be satisfied with the choices they make in November,” he said. “I look around and I see fewer repeat offenders and serious offenders compared to the past. That could be for a lot of reasons but I think part of it, is because the district attorneys that we have had, since I’ve been here, have really put their hearts and souls into the job and I think they have made great progress. The will of the people is always the deciding factor.”

Going the distance

Vieta-Kabell also spoke about how the terms of office holders may or may not affect their time on the job.

“It seems like the people with the shorter terms, such as two years or four years, don’t have enough time to actually become truly great at their jobs, because they are in a constant state of campaigning. Fortunately, it’s not that bad here just yet, but it seems like it’s trending that way. I would certainly like to see some retention in this office, but if it’s not in the cards, then it is what it is.”

Thanks but no thanks

Regarding his own political aspirations, Vieta-Kabell also said it’s just not in the cards, as well.

“I just can’t see myself running for Nye County district attorney,” he noted. “When I had my first criminal law class at the University of Michigan Law School, I realized that I wanted to just prosecute. This job has been great and I really enjoy working as a prosecutor, because it’s all about helping people. It’s tough, it’s difficult, and you see a lot of pain and misery, but you just get in here every day and try to relieve some of that. It’s a tough job because there is just so much to know.”

Information from the Las Vegas Review-Journal archives was used in this story.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com

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