The Bear Growls: District Attorney’s Office is the real culprit in fabricated charges against skilled casino patron

September 8, 2003

This news story is so disgusting, it’s hard to believe it happened in America. As a resident of Nevada, and Clark County, I’m ashamed that we have such people in public office who so blatantly and arrogantly abuse their power. Despite the checks and balances built into government, a criminal prosecution so false on the face of it, if the reporting is accurate, got to the point that a judge had to step in to terminate further harassment of a law-abiding citizen by a government agency that appears to be so overzealous, incompetent, unethical, and/or downright corrupt, that it is hard to believe, even for Nevada.

The real culprit in the horrible treatment of card counter Richard Dougherty is the District Attorney’s Office of Clark County. As bad as it may be, we expect casino employees and security guards to lie and make up stories about advantage players. Even the police officer who charged the victim of the crimes (Mr. Dougherty) rather than arresting the security guards can almost be excused, because presumably he did not see the surveillance video. He had to rely on the statements of the lying casino employees, and had to make an immediate judgment call.

But the Assistant District Attorney who actually filed the bogus charges, and the Assistant DA who tried the case should be investigated by the Nevada State Bar, and disciplined or even disbarred for breach of professional ethics. The DA’s Office had many months to review the case, watch the video, and interview the witnesses. A public prosecutor’s obligation is to justice, not to falsify cases for favored special interests, in this case Mandalay Resort Group.

For Justice of the Peace Pro Tem Melanie Tobiasson to state that there was “absolutely no credible evidence” and that “further testimony would only further impair the credibility of the witnesses,” the lying must have been terribly obvious. How is it that is was not so obvious to the Assistant DA? Of course it was, but Susan Benedict went ahead with this sham prosecution anyway, presumably because of pressure brought upon her by someone higher up in the DA’s office. What about ethics and professional responsibility? I guess they went out the door, when the pressure was put on her.

Hats off to the Court for having the integrity and fortitude to stand up to the casino bullies. We can hope that there will be an investigation of this wrongful prosecution, and that the members of the DA’s office responsible for taking this case as far as they did be appropriately punished. Perhaps the State Bar will recommend suspension or disbarring from the practice of law. They should, but I doubt if it will happen.

Will the “not credible” witnesses now be prosecuted for the crime of perjury? They should be, but I doubt if it will happen. We can hope that the Gaming Control Board or other agency responsible for the licensing of the guards revokes their privilege to work in the gaming industry and the security guard industry. They should, but I doubt if it will happen.

We can hope that Mandalay Resort Group will fire every employee involved in this sordid incident. It should, but I doubt if it will happen.

Shameful. Disgusting. Sickening.

NOTE: Assistant District Attoney Susan Benedict did not respond to a request for comments.


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