Former Douglas deputy pleads no contest
A former Douglas County sheriff’s deputy pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence and domestic battery and was expected to be released from jail after 35 days in custody.
As a term of his release, Jason Cypher, 37, was ordered to stay out of Douglas County at least until his sentencing Dec. 3, and to have no contact with the victim, who also works for the sheriff’s office.
By entering the pleas, Cypher waived a preliminary hearing set for Friday in East Fork Justice Court. He has been held in Carson City Jail on $25,000 cash bail since his arrest Sept. 14 on allegations that he battered his wife and was driving drunk while off duty.
A felony charge of burglary and a misdemeanor stalking charge were dismissed Friday.
Senior Judge Edward Dannan placed Cypher under the supervision of chief probation officer Doug Swalm. In addition to the no-contact order, Cypher must refrain from alcohol and controlled substances. Cypher will be outfitted with a global positioning system monitor while he awaits sentencing.
His lawyer, Laurence Peter Digesti, said Cypher would live in Carson City with family members. He raised the question of Cypher’s visitation with his daughter who lives in Douglas County.
“At holidays, parents like to be part of their child’s school activities,” Digesti said. “The child means a great deal to Mr. Cypher.”
Prosecutor Gerald Gardner pointed out that Cypher must stay out of Douglas County under terms of a protection order which was extended Friday for a year. He said Cypher meets his daughter at his mother’s residence.
Dannan said he would take another look at the restriction at sentencing.
Digesti said each side would be free to argue, but the recommendation would be that Cypher be given 180-day suspended sentences on each offense with 30 days in custody, and receive credit for time served.
Digesti said his client pleaded no contest even though he felt some defenses could be presented.
“It was his decision to move on with his life and put this matter behind him,” Digesti said.
Cypher was silent during the hearing except to answer “no contest” when asked for his plea. He answered “yes, sir,” when asked by Dannan if he understood the proceedings.
Dannan explained that a no-contest plea means Cypher admitted his guilt.
“It allows the case to have a conclusion,” Dannan said. “To go forward would mean a number of people would testify, including the victim. This is the best way to proceed for all including the victims and the witnesses.”
Digesti also submitted a psychological evaluation of his client which Dannan ordered sealed.
Gardner, a Carson City deputy district attorney appointed special prosecutor for the case, said the state “found the no-contest plea less satisfactory that a guilty plea, but within what the law allows.”
He said the state would request that Cypher receive a one-year suspended sentence and be placed on three years formal probation.
Digesti said he would argue against the probation length.
“Mr. Cypher has opportunities outside the state when everything is wrapped up,” he said.
Cypher was arrested early Sept. 14 at Ironwood Drive and Highway 395 in Minden after a witness reportedly observed him striking his wife. A criminal complaint alleged he pulled her hair and punched her numerous times.
Cypher’s preliminary breath test for alcohol was .161, more than twice the legal limit for driving in Nevada, according to a Nevada Highway Patrol report.
Digesti asked Friday that sentencing be delayed for official results of Cypher’s blood-alcohol content.
The investigation and prosecution were turned over to Carson City to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest because Cypher was a Douglas County deputy when he was arrested.
He resigned Sept. 25 after 15 years with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.