Lawyers call Nev. lieutenant governor case flawed |

Lawyers call Nev. lieutenant governor case flawed

LAS VEGAS – Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and a top aide are asking a judge to throw out criminal charges accusing them of mishandling funds in a $3 billion state college savings program.

“The indictment should be dismissed to prevent any further injustice,” attorneys for Krolicki and his chief of staff, Kathryn Besser, say in a 44-page court filing labeling the untested state law under which the two state officials were charged “unconstitutionally vague and defective.”

Lawyers Margaret Stanish, for Krolicki, and Lidia Stiglich for Besser also challenge the evidence in the case, and call it unjust for the state attorney general’s office to allege wrongdoing after advising Krolicki when he was state treasurer that the way funds were being handled was appropriate.

“Simply stated, the attorney general’s office provided legal representation specific to the ‘off-budget’ expenditures and now prosecutes Mr. Krolicki for the reliance on its legal representation,” the attorneys wrote.

Stanish and Stiglich did not immediately respond to messages Monday seeking comment.

Conrad Hafen, the chief deputy state attorney general prosecuting the case, said he will provide a written response to the judge. He said he was confident the charges will stand.

“There was sufficient evidence presented to the grand jury to show probable cause that these crimes were committed,” he said.

Clark County District Court Judge Valerie Adair set a Nov. 24 hearing on the request to reject the case as flawed. Trial is due to start Dec. 14.

The same judge on Sept. 8 denied an effort by Krolicki and Besser to get the case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction in Clark County – a move that could have forced the state to seek an indictment again in northern Nevada.

The indictment handed up last December in Las Vegas charges Krolicki and Besser each with four felony charges – two counts of misappropriation and falsification of accounts by a public officer, and two counts of misappropriation – based on Krolicki’s performance in his previous elected position, state treasurer.

Both have pleaded not guilty. The charges each carry the possibility of probation or up to four years in prison.

Authorities say no money was found to be missing from the Nevada College Savings Program. But a 2007 audit found that Krolicki allegedly skirted budget controls and spent more on advertising than allotted by the Legislature.

Krolicki, a Republican, has called the charges against him political. The indictment crippled his plans to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in the November 2010 election. Hafen denies politics played any role in the case.

Adair also previously rejected an effort by Krolicki and Besser lawyers to disqualify the attorney general from handling the case due to the conflict of interest claim.

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