Round Hill GID suit
A nearly 6-year-old controversy involving Round Hill General Improvement District Trustee Richard Stone may finally be at an end.
After an appeal by Stone, Douglas County District Court’s Judge Michael Gibbons upheld Nevada Ethics Commission findings and ordered Stone to pay a $1,500 fine for violating ethics laws.
“Basically, Mr. Stone’s appeal was denied,” said a district court representative who did not want her name revealed. “The court concluded that the ethics commission’s factual findings were accurate and reasonable.”
Stone, who is currently serving his second term as a Round Hill trustee, was originally brought to task when, according to an ethics commission report, he failed to disclose to the Round Hill General Improvement District Board that he was an employee at a high-tech telecommunications device manufacturer, Opticomp of Round Hill, that was suing the district. Peter Guilfoyle, CEO of the company, filed suit against the Round Hill district Dec. 3, 1993, claiming that an erosion control project on Elks Point Road caused run-off water and mud to flow into his offices.
Stone was elected to the district board in 1994. The ethics commission report claimed that Stone ran for the position to be a spokesperson for Opticomp and that when discussions and votes about the board’s position on the lawsuit came up during board meetings, Stone did not abstain from contributing his opinion.
After taking up the matter in 1996, the ethics commission determined one year later that Stone had willfully violated ethics laws and imposed the fine.
Claiming the ethics commission records presented to the district court were incomplete, Stone appealed the findings in 1998. The district court reached a final decision Wednesday.
“This court concludes that the ethics commission’s interpretation in this matter was reasonable,” read Judge Gibbons’ court order. “Mr. Stone should have disclosed his relationship with Mr. Guilfoyle and Opticomp every time the matter of the Guilfoyle lawsuit came before the district and Mr. Stone should have abstained from voting or advocating in any such matter.”
Despite the court’s conclusion, Stone stood by his actions. In a written statement, Stone said, “As a Round Hill General Improvement District trustee I have served the community in advocating a documented erosion control project which contributed to protecting Lake Tahoe. Since this erosion control project has been completed, I was voted into a second term in office. All of my past fellow constituents were voted out of office and the district manager has resigned effective Aug. 5, 1999.”
Stone also denounced the ethics commission’s way of doing business.
“You are questioned in a prosecution-style fashion and then cross-examined for hours on end and punished in the form of a fine,” Stone wrote. “I support the idea of an ethics commission; however, no one oversees this current ethics commission and their ideas on administered ethics. There should be a panel of judges which oversees their activities, behaviors and punishments.”
Stone said he was not sure if he wanted to appeal Judge Gibbons’ decision.
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