Police arrested an elected public official in Las Vegas, Nevada, five days after the violent slaying of investigative reporter Jeff German. The official had been the subject of a series of high-profile stories by the slain journalist that uncovered claims of bullying and retaliation. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has taken into custody Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, at his home in western Las Vegas around 6:30 p.m., just hours after investigators concluded a search of his property.
The 69-year-old German worked for decades for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and he was the first to report the news of the arrest. The focus of German’s reporting was the 45-year-old Telles, which was about turmoil including complaints of administrative bullying, favoritism and Telles’ relationship with a subordinate staffer in the county office that handles property of people who die without a will or family contacts.
The newspaper was told by Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo that Telles was arrested on suspicion of murder. It was expected by Lombardo to release further details at a news conference, said USA Today. Earlier in the day, around 7 a.m., officers descended on Telles’ two-story home, searching for more than six hours the nearly 3,000-square-foot property, before a red GMC Yukon Denali was towed away.
The GMC had been parked in Telles’ driveway, and it matched the description of a vehicle police say could be linked to German’s killing: A 2007 to 2014 red or maroon Denali with chrome handles, a sunroof and roof racks. In 2018, replacing a three-term public administrator, Telles, a lawyer who practiced probate and estate law, won his elected position. Assistant Public Administrator Rita Reid won against him in his June party primary. On December 31, Telles’ term will expire.
German’s bylined reports in the week before the election, about an office “mired in turmoil and internal dissension” between longtime employees and new hires under Telles’ leadership. For exaggerating the extent of his relationship with a female staffer, Telles blamed “old-timers,” and falsely claiming that he mistreated them. He told the newspaper: “All my new employees are super happy and everyone’s productive and doing well. We’ve almost doubled the productivity in the office.”
The Review-Journal reported that Telles later posted Twitter complaints about German, including claims in June that German was a bully who was “obsessed” with him. The newspaper said that German, a reporter with a reputation for tenacity, was working on follow-up reports, and filed public records requests recently, for emails and text messages between Telles and three other county officials including Reid and consultant Michael Murphy.
Less than 24 hours after the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released the vehicle description, along with a surveillance photo, the police search unfolded at a news conference, where police Capt. Dori Koren reassured the public that investigators were working “nonstop” to solve the case. Telles was dropped off in a white sedan not long after police wrapped up their search, wearing a white jumpsuit as he ignored reporters camped out on his street.
Telles did not answer the door two hours later when the police returned, and an officer knocked several times, identifying himself as “Metro police!” A swarm of additional police officers in marked and unmarked vehicles arrived within minutes, and taped off the area for the second time. For about an hour, the scene remained relatively stagnant until around 5:45 p.m. when police closed off the entire neighborhood.
Armored SWAT vehicles and ambulances arrived, as reporters and residents exited the neighborhood. According to police, German was found dead Sept. 3 with stab wounds outside his home, about five miles from Telles’ home. It is believed by the authorities that he was killed a day earlier during an altercation in the “late morning hours.”