Sunday, October 2, 2022

Robert Telles: Las Vegas local official has been arrested for the killing of an investigative journalist who had been reporting on him, sheriff says

An elected county official in Las Vegas is being held on an open murder charge in connection with the stabbing death of a veteran journalist who had reported on the official’s purported wrongdoing, a sheriff announced Thursday.

The killing has prompted outage in the newsroom of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and broader questions about press freedom in America.

Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, 45, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the killing of Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, the newspaper had reported, citing Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

“This is a terrible and jarring homicide that has deeply impacted Las Vegas. Every murder is tragic but the killing of a journalist is particularly troublesome,” Lombardo said Thursday in a news conference as he announced the murder charge.

[Previous story, published at 12:43 p.m. ET]

Anger is erupting in a Las Vegas newsroom — and questions swirling far beyond about press freedom in America — after an elected county official was arrested Wednesday in connection with the killing of a veteran journalist who had been reporting on the official’s purported wrongdoing, his newspaper says.
Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles — the subject of investigative reports by the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Jeff German — has been arrested, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told the Review-Journal, days after German was found stabbed to death outside his home .
These are some of the stories Jeff German wrote about Robert Telles

“We are … outraged that a colleague appears to have been killed for reporting on an elected official. Journalists can’t do the important work our communities require if they are afraid a presentation of facts could lead to violent retribution,” the newspaper’s executive editor, Glenn Cook, said Wednesday in a statement.

Telles is being held on suspicion of murder and has a court appearance scheduled for Thursday afternoon, online Clark County Jail records show. Telles has not been publicly linked by police to German’s death; CNN has reached out to the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and to Telles’ office and is working to determine his legal representation.

“Las Vegas police have acted quickly in identifying and arresting a suspect in the fatal stabbing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German,” Carlos Martínez de la Serna, program director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said Thursday in a statement. “Authorities should ensure that all those involved in this terrible crime are identified and held to account, and should make clear that those who target journalists will face justice.”

Police are expected to provide further updates on their investigation Thursday.

Officers in Las Vegas leave Robert Telles'  home Wednesday.

Uniformed officers and police vehicles were seen Wednesday outside Telles’ home, according to local media reports. Las Vegas police confirmed officers served search warrants in relation to German’s death but did not immediately provide any additional information.

German had been working on a story about Telles the week he was killed, according to the Review-Journal. Earlier this year, Telles was the subject of articles that detailed his oversight of his office, and German reported Telles created a hostile work environment and carried on an inappropriate relationship with a staffer.
Las Vegas police seek public's help after veteran reporter is found dead outside his home

Such denied the reports, the Review-Journal said. First elected to the office in 2018, Telles lost his bid for re-election in a June Democratic primary.

“The arrest of Robert Telles is at once an enormous relief and an outrage for the Review-Journal newsroom,” Cook, the editor, said Wednesday.

“We thank Las Vegas police for their urgency and hard work and for immediately recognizing the terrible significance of Jeff’s killing. Now, hopefully, the Review-Journal, the German family and Jeff’s many friends can begin the process of mourning and honoring a great man and a brave reporter. Godspeed, Jeff.”

Killings of journalists are rare in the United States, and murders of journalists in retaliation for their work even more so, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Eight journalists have been murdered in the US since 1992, when the non-profit began keeping track, including four in a mass shooting in 2018 in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland, it said.

Police asked for public’s help

German was discovered outside his home Saturday morning, and police suspect the killing may have happened earlier. Authorities asked those in the area to review any outdoor surveillance cameras from Friday between 8 am and 1 pm to possibly capture a better glimpse of a person who may have been involved in the killing.

A possible suspect “was potentially casing the area to commit other crimes before the homicide occurred,” according to Las Vegas police. Surveillance images of someone wearing a bright orange shirt and wide-brimmed hat were released, as well as a photo of what appears to be a maroon GMC SUV.

Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles washes his car Tuesday outside his home in Las Vegas.  Authorities served search warrants at Telles home Wednesday in connection with the fatal stabbing of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German.

Coworkers of German reviewing Google Maps noted in Telles’ driveway a maroon SUV similar in look to the photo released by authorities, said Arthur Kane, a reporter for the Review-Journal who’d worked with German.

“The police came down and roped off the area, started searching his house,” Kane told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday. The SUV was registered to Telles’ wife, Kane said, and the vehicle was taken away by investigators.

CNN’s Amir Vera, Jamiel Lynch, Nick Watt, Chuck Johnston, Elizabeth Joseph, Hannah Sarisohn and Satyam Kaswala contributed to this report.

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