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A county politician accused in the “premeditated” slaying of a Las Vegas journalist carried out the killing as retribution for a series of damning articles the reporter wrote about him, police and prosecutors say.
Robert Telles, 45, is accused of “lying in wait” for Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, who was found stabbed to death outside his home on Sept. 2, according to a criminal complaint obtained by NBC News.
Telles, 45, briefly appeared in court wearing a blue jumpsuit and shackles alongside his attorney on Tuesday. He wore bandages on both his arms stemming from self-inflicted cuts he reportedly suffered prior to being arrested, officials said.
At the hearing, the court granted Telles' attorney's request to delay his initial appearance until Sept. 20. Telles hasn't yet entered a plea on his behalf.
“We consider him to be a flight risk and a danger to the community, so when the bail issue arises, we’re going to argue for a very high bail,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said on Tuesday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Prosecutors' complaint, filed a day earlier, alleged German’s slaying was “willful, deliberate and premeditated.” The charging document states the investigative journalist’s murder was “perpetrated by lying in wait,” and/or “perpetrated by abuse of an older person.”
German, 69, was found stabbed to death outside his home near the intersection of Vegas Drive and Tenaya Way shortly after 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 2. He died of “multiple sharp force injuries,” the Clark County Coroner previously confirmed with Oxygen.com.
Surveillance cameras captured the suspected assailant in the area wearing an orange reflective shirt and a straw hat. A red or maroon GMC Denali was also spotted driving through the neighborhood shortly before German’s killing.
Investigators later found the vehicle in question, which was registered in his wife’s name, at Telles’ home. After executing a search warrant at the property, detectives located partially destroyed articles of clothing — including shoes and a hat — which matched the description of the suspect captured on video. DNA evidence found on the clothing allegedly further tied Telles to the crime scene, according to police
Telles, a Democrat, was elected Clark County Public Administrator in 2018. His access to county offices and property will be suspended pending his approaching trial, Clark County said in a statement. The public administrator’s office has been closed in the interim and employees have been ordered to work from home.
The office presides over estates of county residents who die without a legally designated next of kin.
“The death of Jeff German was both shocking and tragic, and we join with our community in being stunned at how this situation had continued to evolve over the last few days,” the statement from Clark County said. “The Public Administrator is an elected position and the County is reviewing its options under the law regarding Robert Telles’ current status as the Public Administrator.”
Telles was defeated in the June primary by fellow Democrat and his office’s top supervisor Rita Reid. His term expires in January 2022.
Investigators suspect Telles killed German over a number of scathing articles that the Las Vegas reporter published about the politician’s alleged misconduct leading up to that primary.
“Telles was upset about articles that were being written by German as an investigative journalist that exposed potential wrongdoing, and Telles had publicly expressed his issues with that reporting,” Las Vegas Police Capt. Dori Koren told reporters last week.
Prior to German’s death, the investigative reporter was working on a multi-part series on the Clark County Public Administrator, which explored accusations of misconduct — including that Telles had inflicted chronic emotional abuse on county employees and carried out an “inappropriate relationship” with a staffer.
German wrote in May that Telles’ office had been “mired in turmoil and internal dissension over the past two years, with allegations of emotional stress, bullying and favoritism.”
“And then ultimately Telles was also upset — from what we found out later — that there was additional reporting that was pending,” Koren added.
As Telles’ numbers dipped in the polls earlier this spring, he subsequently lashed out on social media, refuting the allegations of misconduct contained in German’s reporting.
"The article was intentionally gut-wrenching,” Telles wrote. “It was so ugly that you almost had to believe it was true. I can understand why you might have, with the writer's skill at pushing buttons. Also, the timing of the article was very convenient for my opponent.”
German was hired by the Las Vegas-Review Journal in 2010. The newspaper’s executive editor, Glenn Cook, said earlier this month that German hadn't spoken of any specific threats to his safety prior to his death.
“The Review-Journal family is devastated to lose Jeff,” Cook said in a statement. “He was the gold standard of the news business. It’s hard to imagine what Las Vegas would be like today without his many years of shining a bright light on dark places.”
Telles is being held without bail at a Clark County detention center, according to online records obtained by Oxygen.com. His attorney, Travis Shelter, wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted on Wednesday.
Telles also has a past arrest history for domestic violence, additional court filings show.
In March 2020, Telles was arrested for the domestic battery of his wife, Mae Ismael, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported. According to charging documents, Telles grabbed Ismael’s neck and punched her arm while traveling in a car following a night of drinking at the Bellagio Hotel. Telles was also charged with resisting officers in the incident. The case was dismissed after the elected official paid a $418 fine and completed a “corrective thinking” class.
Telles was separately investigated for inappropriately touching a freshman law student at University of Las Vegas fraternity in 2012, Las Vegas television station KTNV-TV reported.
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