Saturday, May 13, 2006

(14) DARIO HERRERA

(14) DARIO HERRERADario Herrera had a golden career in politics, but it an awful lot of it was based on shady connections. Herrera was born in Miami, Florida to Cuban immigrants and raised in a single-parent family. In 1991, he moved to Las Vegas to attend UNLV, where he abandoned his college football aspirations and graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science. In 1996, at the age of 23, he was elected to the Nevada State Assembly, winning the primary by 30 percentage points and the general election by more than 16 points over his Republican opponent. In 1997, he served on the Health and Human Services, Judiciary, Commerce, Education, Elections and Procedures, and Ethics Committees. After serving out his two-year term, he ran for commissioner in 1999 and won. Soon after he was throwing votes for Michael Galardi.

Steve Miller, Americanmafia.com

Letizia doubles as the PR man for the Crazy Horse Too strip club purportedly owned by Rizzolo who is a subject in a federal investigation of racketeering, and is also a well known campaign fundraiser. Letizia's local venues of choice are Piero's and Cili. Other local political fund raisers include Rizzolo's legal team of Dean Patti and Tony Sgro who have been known to throw extravagant parties at Rizzolo's Canyon Gate estate in the hills west of Vegas. These events are mainly attended by judges, and the hoodlum clients of their law firm.

I often refer on these pages to Clark County District Attorney David Roger, and District Court Judge Nancy Saitta. Both have been recipients of parties thrown by Letizia at Piero's, and Roger even received a fund raiser held at Rizzolo's LV estate. Both have been suspected of doing favors for Rizzolo.

Some powerful people spent time putting Dario in position, including Harry Reid who supported Herrera's 2002 congressional campaign. The question is, how many of those people were kept busy cleaning up after Herrera's various messes?

Tuesday, February 26, 2002Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

PR WORK: HUD won't investigate HerreraNo violations seen in housing authority contract

By JANE ANN MORRISON REVIEW-JOURNAL

Clark County Commission Chairman Dario Herrera won't be campaigning for Congress with a federal investigation hovering over his race.

Law enforcement officials said Monday they are not opening investigations into a public relations contract awarded to Herrera by Frederick Brown, executive director of the Las Vegas Housing Authority.

"Right now it's determined there is no violation that we're aware of," said Terry Hulse, acting special-agent-in-charge of the FBI's Las Vegas office. The Housing and Urban Development Department "said they didn't see a violation in what happened, at this point."

Housing Authority Board member Dewain Steadman on Feb. 15 asked Las Vegas police and the FBI to investigate the contract for possible misuse of federal funds, after learning Brown hired Herrera without telling the board.

"We had examined it and referred it to the FBI, and we don't do ethics investigations," said Sheriff Jerry Keller.

After hearing that HUD didn't see any violation, Steadman said, "I'm a firm believer in the process. If they say there's not enough evidence to cause an investigation, I'm very comfortable with it."

Herrera said he merely followed Brown's instruction when it came to getting the public relations work. "He managed the process. He came to me about PR work for the Housing Authority; I did the work."

The Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District described the situation as "an unfortunate miscommunication between the executive director and his board."

Records show Herrera received $50,000 from the authority, including eight payments each of $4,500 between January 2001 and September 2001. Starting in November, he received $3,500 for each of the four months he shared a contract with Lucie Melchert, owner of Tribeca Media. Melchert went through the bidding process to secure the $84,000-a-year contract.

Melchert said she told Brown he might want to bring in someone else for the strategic planning part of the contract; Brown arranged for Herrera to handle that. The authority's original solicitation for proposals never mentioned strategic planning skills.

Herrera acknowledged he never went through a bid proposal process for any of the work he did for the authority. Brown is a member of Herrera's congressional exploratory committee.

Herrera last week offered to withdraw from the contract; by Monday, Melchert had joined him, saying the furor affected her effectiveness.

Authority board chairman Robert Forbuss accepted their offers, saying he thought Brown "was acting in what he believed to be the best interest of the authority" when he hired a PR firm. Forbuss said future contracts will have to go before the board for approval.

Some executives at 10 ad agencies who went through the initial bid process said they found it unusual.

"I just find it interesting that Dario didn't have to go through any of the steps that we had to go through," said Susie Black, an accounts supervisor at Faiss Foley Merica and former president of the Public Relations Society of Nevada.

Black said her firm, which ranked 9th among bidders, at one point received a fax from the authority saying it decided not to hire a PR firm. Shortly after that, she said, the company received notice that Tribeca had been hired. Only recently was it disclosed that Herrera received part of that contract without participating in the proposal process.

Rich Newman, owner of Newman Verrill, whose proposal was ranked 10th, operates the third oldest agency in Las Vegas. "It was not only a waste of our time, but there is no doubt the bid was rigged," he said.

Brown said Monday he was under no legal obligation to solicit bids when he hired Herrera in January. He said his contract officer told him if the work continued past piecemeal projects, it needed to go out for bid.

Brown said of the possibility the FBI would get involved: "I knew that wasn't even a problem. I would welcome an investigation. There wouldn't be anything found to be incorrect." So, a sweetheart deal where other competition was brushed aside and Dario awarded a $50,000 no-work position, was swept under the rug even though there was an FBI referral? During a congressional campaign? The only one powerful enough to do that would have been Harry Reid. And Harry was obviously driven to put Democrats into key positions in Nevada, to the point of fanatacism. In the spring of 2006, when given an opportunity to express collegiality with Senate Republicans, Harry said he hated them, listing only a few exceptions.

It gets better though. First Dario employed Eric Goodman (Oscar's son), and David Brown (Jay Brown's son, the co-owner of land in Searchlight with Reid).

Tuesday, August 30, 2005Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Herrera hires two prominent lawyers

Attorneys to defend former official against corruption chargesBy ADRIENNE PACKERREVIEW-JOURNAL

Dario HerreraIndicted on charges he accepted cash bribes from strip club owner Michael Galardi Former Clark County Commissioner Dario Herrera hired a New York-based white-collar crime attorney and a well-known local lawyer Monday to defend him against federal political corruption charges. Jerry D. Bernstein and Anthony Sgro will orchestrate the defense for Herrera, who was indicted in 2003 on charges that during his tenure as commissioner, he accepted cash bribes from strip club owner Michael Galardi. In a prepared statement, Bernstein wasted no time attempting to discredit Galardi, who pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is a government witness. "Dario's accuser is a known liar and cheat who has made outrageous claims of corruption against numerous elected public officials," the statements says. "We look forward to putting forth a vigorous defense to clear the false charges against Dario and restore his good name." Sgro, who has also represented Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo in an ongoing federal racketeering and tax evasion investigation, said he believes Herrera is innocent. "As someone who knew Dario when he was an elected official, there's no doubt in my mind that he is innocent," Sgro said in the statement. Bernstein, Sgro and Herrera declined further comment through Herrera's consultant, Mark Jolley. The two attorneys replace Eric Goodman, the son of Mayor Oscar Goodman, and David Brown. They were hired to help Herrera through pretrial work.