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Politics

Local Public Official Arrested In Murder Of Vegas Reporter

a news conference about the arrest of robert telles
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The story line, at least for now: Jeff German was murdered for doing his job. 

German, a reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was attacked and stabbed to death outside his home late last week. On Wednesday night, police arrested Robert Telles, a local public official and somebody German covered well, on suspicion of murder in the bizarre, tabloid-ready case. 

Police had earlier released photos of a person seen walking in German’s neighborhood around the time of the killing wearing gloves, a wide-brimmed hat, and loud neon-orange jacket. Telles went under surveillance after investigators learned a car resembling Telles’s auto had been captured by security cameras near the scene of the murder. Hours before his arrest, Telles was shown on local television in his yard wearing what appeared to be a hazmat suit. Reports say police claim to have found Telles’s DNA at the crime scene.

German was a mainstay on the paper’s investigations beat. Telles ran the Clark County Public Administrator’s office. German had gotten tips that the office under Telles was a special sort of hellhole for its workers and followed up on them with zeal. 

According to the county’s website, the bailiwick of the public administrator is to “secure property of people who pass away in Clark County while a search for family or the decedent’s executor is performed.” As investigative topics go, that department ain’t a high-profile target for a veteran Las Vegas reporter like German, 69, who most recently looked into seriously bad people being banned by local casinos. But any elected official is obviously fair game for the media, and a good story is a good story. And the shenanigans in the office of public administrator under Telles checked those boxes. 

German was told by several staffers that lots of the hellholishness stemmed from Telles getting some sort of chummy with an underling, and allowing that underling to boss around and bully veteran co-workers who were equal to or above her on the organizational chart. He told tales of Telles’s buffoonery thoroughly and entertainingly. His first report on the mess quoted one anonymous staffer saying, “I’d rather have a colonoscopy every day than come here and deal with [Telles].”

German gave Telles lots of space to answer the allegations. The public administrator denied any wrongdoing and pinned all the bad vibes on a clique of staffers who were on the job before he was elected to be in charge and wouldn’t adapt to the change. “These allegations that I’ve chained people to the wall, or something, are bogus,” Telles told German.

The situation in the office, as reported by German, was so adversarial that some staffers actually followed Telles around and filmed him away from the job. One of those fishing trips found him and his favorite underling, both of whom (as German reported) were married to others at the time, meeting up in the parking lot of a local outlet mall. A spy shot a video of the civil servant couple as they got in the backseat of her car, keenly identified by German as “a Nissan Rogue,” and by the looks of things canoodled. As German put it: “The video appears to show two heads through the tinted back window joining together.”

German, as a good reporter would, obtained a copy of clandestine canoodling video, and the Review-Journal ran it on the website. Ignoring the postscript, it’s hilarious. 

There are no reports that Telles has yet confessed to murdering German. If it turns out that he in fact is guilty of the killing, the case would recall the 2017 massacre of staffers of the Capital Gazette, an Annapolis, Md., newspaper. The killer, Jarrod Ramos, shot up the newsroom and killed five Gazette employees because it had accurately reported on his conviction in a stalking case. 

The last story German wrote about Telles and the local government’s workplace from hell ran on June 22, after Telles conceded that he’d lost the Democratic Party’s primary for Clark County Public Administrator. The winner was Rita Reid, a staffer under Telles and one of the named sources in German’s investigative series for the Review-Journal, who was so aggrieved by Telles’s on-the-job decorum that she filed to run against him and take his job. Telles, though the incumbent, came in last place in the three-candidate race, and German’s story keenly pointed out that he’d even finished behind “unknown candidate Caroline Escobar, who did no campaigning.” (No wonder that Telles’s creepy and whiny campaign commercials, one of which is still languishing essentially unwatched on YouTube, didn’t keep him out of the cellar.)

German ended the story by going over the clandestine filming of Telles and his underling in the Rogue. The last line of the piece: “They said they only hugged each other.”

Now that’s a kicker. RIP, Mr. German.