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April 17, 2014

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Charges dismissed against Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki

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Sam Morris

Lt. Governor and President of the Senate Brian Krolicki talks to Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford on the first day of the 2009 legislative session in Carson City.

Updated Monday, Dec. 7, 2009 | 3:50 p.m.

Charges against Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and his chief of staff tied to his alleged mismanagement of a college savings program were dismissed this morning in Clark County District Court.

Judge Valerie Adair issued a written ruling on arguments she heard Nov. 24 from attorneys for Krolicki and his chief of staff, Kathryn Besser, dismissing counts that stemmed from what prosecutors called mismanagement of a multi-billion dollar college savings program while Krolicki served as state treasurer.

“I am greatly relieved,” Krolicki said after the hearing. “The judge has given me and my family an extraordinary Christmas present.”

The two were indicted in December 2008 and the case was set to go to trial Dec. 14. The indictment was dismissed without prejudice.

The charges against Krolicki and Besser, who was Krolicki’s chief of staff when he served as state treasurer and is now his chief of staff in the lieutenant governor’s office, arose after the 2007 audit of a $3 billion dollar, state-run college savings program.

No state funds were reported missing, but Krolicki was accused of ignoring state rules in spending and bypassing budgeting rules.

Krolicki’s attorneys said the state attorney general's office advised him and his staff on managing the fund.

Saying that the prosecution had been “absurd from the beginning,” Krolicki said he was eager to put the court proceedings behind him and move forward. He added: “I think my political viability is something that’s very strong and I look forward to continue serving the people of Nevada.”

After the hearing, Besser offered harsh words for Masto’s office. She called the prosecution a “partisan witch-hunt.”

“I think the attorney general, at the very least, owes me an apology,” Besser said. “Catharine Cortez Masto should be ashamed of herself and what she allowed her office to do.”

After being either under indictment or investigation for the past 33 months, Besser said she was grateful to see the ordeal come to a conclusion.

“We were confident we would prevail in the end but I’m just thankful the judge was able to end it today,” she said.

Adair’s ruling indicated she found the grand jury indictment to be overly vague – a point that defense attorneys had argued in their hearing on the matter two weeks ago.

In the ruling, Adair wrote, “Defendants contend that the indictment does not provide sufficient notice of the charges against them. The court agrees.”

Prosecutors were quick to leave the courtroom, but later in the day through spokeswoman Edie Cartwright, Masto’s office released a statement saying, "We are reviewing the decision and considering our options."

Krolicki attorney Richard Wright said the attorney general’s office could appeal the ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court; or, alternatively, if it still wished to proceed with its prosecution, it could convene another grand jury to issue a possible indictment.

He said he didn’t want to speculate as to what the attorney general’s office might pursue but said he was pleased with the judge’s ruling.

State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto came under fire after it was learned last month that her husband had planned a fundraiser for one of Krolicki’s Democratic opponents for the lieutenant governor’s seat. At the last court date, her office offered to remove itself from the prosecution, which the defense declined.

Defense attorneys indicated at the time they were eager for a resolution in the case and didn’t want the further delay that a new prosecutor could pose.

Krolicki was charged with two felony counts of misappropriation and falsification of accounts by a public officer, and two felony counts of misappropriation by a treasurer. Besser, as his chief of staff, was charged with aiding and abetting Krolicki’s alleged crimes.

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