Las Vegas Sun

October 2, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: JUSTICE:

Casinos say former NBA star owes $822,500 in gambling debts

Walker charged with three felony counts of bad checks

Walker

Walker

The district attorney’s office has filed a criminal complaint against former NBA all-star Antoine Walker alleging he failed to pay back $822,500 in gambling debts at three Las Vegas casinos.

Walker, who last played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008, made the all-star team three times as a member of the Boston Celtics. He also was on the Miami Heat team that won the championship in 2006. Walker was on a national championship team while in college too, as a starting forward for the University of Kentucky in 1996.

The complaint charges Walker, 32, who wants to return to the NBA, with three felony counts in passing $1 million in bad checks while taking out the markers at Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and Red Rock Resort. By law, gambling debts in Nevada are handled as bad check cases.

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by the Sun, Walker obtained gambling markers by writing 10 separate $100,000 checks with insufficient funds at the casinos from July 27 to Jan. 19.

Six of the checks were made out to Caesars Palace and two each to Planet Hollywood and Red Rock Resort, the complaint says.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Bernie Zadrowski, who runs the bad check unit, is asking a Las Vegas justice of the peace for a warrant to arrest Walker.

Zadrowski says Walker has paid back some of the $1 million in markers, but in addition to the $822,500 still owed to the casinos, Walker now owes the district attorney’s office $82,550 in fees for taking on the criminal prosecution, which the three casinos requested.

One of Walker’s Las Vegas attorneys, Jonathan Powell, declined to comment.

This is the second brush with the law for Walker this year. He was charged with suspected drunken driving in Miami Beach in January.

Two years ago Walker and a relative were bound at gunpoint while robbers took a car, cash and jewelry from his suburban Chicago home. Four men were later charged in the case.

•••

Last week’s federal racketeering convictions of five members of the Aryan Warriors prison gang is a victory all the way around for law enforcement authorities.

It demonstrates, among other things, that those authorities can and will work together across jurisdictional lines for years on a major case.

One of the key members of the federal prosecution team was Thom Gover, a senior deputy with the Nevada attorney general’s office. Gover was deputized as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the case and presented a large portion of the evidence during the seven-week trial. He worked closely with the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Bliss.

Gover’s presence in the case could prove significant as state prison officials deal with fallout from the trial in the months ahead, mainly the allegations that the Aryan Warriors corrupted corrections officers.

After the verdict, Nevada Prison Director Howard Skolnik issued a statement pledging to continue to aggressively investigate allegations of misconduct within his ranks.

Federal authorities are expected to keep the heat on the corrections officers, too.

•••

The county’s district judges have selected Steve Grierson to succeed Ed Friedland as court executive at District Court.

The position, which oversees the daily operations of the courts at the Regional Justice Center, has an annual salary range of $107,016 to $153,608.

“I’m honored,” says Grierson, who will have to negotiate his own salary deal. “I’m excited about the opportunity to serve a great group of judges.”

Las Vegas justices of the peace are to meet Thursday to decide whether to hand over the reins of the lower court to Grierson as well.

The County Commission will have the final word on his future.

Jeff German Jeff German is the Sun’s senior investigative reporter.

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