Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 | 6:04 p.m.
Law enforcement officials are awaiting the results of a blood test before deciding whether to charge Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura with driving under the influence after his arrest Tuesday night.
In an e-mail sent to media shortly after midnight Thursday, Bonaventura claimed he was below the legal limit when arrested and that he was followed for 20 minutes on his way home by Nevada Highway Patrol officers.
In the e-mail, titled “Foul Play by County Officials and Henderson and Laughlin Constables,” Bonaventura said county officials and other township constables were “desperate” to remove him from office and the arrest was part of a campaign to tarnish his reputation.
“The bottom line is county officials and the Henderson and Laughlin constables are upset and retaliating because the Las Vegas Constable’s office is following the law,” he wrote.
Contacted Thursday, Las Vegas Constable’s Office spokesman Lou Toomin said Bonaventura was not making further comment on his arrest and that he would be out of the office until Monday.
The Nevada Highway Patrol, whose officers arrested Bonaventura, declined to comment.
Once Bonaventura’s blood test is complete, NHP will submit its report to the Clark County District Attorney’s office, which will then decide whether to file charges. District Attorney spokeswoman Tess Driver said it could be several weeks before the office receives the case.
Bonaventura was arrested while driving a Constable’s Office vehicle around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday near U.S. 95 and Boulder Highway. He was booked into Clark County Detention Center after failing a field sobriety test and was released Wednesday morning.
His arrest came the same day Clark County commissioners announced they would consider an ordinance to eliminate the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office, which has been a source of controversy since Bonaventura was elected in 2010.
In the e-mail to the media, Bonaventura repeatedly referenced an ongoing dispute with constable’s offices in Henderson and Laughlin.
In July, Bonaventura sued Henderson and Laughlin constable’s offices, accusing them of encroaching into his territory. Constable’s offices are funded through fees earned by serving court documents or eviction notices and Bonaventura argued the constables should stay within their own jurisdictions.
A Clark County District Court judge agreed with Bonaventura’s stance when issuing a preliminary injunction in July, but Clark County commissioners refused to pick up the bill for two lawyers Bonaventura hired to work on the case without the commission’s permission.
Bonaventura hired the lawyers as deputies in his office in an attempt to circumvent the commission, but he was stopped when the county comptroller refused to authorize payment for the new deputies until it was proven the lawyers were doing work to justify their pay
“The county is upset that the constable is trying to enforce the law and the county denies payment of fees to cover lawsuit,” Bonaventura wrote, adding that the comptroller usurped the constable’s “statutory authority over deputies and payroll.”
County spokesman Erik Pappa said the comptroller’s office was following the law and waiting for the constable’s office to provide “the scope of work for what the attorneys were doing to be paid as constables.”