Clark County Administrator Robert Telles (D) is in custody for the murder of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German in what has all the appearance of a revenge killing. Good work by Las Vegas Metro, despite a set of conflicting statements that the German assassination was “an isolated incident” and the act of someone casing the neighborhood for crimes of opportunity. (Like killing crusading reporters, we guess.) The alleged perp was stupid enough to drive to and from the crime scene in a GMC Yukon Denali tricked out with chrome handles and a sunroof, not your average perp. Ditto the strange disguise affected, which had Metro briefly baffled as to whether the suspect was a he or a she. Perhaps the sight of Telles washing town the Denali hours after the crime was what did him in. (Or maybe it was wearing a white hazmat suit to clean his garage. Nothing strange about that, eh?)
Just prior to being apprehended by Metro, Telles sustained what is described as a self-inflicted wound (mens rea?) and was carried from his SWAT-breached home on a stretcher. A Denali matching crime-scene footage was towed from his driveway. The timing of the crime was opportune and incriminating: According to the Los Angeles Times, “German was working on a new story about Telles the week he was stabbed to death.” Previously, German had covered Telles for “allegations of bullying, favoritism and an inappropriate relationship between Telles and a subordinate. Telles had publicly accused German of being a ‘bully’ and running a ‘smear’ campaign against him,” in the great tradition of Nevada elected officials. (Telles remains in office until December 31.)
The suspect is “a longtime Las Vegas resident with a political and legal background,” according to the R-J, which has been on this story like a bloodhound. A former HVAC technician, Telles also holds the 2014 “Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year” award from Nevada Legal Service. His LinkedIn page provides a variety of other affiliations. “I never had a reason to doubt his integrity, his energy or his commitment to public service,” reeled Rotary Club Secretary Stuart Lipoff. However, as county administrator, Telles’ tenure was so tumultuous that a former coroner was hired to investigate it. Telles didn’t help himself with an anti-German tweetstorm in June, calling him “obsessed” and the prospective author of a “lying smear piece.”
German’s first Telles coverage (per the R-J) “described a 19-page confidential retaliation complaint filed with the Clark County Office of Diversity by estate coordinator Aleisha Goodwin, where she provided details of Telles’ relationship with [Roberta] Lee-Kennett, the videotaping and his alleged micromanagement of the full-time workers.” Telles unwisely pushed back with an open letter on his campaign Web site that “leveled what some employees said was a threat to retaliate against them for stepping forward.”
“It’s just more real now. It’s like a realization that we’ve been in the office with someone who hates us and is capable of this kind of violent crime,” said Goodwin. “When I saw that car, the hair on my arms just stood up.” “All along, there’s been a concern for safety for myself and others who were bold and brave enough to put their names out there in the articles,” added another employee. Having lost the Democratic primary to deputy Rita Reid, Telles lashed out at her by text. “You have not had truly bad bosses if you think I tortured you. You’ve ruined my life’s path and damaged the office.” Added an anonymous Clark County employee, “It’s just hard to imagine [German] gets done in by exposing operations in the smallest possible county office of government. That’s nuts.”
We’ll let R-J Editor Glenn Cook have the last word: “We are relieved Telles is in custody and outraged that a colleague appears to have been killed for reporting on an elected official. Journalists can’t do the important work our communities require if they are afraid a presentation of facts could lead to violent retribution. We thank Las Vegas police for their urgency and hard work and for immediately recognizing the terrible significance of Jeff’s killing. Now, hopefully, the Review-Journal, the German family and Jeff’s many friends can begin the process of mourning and honoring a great man and a brave reporter.”
JP Morgan analyst Joseph Greff went to bat for MGM Resorts International yesterday, highlighting its strong domestic cash flow and saying its shares—down 27% this year—”represent good value.” He added, “We estimate that at $32+, MGM’s share price is implying an almost 20% free cash flow yield,” allowing for negative exposure in Macao, at BetMGM and in newly acquired LeoVegas. “Why,” Greff asked, “is such pessimism priced into the stock? We think it is obvious. Investors are (and have been) concerned about the sustainability of what has been very strong spend trends across the Las Vegas Strip and regional markets, where spend per visit is likely up 5% to 20% per visit versus pre-pandemic levels, with (thus far) seemingly limited demand elasticity related to significantly higher LV Strip hotel and F&B pricing. This concern is heightened by macro concerns as well—much higher inflation, equity and housing stock value declines, and reduced savings balances, as well as other macro fears that one could point to in a downturn. That said, we think there is a pretty good runway for the LV Strip through the end of the 1Q23, at least, given improving midweek group and convention volumes as well as a strong event calendar.” He concluded by noting that MGM is getting 70% of its cash flow from the Strip and was “an inexpensive way to invest” in current Vegas mania.
Jottings: After lunching with top brass from Boyd Gaming, analyst David Katz of Jefferies Equity Research liked what he heard. Despite setbacks in Kansas (new tribal competition), Indiana (ditto) and Shreveport (smoking ban), the company reports remarkable strength into 3Q22, with high-value players replacing fickle low rollers and Hawaii customers returning in force … Having quitted the sports-betting business, Churchill Downs is farming it out to FanDuel in a blockbuster deal and coup for FanDuel CEO Amy Howe. While FanDuel and TVG won’t get telecast rights to the Kentucky Derby, they’re getting darned near everything else … Congratulations to Venelazzo on plucking executive Tony Yousfi away from Fontainebleau to be its new chief sales officer. Yousfi also has a stint with MGM Resorts International on his 18-year resume … DraftKings has a new face, or rather, a pair of them. Superstar skater Tony Hawk and professional wrestler The Miz will headline a new, responsible-gambling promo push. The throwback ads will evoke NBC‘s “The More You Know” spots from 30 years ago … That didn’t take long: Bally’s Corp. has jilted Chicago as its “flagship” casino, conferring the title on a redeveloped Tropicana Las Vegas. While demolishing the venerable casino for a baseball stadium seems off the table for the nonce, the property will retain its Tropicana brand, pending redevelopment.
Quote of the Day: “Just because things hadn’t gone the way I planned didn’t necessarily mean they had gone wrong.”—songwriter Ann Patchett