Authorities served search warrants Wednesday morning in connection with the slaying of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German, Las Vegas police said.
Around 7 a.m., reporters observed uniformed officers and police vehicles outside the home of Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, who had been the focus of stories by German. Authorities had also taped off a section around Telles’ home.
German spent months reporting on the turmoil surrounding Robert Telles’ oversight of the office. The 45-year-old Democrat lost his re-election bid in June’s primary after German’s findings were published.
German, 69, was found dead outside his northwest Las Vegas home on Sept. 3, the Metropolitan Police Department reported. Officials believe he was fatally stabbed during an altercation the day before.
On Wednesday morning, police had taped off an area near Telles’ home in the western valley.
Two pieces of surveillance footage in the investigation have been made public.
RELATED: Embattled county official losing re-election bid, posts angry letter
The first shows an unidentified suspect wearing a wide straw hat, gloves and a bright orange long-sleeved shirt. The other captures a vehicle police say was tied to the attack: a 2007 to 2014 red or maroon GMC Yukon Denali with chrome handles and a sunroof.
Hours after the vehicle’s image was released, Review-Journal reporters spotted Telles in the driveway of his home with a vehicle matching that description.
German’s death came months after he reported current and former employees alleged Telles fueled a hostile work environment and carried on an “inappropriate relationship” with a subordinate staffer, Roberta Lee-Kennett. The complaints led to co-workers secretly videotaping the two in the back seat of Lee-Kennett’s car in a parking garage. The story also included claims of bullying and favoritism by Telles.
Telles denied the accusations and said Lee-Kennett, who also worked under former Public Administrator John Cahill, was simply one of the people he “could lean on” while he tried to change the office atmosphere.
He placed third in his party’s primary for re-election to the county office, which oversees the estates of those who have died.
That same month he lashed out at German in a series of public Twitter posts, accusing the reporter of preparing “lying smear piece #4.”
Outbursts follow investigation
The Review-Journal’s first investigative story on Telles was published in mid-May.
The story 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 Lee-Kennett, the videotaping and his alleged micromanagement of the full-time workers.
“The county has failed to protect employees from a mentally and emotionally abusive situation that has continued now for two years-plus, and the mental and physical health ramifications have been felt by most of the full-time employees in this department of only eight full-time employees,” Goodwin wrote.
On May 26, German reported that top Clark County managers hired a former coroner, Michael Murphy, to tackle friction in Telles’ office after multiple claims of bullying and favoritism.
German’s story from June 18 revealed that Telles had posted a scathing letter on his election website. The letter attacked the Review-Journal and its reporting and claimed the allegations against him were false. It also leveled what some employees said was a threat to retaliate against them for stepping forward. They told German they still feared for their jobs and had reported their concerns about the letter to county human resources.
Because of the brewing animosity, the top supervisor under Telles, Rita Reid, decided to run against him in this year’s Democratic primary.
Typical bully. Can’t take a pound of critism after slinging 100 pounds of BS. Up to article #4 now. You’d think he’d have better things to do. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
— Rob Telles (@RobTellesLV) June 25, 2022
Cahill, who preceded Telles in office from 2007 to 2019, told German the letter was another effort to intimidate the workers.
Telles aired his grievances with German through Twitter on multiple occasions, claiming on June 16 that the reporter was “obsessed” with him. Later in the month, he called him a bully.
“I think he’s mad that I haven’t crawled into a hole and died,” read another tweet.
Following his primary defeat, Telles posted that he would return to practicing probate law. German’s final story on Telles, published June 22, announced that he conceded in the primary race.
Executive Editor Glenn Cook said that German never communicated any concerns about his personal safety or any threats made against him to anyone in the Review-Journal’s leadership.
“The Review-Journal family is devastated to lose Jeff,” Cook said. “He was the gold standard of the news business. It’s hard to imagine what Las Vegas would be like today without his many years of shining a bright light on dark places.”
Acclaimed journalist remembered
German’s journalism career spanned 40 years in Las Vegas.
His reporting exposed corruption and crime perpetrated by politicians, police, attorneys, judges, casino industry leaders and mob figures.
He built a trusted reputation with sources, refusing to disclose those who asked not to be revealed. He joined the Review-Journal in 2010 after more than two decades at the Las Vegas Sun.
German’s investigative work led to reforms and policy changes.
Former Clark County District Attorney David Roger remembered him earlier this week as a tenacious reporter who “just would not give up.”
In recent years, his reporting exposed failures in city inspections before the deadly Alpine Motel Apartments fire in 2019 and extremist activity in Southern Nevada.
He broke the news that City Councilwoman Michele Fiore’s campaign finances were under scrutiny by the FBI and reported that city officials had deleted surveillance videos of an altercation with fellow Councilwoman Victoria Seaman, despite the Review-Journal requesting copies under Nevada’s public records law.
German was the writer and host for Season 2 of “Mobbed Up: the Fight for Vegas,” the Review-Journal’s acclaimed true-crime podcast. His book, “Murder in Sin City: The Death of a Las Vegas Casino Boss,” chronicles the 1998 death of casino executive Ted Binion.
Portions of this story were taken from previous reporting by German.
Contact Briana Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter. Contact Glenn Puit at email@example.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter. Staff writer Sabrina Schnur contributed to this story.