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Entries in Las Vegas (40)

Tuesday
Feb282012

Bruno Mars Prosecutor Gets Nine Months on Drug Charges

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department(LAS VEGAS) -- A former Las Vegas prosecutor who handled high-profile drug cases against Paris Hilton and Bruno Mars will experience another side of the justice system after being ordered to spend nine months in jail on felony crack possession charges.

During a sentencing hearing Tuesday, former Deputy District Attorney David Schubert apologized to the court for what he called a “tragedy,” then stood in silence while Clark County District Judge Carolyn Ellsworth handed down his sentence. Ellsworth ordered Schubert to serve three years of probation, which includes paying a $5,000 fine and spending nine months in the county jail in lieu of serving a two- to three-year prison term.  

Schubert was arrested last March after police found $40 of crack cocaine and an unregistered 9 mm handgun in his car. He pleaded guilty in September to a felony charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance not for sale.

Thom Gover, the chief deputy attorney general prosecuting the case, said he did not expect the judge’s decision to be as severe as it was.

“It was within the plea deal,” Gover told ABC News, although he said that judge’s decision was “not typical.”

Ellsworth was the second judge to handle the Schubert’s sentencing after a previous judge recused himself for being unable to remain impartial.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Clark County District Court Judge Douglas Herndon, who previously worked with Schubert at the district attorney’s office, refused to sentence his former colleague after finding the proposed plea deal too lenient.

“You’re getting a better deal than people you’ve prosecuted, and I don’t think that’s just and proper,” Herndon told Schubert during a December court hearing, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Schubert must surrender by March 12 to begin his jail sentence.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb142012

Las Vegas Opens New Mob Museum

Hemera/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- The opening of The Mob Museum of Las Vegas on Valentine’s Day is no coincidence: It’s the 83rd anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, when seven mobsters were gunned down in a Chicago alley. In fact, among the museum’s artifacts is the brick wall where the shootout took place.

Las Vegas has a deep history, as well as a love-hate relationship, with organized crime. One of the museum’s exhibits details the illegal skimming of profits of a casino’s earnings, which was commonplace in Las Vegas for decades.

The creators of the museum, however, are quick to deny that the museum glorifies mob culture. Instead, they say the exhibits focus on the real story of the mob and how law enforcement battled organized crime.

The $42 million, 17,000-square-foot Mob Museum is housed in the former federal courthouse and United States Post Office in downtown Las Vegas and is the second mob-themed attraction in Sin City. The first was the Mob Experience at the Tropicana, which shut down amid financial problems. It is scheduled to open again under the name Mob Attraction, but the date is unknown.

Admission is $18 for adults; $12 for children ages 5 to 17.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec272011

Colorado Man Finds $10K in Las Vegas Airport, Hunts Down Owner

Getty Images(GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo.) -- A Colorado man granted a Christmas wish through an unlikely act of honesty and persistence. He returned $10,000 in cash to its rightful owner after finding it in two Caesar’s Palace envelopes at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

Mitch Gilbert, 55, was traveling home to Colorado with his wife from Las Vegas, where they had gone to run the Rock and Roll Marathon. As Gilbert was going through security, he saw two sealed envelopes from Caesar’s Palace left behind on a table.

“I’m just standing there figuring someone will turn around and I can hand them their envelope, but no one turned around,” Gilbert told ABC News. “I’m in Las Vegas. If I hold up the envelope and say, ‘Who lost money?’, everyone will say, ‘I did!’”

Gilbert said he wanted to return the envelopes but wanted to make sure they went to their rightful owner. After a few minutes passed, he put the envelopes with his belongings and went through security.

He quietly told his wife what had happened and they waited by security to see if someone would come back looking for the money.

“We sat there for 30 minutes until our plane was ready to take off,” he said. “No one ever came back. I was sure they would come back.”

Gilbert put the unopened envelopes in his backpack and decided he would take them home and call the airport from home. Back home in Greenwood Village, Colo., Gilbert and his wife opened the envelopes.

“I opened them up and saw the $5,000 in each one. I literally fell over. I was like, Oh my God,” he said. “I called the airport lost and found the next day and they said, ‘We’re sorry. We can’t help third parties,’” Gilbert said. “And I said, ‘Well you have to help me. If you had lost it, you’d want to make sure you got it back.’”

Gilbert did not give up and kept calling back for at least 30 days until someone reported the money missing. Finally, after convincing airport officials to give his phone number to anyone who inquired about the cash, Gilbert received a phone call from Ignacio Marquez of El Paso, Texas.

“I said, ‘I have every penny right here,’” Gilbert said. “He thanked me like five times, saying, ‘You don’t know what you’ve done for my family. This is the greatest Christmas present.’”

A grateful Marquez insisted that Gilbert accept a $1,000 reward, which he did, but said it “felt funny keeping it.”

He and Marquez arranged for Gilbert to deposit the money into his bank account. At the bank, Gilbert told the story to the teller and other customers overheard. People started shaking his hand and giving him hugs. Someone from the bank called a local news station and Gilbert’s story quickly spread.

Gilbert has been “shocked” by the reaction he has been getting, saying it has been “absolutely insane.”

“I’m getting emails from people all over the country thanking me, blessing me for doing the right thing, for teaching a lesson to children,” Gilbert said.

“I did it for two reasons. First, every time I put myself in the guy’s shoes, I would get sick to my stomach and I knew that I would hope to God that somebody would find me or turn it in,” Gilbert said. “The second reason—and both are equally important—is that I wanted to set a good example for my kids. As a family thing, I wanted to do the right thing.”

Gilbert said he has had friends ask him if he took a “stupid pill” or got hit on the head with a “stupid stick” for not keeping the money.

“Most people admit to me that they never would have given it back, especially after one call to the airport,” Gilbert said. “But I’m in residential real estate. I see a lot of people go through hardships. I mean, I could use ten grand, but it wasn’t my money. That was the bottom line.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec242011

TSA Confiscates Frosted Cupcake for Potential Security Threat

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- A Massachusetts woman who flew home from Las Vegas this week says an airport security officer took her frosted cupcake because he thought its vanilla-bourbon icing could be a “security risk.”

Rebecca Hains told ABC News Saturday that a Transportation Security Administration agent at Las Vegas- McCarran International Airport confiscated her cupcake, saying the frosting sitting atop the red velvet cake was gel-like enough to violate regulations.

The incident took place Wednesday.

Hains, a teacher, said the cupcake was a gift from one of her students. She was traveling with her husband and toddler, and thought her young son might get hungry on the long trip home.

The cupcake was packaged in a glass container with a metal lid, which was why it attracted the attention of the scanner in the first place.

The TSA agent didn’t know what to do with the cupcake, so she called over her supervisor, Hains said.

“The TSA supervisor, Robert Epps, was using really bad logic -- he said it counted as a gel-like substance because it was conforming to the shape of its container.”

“We also had a small pile of hummus sandwiches with creamy fillings, which made it through, but the cupcake with its frosting was apparently a terrorist threat … I just don’t know what world he was living in,” said Hains, speaking of the TSA officer.

Hains said she had flown from Boston to Las Vegas with two cupcakes without any problems.

“The TSA at Logan Airport said the cupcakes looked delicious and told us to have a great trip. But in Las Vegas, they were dangerous. They shouldn’t be delicious in one part of the country and a security threat in the other.”

“You’d expect them to be consistent. If they’re doing what they claim to be doing and actually protecting travelers, they would be applying their rules using critical thinking. He gave no indication that really thought the cupcake was a threat.”

“This really isn’t about the cupcake, it’s about the bigger issue and it’s indicative of the fact that broader reforms need to be made to the TSA because they are not keeping us safe,” said Hains.

“In general, cakes and pies are allowed in carry-on luggage,” TSA spokesperson James Fotenos told ABC News affiliate WCVB. Fotenos added that they were looking into why this cupcake was confiscated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec082011

NTSB to Investigate Helicopter Crash Near Vegas That Killed Five

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced early Thursday morning it has launched an investigation into a helicopter crash near Las Vegas Wednesday that killed all five people on board.

The chopper, operated by Sundance Helicopters, was on a sightseeing tour of Hoover Dam about 30 miles away from Las Vegas Strip, when it went down around 5 p.m. in the mountains surrounding Lake Mead.  Officials confirmed that all passengers were killed.

As National Parks Department spokesman Andrew Munoz explains, the scene of the crash is very remote, making it difficult for rescue and investigative teams to reach the site.

"The area itself is rugged...mountains and there's no easy access in by vehicle," Munoz says.

For its part, the NTSB will use a team of 12 members to look into the crash.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov042011

Building Hope in Las Vegas

Hemera/ThinkstockREPORTER’S NOTEBOOK
By ALEX STONE, ABC News

(LAS VEGAS) -- Life is tough here in Las Vegas.  With 13.6 percent of the area’s population out of work -- compared to the nationwide jobless rate of 9 percent -- the city is suffering one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. With gambling revenues down, the concern of more layoffs constantly nags at those who still have jobs.

In the current economy, the big players here are giving up on building big new casinos and resorts.  Instead, the focus is turning toward ways to attract crowds for less money and without an emphasis on gambling.

That’s where Caesars Entertainment comes in.  The company is developing Linq -- a massive entertainment district filled with restaurants, bars, and retail shops patterned after The Grove, a well-known Los Angeles mall popular with Hollywood celebrities.

“It will really bring a new dimension to the center strip of Las Vegas,” Caesars Regional President Rick Mazer told ABC News.

Mazer said the Linq project will be focused on offering an affordable entertainment option that differs from what is currently available on the Vegas Strip.  “We have had an ample amount of hotel and casino product come online recently and they’ve had their hiccups,” he said.

Linq will mean jobs for badly battered Las Vegas.  “We will have approximately 3,000 construction jobs that are created through this project.  Some of that has already started. When the project is done in mid-2013 we anticipate another 1,300 full time jobs,” explains Mazer.

Linq is being built along a private street separating the Imperial Palace from the Flamingo Hotel.  It will stretch from the Las Vegas Strip to a street behind the hotels -- its centerpiece, a 550-foot “observation wheel.”  Mazer says it will not be a Ferris wheel, but instead a massive structure taller than the London Eye (443ft) with glass-enclosed cabins that hold 40 passengers each and circle above the Strip.

“In a time when jobs are scarce and many companies are not creating jobs we are very proud to say we are creating thousands of jobs,” says Mazer.

The Linq project offers hope at a time when hope in Sin City is hard to find.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct182011

Crowded Track, Young Drivers Factor in Fatal Indy Crash, Expert Says

Robert Laberge/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- A factor contributing to the crash that killed two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was that the track had a crowded field of cars and that many of the drivers were not experienced with the steeply banked Las Vegas Motor Speedway, said Terry Blount, the senior writer of motor sports for ESPN.com.

Blount said the track’s layout -- a high-banked, 1.5 mile long oval -- meant that drivers never let off the gas at 220-plus mph while driving in a big pack.

“They just go flat out all the way around,” he said.  “They never let off the gas.”

Because of this, in addition to the lack of fenders on the cars, he said, “If you touch wheels, you’re more than likely going to have an accident.”

Besides the usual safety concerns, Blount told ABC News that Sunday’s race had involved 34 cars -- usually there are 20 to 25 for a track like this -- and that Indy had not raced since 2000 at Las Vegas, which had undergone a reconfiguration nearly four years ago.

“Obviously more cars presents more danger.  They wanted a whole lot of cars cause obviously this is their season finale and they wanted it to be a big deal.  Some of the people that were driving in this event yesterday had no business being in it.  Some of them had never driven on a track like this.  That was a mistake,” he said.

He said the race would likely not have that many drivers again and would likely have more requirements for younger, less experienced drivers they allow to race on a similar track.

IndyCar said via email that there were no representatives available for interviews at the time of posting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep032011

Mandatory Evacuations Issued for Californian Wildfire

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(HESPERIA, Calif.) -- Mandatory evacuations were in effect for the Cajon Pass between Los Angeles and Las Vegas after a wind-fueled brush fire—dubbed “Hill Fire”—threatened homes after it started burning Friday afternoon.

The fire charred over 1,148 acres and was 30 percent contained by Saturday, according to ABC News Los Angeles affiliate KABC-TV.

Although no flames were visible Saturday morning, firefighters reported that the fire remained a concern as increasing winds and rising temperatures were forecasted for Saturday.

While some residents began returning to their homes as winds tapered off Friday night, residents south of Mesquite Street, east of Baldy Mesa Avenue, west of Oak Hills Road and north of Cajon Pass on Interstate 15 were still under mandatory evacuation orders Saturday.

Nearly a dozen aircrafts, including a DC-10 jumbo jet tanker, and an estimated 900 firefighters were called in to help extinguish the flames.

A firefighter was reported injured as well as some local motorists who were treated for smoke inhalation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun162011

Everything Must Go: Closed Sahara Casino Selling Historical Items

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- It was an iconic Las Vegas casino that opened in 1952.  But the Sahara closed its doors last month, and through Sunday the owners are selling off all of its contents at a massive liquidation sale.

On Thursday, the first day of the sale, dozens waited in line outside of the Sahara in temperatures approaching triple digits for their chance to buy a piece of the landmark. Inside, Terry Ching was purchasing a pair of chairs from the casino floor.

"This is a piece of history," Ching said. "This was a palace at one time."

Barb Kuhla, on vacation from Florida, had her eye on one of the most popular items of the day -- a camel lamp.

The sale's organizer, Don Haze, says virtually everything is up for grabs -- from pool chairs to bedding and kitchen equipment.

Among the big-ticket items, there's even a $12,000 chandelier.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May092011

Police Hope to Resume Search for Man Missing in Wilderness

Comstock/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- Authorities hope to begin searching again for the husband of a Canadian woman who was found alive Friday after surviving nearly seven weeks alone in the Nevada wilderness.

Albert and Rita Chretien's van became hopelessly stuck in the mud miles from any major road in mid-March. On March 22, after days being stuck, Albert decided to go to find help.

Despite a search of three states and more than 3,000 square miles, there is still no sign of him. Authorities hope to resume the search Monday if weather permits.

Rita Chretien was found Friday by hunters. She had lost 30 pounds and doctors said she was days from death.

At a press conference Sunday, the couple's son said Rita Chretien rationed the bits of food she had and drank melted snow to survive. The 57-year-old Chretien built a fire pit near the van, but it was too wet to start a blaze. She huddled in her van, stuffing pages of an old phone book in the window cracks to keep the frigid air out. She spent those 48 days reading her Bible and other books.

The couple's journey began on March 19, when they left their home in British Columbia for a 1,200 mile road trip to Las Vegas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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