McCarthy rose to power in 1978 when he won the election for sheriff against incumbent Ralph Lamb; he was a one-term sheriff.
As head of Vice and Narcotics from then five-year-old Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, John McCarthy ran for sheriff against the incumbent Ralph Lamb and won.
McCarthy tried to clean up the city’s largest police department of the existent corruption and created some powerful enemies for himself and his regime, which only lasted one term. John McCarthy was the Sheriff in Clark County from 1979 to 1982, when he lost the race to the late John Moran at the end of his first term.
When Sheriff John McCarthy won the 1978 election, the people of Clark County did not know John McCarthy, and they did not vote for John McCarthy; they simply voted against Ralph Lamb to end an era they considered had lasted far too long.
John McCarthy was born on March 4, 1934, in Union City, New Jersey. He enlisted in the Marines in 1953, and was honorably discharged in 1956.
McCarthy was hired as an officer by the Las Vegas Police Department in September of that year. He served in a number of assignments in his career and rose through the ranks to Commander in 1975.