Part 21 in a Series
way. Unfortunately for all citizens and residents of Nevada, and by extension, the rest of this once-great nation, the Clark County district attorney’s office has not been performing up to standards required by justice and defined by state and federal laws.
In simple terms, breaking laws makes a person a criminal. Most of us break laws, so most of us are technically criminals. In religious
venues it is said that everyone is a sinner; in secular terms we readily accept the equivalent that everyone is a criminal — a lawbreaker at one time or another.
We rely on public employees in the district attorney’s office to administer justice to the best of their abilities in the most judicious manner possible. We consider this a matter of public interest, public safety and a deterrent to future hardships for potential victims of crime. We rely on people who betray public trust placed in them, and those criminals govern themselves while they enrich themselves at our expense. We now rely on people, including Clark County District Attorney Steven Wolfson, who use the authority of office to squash pleas and petitions for justice while proclaiming themselves to be the sole arbiters of justice.
Other writers for this publication, the Las Vegas Tribune, have recently reported practices of staff members of the district attorney’s office that are violations of law. Prosecutors lie to obtain convictions. Prosecutors initiate charges against persons known to be innocent of crimes and sometimes drop those charges when, according to Steven Wolfson, the fact of a person’s innocence “cannot be overcome” with trickery perpetrated by prosecutors. In other words, deceit and lying by politically ambitious prosecutors do not always succeed in obtaining desired results.
Recently Steven Wolfson was elected to the office of district attorney by a wide margin. Having been subjected to a season of advertisement
overkill for months leading up to the election, I can’t recall a single ad for his opponent. Yet, every time I witnessed his countenance on television I was aware that if every voter knew what we know about Wolfson he would have no chance whatsoever of being elected. As my brother-in-law in Israel has ironically stated, “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.” The company that Wolfson keeps might best be condensed, no disrespect intended, in the form of his wife, former Clark County district court judge Jackie Glass.
On March 23, 2006, Cynthia Turner had a court appointment in Clark County justice court to face charges that she had conspired to steal from her former employer, New York-New York Hotel and Casino. During the night of April 14-15, 2005, it was alleged, Turner had conspired
with her son, the late Jason Turner-Shenker, to cheat at a roulette table at which she was dealing. Details of this incident are reported in a blog by Shannon Snow, found here: http://jrshenkertrust.
Operating with a philosophy obviously shared by the district attorney’s office, that “the end justifies the means,” NGCB agents made arrests that required manufacture of false and exceedingly weak “evidence” that had no chance of prevailing in court. Less than twelve hours after Jason Turner plead not guilty to charges against him, the young man was murdered in his home. We have every reason to believe, supported by sufficient factual evidence, that there is a direct connection between that not guilty plea and its subsequent trial in district court and the fact of his death. A trial with a fair and vigorous defense would have necessarily exposed the conspiracy behind Jason’s arrest, the manufacture of false evidence, involvement of NGCB agents and MGM’s New York-New York Casino management in machinations that led to two arrests and involvement of others yet unnamed in a conspiracy to make false arrests that ultimately ended in murder.
Just four days shy of six months after Jason Turner-Shenker entered his fateful plea of not guilty, Cynthia Turner was to have her opportunity to enter a plea pertinent to her related yet quite dissimilar charges. She was scheduled to appear in Judge Lippis’ courtroom in Justice Court on March 23, 2006. Her attorney, Daniel Albregt, asked her to arrive at least half an hour early. She waited outside the courtroom on a bench facing its double doors. Albregt poked his head out of a side chamber near the entrance. He gestured secretly for her to approach. She did so, and was whisked into the room roughly by Albregt, who had barely opened the door widely enough for the very petite Turner to enter. She passed two mysterious men to the side of the room as Albregt hurried her forcefully toward a judge’s bench. She stood by Albregt’s side as a woman with pinned back black hair, no makeup and a stern look asked Turner quickly, “How do you plead?”
Strangely, Turner has no recollection of being asked how she plead to specific charges. No charges were read to her, according to her memory. Turner began to protest and answered, “This is all wrong! I’ve done nothing wrong.” Within seconds, Albregt answered for Turner, “Your honor, my client pleads no contest.” Turner was stunned. Trying to recover her senses, Turner asked, “What just happened?” The woman on the bench replied by leaning over the edge of the high table and scowled; displaying a contemptuous, threatening manner that convinced Turner she was quite determined on a single outcome, as biased as a person could be in those circumstances.
What had just happened was that Albregt had negotiated a plea deal that Turner had rejected repeatedly over the previous ten months. In chambers, without Turner’s consent, Albregt had cut a deal to avoid Cynthia Turner going to trial. While Albregt was whispering to her
harshly in muffled tones to “just write a check for $500 and be quiet,” Turner was suppressing a desire to tell the judge that she was being railroaded. The judge on the bench had leaned forward and threatened Turner with contempt of court charges moments before.
Everyone in the small room, except Turner, was obviously in a hurry to get this matter closed and disappear. The two men to the side witnessed the charade in silence, sitting against a wall a man’s-width apart. No words were said as Turner handed the check to a bailiff, followed by Albregt rushing her out of the room as briskly as possible.
Outside that courtroom, Turner unleashed a bit of fury at Albregt, demanding to know just what had happened. “Didn’t you look at the tape?” Turner yelled at Albregt. She was referring to a video tape supplied by NY-NY Casino that had been spliced together. Some segments were of spanning a room, some were zooming in and out on persons throughout a casino floor, and each part was from a different camera angle. Not the slightest bit of video evidence of anyone cheating was to be seen, let alone by either Jason or Cynthia Turner. Albregt told Turner to be quiet, lest she be overheard. He acted like a man in intense fear until he hurriedly dragged Turner outside the building and parted from her with a loud dramatic gesture. As they hit the steps of the courthouse at 200 Lewis Street, Albregt rushed away.
Turner called after him, and he kept walking. She raised her voice to exclaim, “Albregt!” Without so much as the courtesy of turning to look
at Turner, Albregt threw his hands up in the air and said quite loudly, “I am no longer your attorney!” He walked away without saying another word.
After she related this story at least a third time, I asked Turner if she was certain that Lippis was sitting on the bench that day. Her description of the judge present in the small chamber was quite vivid.
It didn’t seem to be Lippis, based on her detailed physical description of the woman on the bench. Nothing she described gave an impression of an ordinary arraignment or court proceeding. It appeared to be more pertinent to a secret session rather than an open court session. The fact that Albregt was furtive and seemed intent that no one peer into the small side chamber also raised suspicion, as he’d been careful not to open the door wide enough for a passerby to peek inside. “I’ll never forget her face,” Turner asserted with conviction.
I showed Cynthia photos of Judge Lippis. She asked me, “And who is that?”
After explaining that it was Judge Lippis, Turner said, “Oh, no.
That’s not the woman I saw that day. She’s not the person who treated me so contemptuously. Not even losing the weight would give her the
facial features I saw.”
After flipping through a few other pictures of judges in Clark County, Turner said, “That’s the hostile face I saw leaning over the table at me. Who is that?” We were looking at a picture of Judge Jackie Glass.
Carefully examining several more photos of Jackie Glass deepened Turner’s conviction that Glass had substituted for Lippis that morning. The prosecutor had been a rookie, less than a year out of law school and unaware of what was taking place, we hope. But Albregt had to know that something incredibly wrong had been planned and executed that day. He partook willingly. Laws were broken. A sitting judge had participated in a deception that is so rare that I’ve been unable to find a description for it in legal terms. Obstruction of justice and obstruction of due processes of law come to mind.
Cynthia Turner had no intention of pleading guilty to charges for which she was absolutely certain of her innocence. At that time she had not yet made a connection between the plea her son had entered pertinent to similar charges and his sudden death. The meaning of Albregt’s words, “This is for your own good, trust me!” had escaped Turner. That her entering a plea of not guilty to those charges would have resulted in her own death did not cross her mind at that time, and not for years to come. But Albregt knew much more than he ever let on, including who the unidentified men in that court’s side room were, and perhaps who they reported to. On reflection, Turner believes that Albregt knew enough to fear them.
Since we know now that in 2006 Judge Jackie Glass was married to then Clark County councilman Steven Wolfson, we know more about Wolfson than was known when Mary Beth Scow maneuvered him into the district attorney’s office. Perhaps Scow knew nothing of Glass substituting for Lippis in the Turner case. Then again, perhaps she has known, and has been a medium for a favor owed to the Wolfson-Glass team. Wolfson’s sudden candidacy for the district attorney desk was a surprise to many, after all, and so was the outcome of the Clark County commission vote that put him into the top prosecutor’s seat, head of “the largest law firm in the state of Nevada.”
Wolfson has won an election. So what? His most intimate associates, including his wife, invite the harshest of suspicions for past deeds.
Present and future deeds will be cause for yet greater concern and critical scrutiny if Wolfson’s characteristic moral ambiguity continues.
This story will continue in future segments of the Turner-Shenker story. Next week: How Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy has abused
his office and obstructed justice.
Thomas A. Nagy is the author of Cannabis Consumer Handbook available at Amazon.com, and the blog ReGeneration at blogspot.com. Email direct at: firstname.lastname@example.org.