Back in the ’60s I met a lieutenant with the old police department, before it merged with the sheriff’s office back in 1973; he was the head of the vice and narcotics unit, and his name was John Sleeper.
I met Lieutenant Sleeper after I wrote an article in the old La Verdad Spanish Newspaper, defending two police detectives that I should not have defended — but at the time, I did not know that one of those detectives, by the name of Max Huggins, was a criminal, an unethical, abusive and corrupted piece of garbage.
Anyway, Lieutenant Sleeper made an arrest in a house that was selling drugs to students of our local schools.
The house was as protected as my own is; gates and iron bars all over the house, and Sleeper and his guys went in on a flower delivery truck full of cops and arrested the two sisters that were related to a powerful political figure.
The two ladies made statements to the media that they did not understand how they were arrested after all the money they have donated to the sheriff’s campaign.
Days later Lieutenant Sleeper was transferred from head of vice and narcotics to a graveyard shift behind a desk for making an arrest outside the city police jurisdiction.
I wrote an editorial stating that if anyone does something for the safety and protection of our children, it should not make any
difference if they wear a blue uniform (police) or brown uniform (sheriff) and the jurisdiction of those protecting our community
should not be an issue or a matter of concern to anyone.
Lieutenant Sleeper ran for Sheriff against Ralph Lamb and I went on to support Sleeper to hopefully become the next sheriff of Clark County, but he lost.
A few years later, when another head of vice and narcotics by the name of John McCarthy, from a then five-year-old Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, ran for sheriff against Ralph Lamb, I supported him and we endorsed his candidature for sheriff.
McCarthy, to everybody’s surprise, won the election and became the worst one-term sheriff of all times.
I built some kind of relationship with the new sheriff; he used to visit my home and I was always welcome to the METRO city hall headquarters… until I disagreed with him on two issues.
That is the problem that we have with many of the sheriffs elected in our community: the people around the elected official right away try to seclude the new sheriff and create another dictator. On most occasions it’s not the sheriff — or any public official for that matter — but the people that surround the elected official.
That was one thing that Ralph Lamb has in his favor; he probably was the most accessible sheriff that Clark County ever had.
If anyone wanted to talk to the sheriff all they had to do was to be at the sheriff’s office at five in the morning (like all cowboys, Ralph Lamb was an early riser) and most likely he would make time to hear what you wanted or had to say.
Anyone who was not able to get up that early in the morning would have another chance, later in the day, by stopping by at the old Thunderbird Hotel and chances were they would find the sheriff at the Oyster Bar having lunch.
One thing about Ralph Lamb that came natural to him: the sheriff never wasted your time, didn’t lie to you and didn’t waste anyone’s time.
Once I approached Sheriff Lamb on behalf of someone I knew that was in a little bit of trouble and the sheriff straight forward told me, “Rolando, ask me anything but that; there is nothing I would do about this case.” I thanked him and left feeling as much respect and admiration for him as I felt for his brother, Senator Floyd Lamb.
McCarthy allowed a child molester to leave his jurisdiction and go back to his country of origin before appearing in court with the help of a secretary with then District Attorney Rex Bell.
The other issue that ended my friendship with Sheriff John McCarthy was the cold treatment he gave Undersheriff John Moran when he was forced to reincorporate him after he fired Moran.
I met Moran when he was the Las Vegas Police Chief and I tried to fistfight him, but that is a story for another day that I promise to tell my readers because Sheriff Moran was two times my height and in better shape than I have ever been in or would be.
One day I told McCarthy that I thought he was doing wrong by treating John Moran the way he was treating him, and he said to me, “You are
right, Rolando; let me see what I can do about that,” and I never spoke to him or saw him again.
I was having lunch at the Sahara Hotel with someone I knew when John and Goldie Moran walked in; the man I was sitting with covered his face so Moran would not recognize him and reminded me that Moran was no longer the under-sheriff.
I waited until the couple was seated and I walked to their table. I shook hands with John Moran and kissed his wife, Goldie, on the cheek.
They both told me of John’s intention of running for sheriff and I offered my help, just as I did in his first race.
Later John Moran betrayed our friendship and allowed some of his corrupted allies to harm me and did nothing about it because I refused to do what they wanted me to do after casino-owner Steve Wynn and Sheriff John Moran had a falling out.
Wynn had fired Moran’s two sons from the Mirage Casino and Moran wanted to get even so he gathered the best guns METRO had at the time to go after Wynn and to talk to anyone that could give them any dirt on the casino-man.
They told me that if I didn’t have any dirt on Steve Wynn or Charles Myerson, I could create or fabricate some. I refused and I paid the consequences.
Next week I will continue with the three sheriffs left and why they all have their ups and downs with me, but I have the feeling, with the exception of Doug Gillespie, the other sheriffs have some kind of respect for me because they know I don’t look for the spotlight; I am not chasing publicity and I stay in the background; the only time my pictures have been publicized is recently, when Chief Judge Bert Brown unintentionally posted a picture of us together.
Sheriff Keller and Young deep inside know that I try to do the right thing and that is why they put up with me because they realize that if they tell me their side of the story I will correct any wrong I may have done. I consider myself man enough to rectify any mistakes that I may have made in trying to do my job the right way.
My name is Rolando Larraz, and as always, I approved this column.
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