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November 25, 2014

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Employee accused of ringing up $250K on state credit card to support gambling habit

FALLON — A Nevada Department of Transportation employee in Fallon has been charged with using a state credit card to support his gambling habit.

Tal Pierre Smith is accused of using the credit card to buy about $250,000 worth of items he later pawned or sold to pay for the activity.

A six-count indictment was filed against Smith this week in New River Township Justice Court in Fallon, the Nevada Appeal reported.

According to the complaint, Smith made repeated illegal purchases over a three-year period ending last December and concealed them by altering receipts and other records.

They were discovered when a chain saw was delivered to the transportation department's Fallon facility while Smith was on a hunting trip. Transportation department officials discovered the invoice had been altered, and an investigation was launched.

Fallon police assisted in the investigation and generated a list of 76 transactions at pawnshops and secondhand equipment businesses throughout western Nevada.

Attorney General's Investigator Wayne Fazzino, in a declaration of probable cause, said Smith told him "'he has a gambling problem and that he used the monies he generated from NDOT purchases to fund his gambling addiction."

Smith was charged with four counts of theft and one count each of misconduct by a public officer and fraudulent appropriation of property, all felonies. The theft charges, which are the most serious, each are punishable by one to 10 years in prison.

Smith's home telephone has been disconnected, and it wasn't clear whether he has an attorney.

According to court records, state investigators recovered more than a dozen tools from Smith's property that he had kept.

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