Friday, May 7, 2010 | 12:47 p.m.
The Nye County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating allegations of embezzlement against the county's district attorney, fired back Friday after District Attorney Robert Beckett said authorities misinterpreted the law and his use of donations from a bad check program.
Beckett was arrested Wednesday after police say he was using money from a bad check program to help fund programs that benefited his family members. Authorities said the funds also went to individuals to help with financial problems.
He was booked into the Nye County Detention Center on charges of malfeasance of office, embezzlement, 20 counts of fraudulent appropriation of property and 20 counts of misconduct of a public officer. Bail was set at $207,500. Beckett has since been released on his own recognizance.
On Thursday, Beckett spoke out against the allegations during a news conference in Pahrump. Beckett said former Chief Civil Deputy District Attorney Ron Kent was in charge of the account, but police said Beckett didn't mention this information during an interview with investigators.
The sheriff's office responded Friday, releasing additional details about where the money allegedly went.
Nye County authorities say Beckett donated $6,000 to the Pahrump Valley cheerleading squad for the purchase of uniforms and helping to send cheerleaders to competition. Beckett's wife was a coach of the squad and his children were participants of the program, authorities said.
Police said Beckett also made payments to people to help them with personal financial problems. Authorities allege he used $1,700 to pay off a vehicle loan for someone using funds in the account. Deputies said the individual's family had a relationship with Beckett's family.
The investigation also revealed that $700 was written to cash with no documentation indicating where the money went, authorities said.
Officials began an investigation after the Nye County Sheriff’s Office was approached by Nye County Treasurer Gary Budahl, who asked for help in auditing the district attorney’s Bad Check Program bank account because Becket allegedly wouldn't comply.
The program contains funds recovered from bad checks. It is run through the district attorney’s office, and Beckett had control of where to distribute the funds, police said. Officers obtained a search warrant and are examining the account. Financial records were seized during the search.
Nye County sheriff's spokesman David Boruchowitz said it unknown how much money is in question. An audit is being conducted on the account, he said.
According to Nevada law, Beckett is only allowed to disperse funds from the account to help defray costs of a program or to help crime victims. Beckett has served as the Nye County district attorney for 15 years.