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Former assemblyman fails to make payments on settlement

Updated Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011 | 9:41 p.m.

Former Assemblyman Wendell Williams may be out of elected office, but he still hasn't made good on fines and repayments to the state of Nevada and city of Las Vegas related to the controversies that helped push him from office.

Williams has not made his required $100-a-month payment to the secretary of state's office since August 2009, as called for in a $15,000 settlement agreement reached in 2003 for failing to file his campaign expense reports. The $9,500 he still owes the state's general fund was first reported Tuesday by the Nevada Appeal.

But the state may have to get in line to collect its debt.

Williams, a former city of Las Vegas employee, still owes the city $1,940.29, according to a city spokesman. At one time, he owed $8,600 for personal use of a city-issued cell phone and billing the city for hours he didn't work. After forwarding that debt to a collection agency proved unsuccessful, the city wrote off the debt in 2007.

Williams, reached Tuesday night, said such problems with the secretary of states office are “so common.”

His wife Zelda Williams said in 2009, she asked for a receipt or an audit of how much her husband owed, but never heard back.

“Where does it go? I talked to several people about that. They wouldn’t give me an audit,” she said. “Give me a break."

She said she sent a check Saturday, after getting a notarized letter on Nov. 1.

Wendell Williams, asked about the debt owed to the city, said: “I left the city in 2003. If you’re going to badger me with some type of story, go right ahead.” He then hung up.

Secretary of State Ross Miller forwarded the $9,500 in debt to the attorney general's office for collection Tuesday, and said he intended to collect attorneys fees and other costs.

Miller said in a statement, "Mr. Williams' failure to file campaign contribution and expense reports ... is not something we take lightly."

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto settled a separate campaign finance complaint against former Assemblyman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, last month. He was charged with not reporting $121,500 in campaign checks that he deposited into his personal account. He originally faced six felonies, but Masto reached a plea agreement where Arberry agreed to make restitution and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Arberry's agreement, like Williams', stipulates to a minimum payment of $100 a month.

Thom Gover, a chief deputy attorney general, said a judge is overseeing Arberry's compliance with the settlement agreement. Arberry, if found in contempt, could serve up to 25 days in jail, Gover said.

Masto was criticized for letting Arberry off with such a light penalty. But Gover said, "I think the AG's office has demonstrated how aggressively we will pursue this." He noted the case was not settled in a civil proceeding. The case is up for a status check in April.

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