Storey County Sheriff keeps his position after recall election

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VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. (KOLO) UPDATE APRIL 11: Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro will remain sheriff after today's recall vote. Of the 1484 people who voted, 601 people voted to remove Antinoro and 883 people voted for him to stay.

4/4/2017 UPDATE:
Storey County Commissioner Lance Gilman, owner of the Mustang Ranch and heavily involved in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center east of Sparks, has recused himself from helping to choose a new sheriff if Sheriff Gerald Antinoro is recalled.

TRI has publicly endorsed the recall effort, but a spokesman for Gilman and TRI says the recusal is an effort to make sure the public knows the recall has nothing to do with protecting Gilman or his business interests.

Spokesman Kris Thompson says, “To totally eliminate the concern about Antinoro’s bogus claim, Gilman and TRI are taking aggressive action here to reassure voters that the recall has nothing to do with protecting Lance, the Mustang, or TRI. Nothing at all. These actions by Lance and TRI are unprecedented in Storey County, and confirms what we have been saying all along, we are here to have the back of the voters who Antinoro has pushed around, intimidated, and mistreated and nothing else. It’s about helping the people in this County who’ve had our back for 16 years,” Thompson said.

Gilman's recusal letter, and a similar letter from TRI developer Don Roger Norman, are attached to this story.

The recall election is scheduled for April 11.

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3/13/2017 UPDATE:
A special election to determine whether Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro will be recalled is set for April 11, 2017.

Registration to vote in that election closes March 25. Requests for Absentee Ballots must be submitted in writing to the Storey County Clerk’s Office by Tuesday, April 4. Absentee ballots must be received by the County Clerk by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, April 11.

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3/8/2017 UPDATE: Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro says he's not legally contesting a recall election because it's too expensive. He told KOLO 8 News Now his lawyers say he has reasons to challenge the recall, but he doesn't have the money, saying it would cost about $20,000.

A date for the recall election will be set the week of March 13.

No one has filed a notice of intent to run to replace Antinoro in case he is recalled, but potential candidates have until 20 days before the election to file notices of intent. Each candidate must have 477 signatures of support.

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2/24/2017 UPDATE: A move to get enough signatures to force an election to recall Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro has been deemed successful.

The Storey County Clerk/Registrar of Voters has certified 491 signatures, more than 100% of the necessary 477 signatures, which is 25% of the votes cast in the last county election. The Secretary of State's office has confirmed those results.

Antinoro has until March 3, 2017 to contest the results. If that happens, if will go to Storey District Court for a resolution. If not, the Registrar of Voters has 30 days to schedule an election, which would be a simple "yes or no" vote regarding whether to recall the sheriff.

Antinoro says he will contest the recall in court, saying he "won't succumb to the accusations of a handful of special interests who don't want to play by the rules." But he says if the recall continues and he is ousted, he will accept the will of the people.

The cost of the election would be about $25,000, which would be paid by the county.

Other potential candidates can also petition to be part of that election, to replace Antinoro if he is recalled. If that doesn't happen, the County Commission would name someone to fill the seat until 2018, when Antinoro's current term is up.

Antinoro was first elected to the post in 2010.

The move for a recall is based on allegations of sexual harassment and a campaign ethics violation.

“We are happy to have supported all the voters in Storey County who feel an immediate change is necessary in the Sheriff’s Office,” said Kris Thompson, the spokesman for the recall effort. “We tee’d this up and resourced the coordination for the recall effort and the Storey County voters have spoken clearly and loudly that Antinoro must go.”

“After having success in the first two phases of the recall process, we are now entering Phase III of the recall effort – which is the campaign for the recall election, which should be held in the coming weeks,” Thompson continued. “We will be focusing on the key reason for the recall, which is Antinoro’s need to abuse his power and intimidate and push people around using his badge as a political weapon. This has resulted in repeated acts of sexual harassment, mistreatment of women, skyrocketing budgets, and ethical problems with the Nevada Ethics Commission. Antinoro is the last remaining vestige of the “old way” of doing business in Storey County,” said Thompson.

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ORIGINAL STORY:
Barely a week after the election, there's a political battle brewing in Storey County and it could send voters there back to the polls in the coming months.

A recall petition targeting Sheriff Gerald Antinoro is about to get underway.

The recall effort is being fronted by a group of local citizens, but beyond that it's a dispute that pits this small county's biggest economic engine and a county commissioner against its principal law enforcement officer.

Among the charges against the two-term sheriff are a sexual harassment claim. The details of the harassment claim have not been released, but recall spokesman Kris Thompson says the details are "awful."

"The issue is his abuse of his power with these folks. And sexual harassment as you know is not about sex it's about power."

"I felt like I was talking to a friend and a confidant," says Antinoro. "This was not solicitation or anything like that. It was talking about issues in my personal life which had absolutely nothing to do with the office of sheriff."

The claim ended with the employee--a 17-year veteran of the force--being terminated and the county creating a new position for her.

Thompson says Antinoro failed to show for sexual harassment training that followed. Antinoro says there was a scheduling conflict. In any case he says he's been through that training before and takes the issue seriously.

There's also an ethics complaint against Antinoro relating to his endorsement of a congressional candidate this past election. Thompson says it was issued on county letterhead. "That's Ethics 101."

Antinoro says he made it clear the endorsement was personal and did not involve the county or his department. The candidate, Michelle Fiori, lost in her bid for a southern Nevada congressional seat.

The Notice of Intent to launch the recall effort was signed by three local residents, but the effort has the backing of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.

The press release announcing it was sent by TRI principal and now-County Commissioner Lance Gilman's public relations representative.

It's known that there has been friction between the two men over the operation of Gilman's other enterprise, the Mustang Brothel. The sheriff's office inspects the brothel and there may have been a problem at times with some employees not having work cards.

Thompson says the company behind the industrial development is backing the effort, but denies Gilman is personally involved.

"This has nothing to do with Lance or the Mustang Ranch. TRI is supporting this and we are totally up front. We're public about it. We're proud to be supporting this recall effort."

The recall committee has 90 days to gather 477 signatures. That's 25 percent of the votes cast in the last election.

"There are 4200 people in this county and every one of them deserve to have their voices heard," says Antinoro. "They made their voices heard six years ago. They made their voices heard two years ago. If they've changed their minds and they decide they no longer want me to be their sheriff, so be it. but it's not going to be TRI that calls the shots; it's going to be the citizens of Storey County."