Gibbons Facing FBI Probe of eTreppid Contacts

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The FBI is investigating whether Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons failed to properly report gifts or payments from a software company that was awarded secret military contracts when Gibbons was in Congress, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Investigators are looking at whether federal contracting rules were violated or whether gifts or payments offered in exchange for official acts by Gibbons, the paper said.

Agent David Staretz, spokesman for the FBI office in Las Vegas, said Thursday he could neither confirm nor deny an investigation was underway.

Gibbons, a Republican, was sworn in last month as governor after five terms in Congress, where he served on the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees.

He asked the House ethics committee in November for an opinion about whether he improperly reported private jet flights and a Caribbean cruise paid for by businessman Warren Trepp, owner of eTreppid Technologies LLC.

The Reno-based company has millions of dollars worth of classified federal software contracts from the Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Journal reported new evidence had emerged in a federal court lawsuit in Reno, including e-mails to Trepp discussing a payment or gifts to then-Rep. Gibbons. The e-mails also show Gibbons using his
congressional office to help the firm seek classified military and civilian contracts.

"Please don't forget to bring the money you promised Jim and Dawn," Trepp's wife, JalDe Trepp, said in a March 22, 2005, e-mail days before Trepp and his wife embarked on the Caribbean cruise with Jim Gibbons and his wife, Dawn, a former Nevada state assemblywoman.

Minutes later, Mr. Trepp responds, "Don't you ever send this kind of message to me! Erase this message from your computer right now!"

Mr. Gibbons failed to disclose the cruise and travel on Mr. Trepp's leased private jet, as required by House ethics rules. He later asked the House Ethics Committee for an exemption, but left office before any action was taken.

Trepp and Gibbons have denied wrongdoing, and no charges have
been filed.

In a statement Wednesday, a spokesman for the governor said Mr.
Gibbons has "consistently stated that he and Warren Trepp have a
long-standing friendship."

Gibbons, the statement said, was proud of his efforts "to highlight the good work of Nevada companies as part of his duties to represent his constituents. However, he held no special power in awarding defense contracts, which go through a multilevel approval process."

Trepp, a former chief trader for convicted junk-bond dealer Michael Milken, didn't return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment.

His attorney, Steven Peek, said Trepp "has had no inquires or questions from any federal officials about his relationship with Jim Gibbons."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)