In September, convicted pipe bomb murderer Porfirio Duarte-Herrera escaped a Nevada prison. For four days, his escape went unreported or not noticed by law enforcement until the public and the public became aware of the dangerous fugitive.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Republican candidate for Governor Joe Lombardo, finally captured Duarte Herrera while he tried to board a shuttle to Mexico. The community was thrilled.
Lombardo’s and LVMPD’s latest victory in public safety was celebrated. Not long after Robert Telles, then-sitting official and Governor Sisolak appointee, was arrested for open murder of a journalist. Sisolak demanded that Charles Daniels, Nevada Department of Corrections Director be resigned.
Daniels’ resignation was not a major issue for me. Other issues at NDOC have been covered by me, including staff reports about a hostile work environment, lack of procedural guidelines regarding restraint device use, processing of grievances of inmates, and review of use-of-force. I was critical of early pandemic policies which denied inmates the right to wear a medical face mask while NDOC employees were pictured masked. I was critical of the fact that Return Strong, a civil rights group, had called for inmate release early. However, Nevada prisons would have the third highest Covid death rate in the country.
Hydroxychloroquine was also kept by the Department, which was made inaccessible to outpatient doctors for new prescriptions. NDOC has many problems. I did not report Daniels closing the Ely low-security conservation camps and failing to notify the legislature. This fact was not reported by me, as I believed Daniels made the right decision in the circumstances. I also gave Daniels credit for his efforts to ensure that inmate and staff safety were paramount. He should have known.
Because of the gravity of these issues, I’m not willing to allow Daniels to be held responsible for the failures in the Department during his tenure. But, I blamed the Governor first. Sisolak is a member of the Board of Prison Commissioners. The Department is directly under his control and he didn’t ask one question at the January meeting about the dangerously low staffing levels.
Daniels now wants his reputation and good name back and has come forward as a whistleblower to the governor’s office about ethical violations.
Daniels stated in a Friday morning press conference that a representative of the governor wanted him to change Duarte-Herrera’s escape timeline after the inmate was arrested. But he refused and filed an anonymous whistleblower complaint. Daniels stated,
“I wasn’t going to alter or add information that wasn’t factual, and I didn’t cover up anything.” “The governor’s office tried to keep the facts from ever being made public.”
Daniels claimed that he was told later that he would lose his job if he didn’t resign. Daniels claims that he has been subject to defamatory statements and that Sisolak made statements suggesting that there was an elaborate cover-up regarding the escape of the inmate. Daniels stated,
“Publication of egregious statements was possible because of a false narrative that the governor and his staff had previously relayed. I was accused of failing to inform law enforcement about Porfirio duarte Herrera’s escape… Governor Sisolak publicly stated that he was concerned that there was a cover up to conceal that escape.”
The governor’s office claimed that no lawsuit was filed against Daniels and accused Daniels of asking for $1 million after his resignation.
Yvanna Cancela (Sisolak’s Chief Of Staff) issued a statement
An attorney representing Charles Daniels, former Director of NDOC, wrote a demand letter to the Governor’s Office earlier this week. He demanded more than $1,000,000 in taxpayer money for what he considered an unfair end to his tenure as Director. Daniels stated in his letter that he was motivated by the nationally-watched election. He also stated that if the Office does not respond within two business days, he intends to call a press conference.
Cancela refers to the whistleblower complaint, while saying that if an investigation finds wrongdoing for the governor’s staff, they will “vigorously defend it”.
Daniels has filed a formal complaint alleging hostility from a member my staff. As required by law, the complaint was sent to the appropriate agency. The agency then engaged an independent third party to investigate. Legally, the investigation and its results are confidential. We will vigorously defend any legal action that may be taken if necessary.
I believe that both Daniels and the Governor were responsible for NDOC… In fact, it’s a fact. However, Daniels was given the benefit of doubt when he shut down the Ely conservation camp. I’m willing to listen to any whistleblower claims. Can you imagine Sisolak and his office right after he removed Telles from his position? This was because he wanted to create a false impression of another murderer fleeing, as part of his re-election campaign. Yes, that is what I can picture.
LVMPD Sheriff Joe Lombardo and civilian journalists who provided information about the escapee to the public were the real heroes of this situation. Lombardo should be responsible for reforms at NDOC. Moreover, the county detention facility under his command does not have the same problems as the state prison system. He does a better job than he did before.
Nevada’s ballot includes public safety, and Lombardo has it on his platform. These issues can be addressed by Joe Lombardo becoming our next Governor.