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Testimony: No warrant for FBI ruse in Vegas case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada casino regulator told a federal judge that investigators spent hours briefing a federal prosecutor, but never told a judge they posed as Internet repairmen to gain entry to high-roller suites at Caesars Palace.

The ruse gained information that helped investigators get a warrant leading to arrests in what prosecutors say was an illegal online sports gambling operation.

Like other witnesses, Nevada Gaming Control Board Agent Ricardo Lopez testified Wednesday they had no warrant when they disabled Internet service and dressed as repairmen to get inside.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen previously heard FBI agent Minh Pham acknowledge failing to tell another judge that a ruse was used.

Defense attorneys want evidence against a Malaysian businessman and his son thrown out as the product of an illegal search.


Nightlife king faces queries from gaming regulator

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Los Angeles nightlife entrepreneur who revamped the Sahara Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip into a hipper, sleeker destination is facing another interrogation into past misdeeds as he seeks a gambling license.

Sam Nazarian and the majority owner of the SLS Las Vegas announced this week that he won't have any role in the day-to-day operations in the meantime.

That comes after the 39-year-old hospitality businessman made a lengthy appearance before the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Dec. 3. He admitted using cocaine and making about $3 million in payments akin to blackmail to felons, including record producer Marion "Suge" Knight.

Nazarian is scheduled to appear Thursday before the Nevada Gaming Commission, which aims to keep the state's gambling industry clean.

He needs regulators' approval because he owns 10 percent of the hotel and casino.


Vegas breaks own record with 40 million visitors

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas tourism officials say 40 million people have visited the destination in 2014, breaking an all-time record for the gambling and entertainment hub.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced Wednesday that the record number of visitors had been reached that day.

The agency's spokeswoman Courtney Fitzgerald says the number includes overnight stays — not day-trippers — so the group's research team works hand in hand with the destination's hotels to tabulate the monthly and annual visitor counts.

Tourism officials say the destination got close in 2012 with more than 39.7 million visitors that year.

In each month from January to October, the destination has had more visitors than the year prior.

Convention attendance and the number of airline passengers is also exceeding 2013 figures.


Vegas council OKs soccer stadium funding proposal

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Las Vegas City Council has approved a plan to build a publicly subsidized soccer stadium if the city can snag a professional team.

Councilmembers voted 4-3 on Wednesday to contribute $25 million toward bonds to construct the $200 million downtown stadium. The city has also committed an additional $31.5 million to infrastructure improvements.

Baltimore-based developer Cordish Cos. and local partner Findlay Sports and Entertainment have been working on their financing proposal since May. A vote has been postponed several times, with council members balking at using public money.

The partially covered 24,000-seat stadium is being designed to host a professional soccer team if the developers win a Major League Soccer franchise. Minneapolis and Sacramento, California, also seek an expansion team.


Yerington man killed in SR208 rollover

YERINGTON, Nev. (AP) — The Nevada Highway Patrol is investigating a single-vehicle rollover accident that claimed the life of a 58-year-old Yerington man earlier this week.

The patrol says Mark Allen Thorpe was traveling east on State Route 208 about 26 miles south of Yerington when he lost control of his 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser and drifted off the road about 7 p.m. Monday.

The preliminary investigation indicates he overcorrected, but ran across the other side of the road and into a field where his car struck an irrigation pipe and overturned.

The patrol said in a statement Wednesday it's not known yet if drugs or alcohol were a factor the crash.

Thorpe was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle.

Anyone with information is asked to contact NHP at 775-463-7799.


High court dismisses case against state Sen. Denis

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Nevada Supreme Court says a lower court was right to dismiss a case challenging state employees who also serve in the Legislature.

The high court issued a decision this week in an appeal filed by the conservative think tank Nevada Policy Research Institute.

NPRI had challenged the constitutionality of Democratic state Sen. Mo Denis of Las Vegas serving in the Legislature because he also worked as a computer technician for the state Public Utilities Commission.

Denis then resigned, and a state judge in Carson City declared the case moot.

NPRI argued that the case should be heard in spite of Denis' resignation because it was in the public's interest, but the supreme court denied the request and said the plaintiff lacked proper standing.


Sandoval appoints 3 judges to new court of appeals

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Gov. Brian Sandoval has appointed three judges to serve on Nevada's newly created court of appeals.

They include Eighth District Court Judge Jerry Tao, who worked in the district attorney's and public defender's offices in Clark County before Sandoval appointed him to the bench in Las Vegas in 2011.

The second appointment is Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Michael Patrick Gibbons. He worked in the Douglas County District Attorney's Office before being elected to the bench in Minden four times.

The third selection is Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Abbi Silver, who worked in Las Vegas Municipal Court and Las Vegas Township Justice Court before being elected to district court in 2009.

Voters approved a measure in November to create an intermediate appeals court to lighten the Supreme Court's workload.


Nevada regulators again reject tribal solar plant

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada utility regulators have again rejected a plan for utility company NV Energy to buy solar power from a proposed solar generation station on Moapa River Paiute Indian Reservation outside Las Vegas.

Public Utilities Commission of Nevada action on Wednesday followed initial rejection of the plan in October.

The commission wants the utility to seek competitive bids to buy 54 megawatts of electricity.

The Moapa solar project was projected to cost $438 million and generate up to 200 megawatts.

Proponents including the Sierra Club say it'll be needed when NV Energy shuts down the nearby coal-fired Reid Gardner generating station by the end of 2017.

The state Bureau of Consumer Protection calls the state PUC decision a win for consumers because it'll help ensure that customers don't overpay.


The Cosmopolitan hotel-casino names new CEO

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas Strip is hiring William McBeath to be the hotel-casino's new president and CEO after the property's $1.73 billion sale to Blackstone Group is complete.

The company announced McBeath's arrival Wednesday, about a week after CEO John Unwin announced his departure.

McBeath most recently led private equity firm Z Capital Partners and was president and chief operating officer of CityCenter before that.

CityCenter is co-owned by MGM Resorts and is a complex of hotels and casinos physically connected to The Cosmopolitan.

McBeath was also president and chief operating officer of The Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio.

Company officials will appear in front of the Nevada Gaming Commission Thursday morning to seek approval to transfer gambling licenses from Deutsche Bank to the new owner.


Political columnist Ralston joining Reno newspaper

(Information in the following story is from: Reno Gazette-Journal,

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Longtime Nevada political columnist Jon Ralston is joining the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Executive editor Kelly Scott announced on the newspaper's web site Wednesday that Ralston will begin writing exclusive columns for RGJ Media on Jan. 7. They'll appear on and in the paper's Wednesday and Sunday editions.

Ralston is a former reporter for the Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His "Ralston Reports" television show ran for nearly 14 years in Las Vegas, Reno and Elko before the Sinclair Broadcast Group ended it earlier this month.

Ralston wrote on his political blog Wednesday he's "very excited about joining the RGJ team just in time for THE GREATEST LEGISLATIVE SESSION EVER."


Sierra Nevada College president resigns

(Information in the following story is from: North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.)

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. (AP) — Sierra Nevada College President Lynn Gillette has abruptly resigned and the school's executive vice president has been named as his temporary replacement.

The North Lake Tahoe Bonanza reports that the college's board of trustees announced the move in a statement Tuesday, explaining only that Gillette is leaving "to pursue other interests."

SNC Trustee Bob Hall told the newspaper it's a personnel matter and the terms of his departure are sealed.

Shannon Beets, the current executive vice president and provost, will serve as interim president during the search for a permanent replacement at the four-year, liberal arts college in Incline Village.

Gillette was appointed president in November 2011, a month after Richard Rubsamen resigned. He'd served as executive president and provost for more than three years before that.

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