An understanding of his job.
Las Vegas Review Journal
July 21, 1996
The Review-Journal has reported
that County Treasurer Mark Aston used public money, and allowed others
to use public money, to purchase items for private use, such as video
games, and to make other purchases not authorized by the county budget.
When they were caught, most (but not all) of the money was paid back.
The Review-Journal quotes District
Attorney Stewart Bell saying that no crime has been committed because
some of the money wasn't converted to Mr. Aston's "own use" and everyone
says they intended to pay it back, anyway.
It's a felony or a misdemeanor,
depending on the amount, when a public officer "uses ... public money
for his own private purposes, or for any pur pose other than one authorized
by law." (NRS Chapter 204)
Mr. Bell is flat out wrong when
he says it's a crime only if you convert the money to your own use. It's
a crime to use public money for any purpose "other than one authorized
He's wrong again when he suggests
it's not a crime to take out a five-finger loan of public money. It's
a crime to "use" public money for any period of time for any unauthorized
If Mr. Aston and his friends can
take out such loans at public risk and expense, why can't everyone else?
He's wrong a third time when he
suggests that it's a crime only if you don't pay the money back when you're
caught. Try robbing a convenience store and telling the arresting officer
that everything's OK now that they have the money back.
Mr. Bell is wrong a fourth time
when he argues that he can't get a conviction of a public officer who
says he intended to pay the money back. In fact, such a statement is a
highly incriminating admission that forecloses the only legal excuse -
that the misappropriation was "accidental, inadvertent, or innocent."
Mr. Bell has'everything he needs
to get a conviction.
Except an understanding of his