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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Nevada

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 18, 2019

Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Sentenced To More Than Two Years In Prison For Misusing $250,000 Of Donor Money For Personal Expenses

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Former Nevada State Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson was sentenced today to more than two years in federal prison for misusing at least $249,900 of campaign donor money on personal expenses including opening a Las Vegas nightclub, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada, Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI Las Vegas Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Ismael Nevarez Jr. for the IRS Criminal Investigation.

“In the Silver State, virtually all public officials serve with integrity, honesty, and humility. But when a public servant violates the public’s trust, federal prosecutors in my office stand ready to pursue justice,” said United States Attorney Trutanich. “The defendant admitted using campaign donations to fund a lavish lifestyle, and the Court determined a 27-month term of federal imprisonment was just and appropriate.”

“The FBI is proud to work with our exceptional partners, like IRS Criminal Investigations, in ensuring those in public office do not betray their oaths or their responsibility to the people they serve,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Rouse. “Nevada citizens should be reassured we will continue to persistently investigate elected officials who choose to exploit the public’s trust for their personal gain.”

“Atkinson wrongfully used campaign funds for his own personal gain,” said IRS Acting Special Agent in Charge Nevarez Jr. “Today’s sentence is a clear message to public officials that they will be held accountable if they violate the public’s trust.”

According to court documents, from at least January 2010 to about December 2017, Atkinson, 49, admitted that he devised a scheme to mislead donors contributing to his campaign by falsely representing to them that he would use donations for lawful campaign purposes. In reality, he misused contributions in his campaign account for personal expenses. Atkinson admitted that he used nearly $250,000 from his campaign bank account for personal expenses instead of legitimate campaign purposes. His personal spending of campaign funds included approximately $100,000 in payments to his personal credit cards, $75,000 towards opening and operating a Las Vegas nightclub, and $20,000 on leasing a Jaguar Sports Utility Vehicle, among many other personal expenditures.

The case was investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Daniel R. Schiess prosecuted the case.

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated July 18, 2019