I-Team: Witness admits former constable paid him for debt by increasing salary

LAS VEGAS - Former Las Vegas Constable John Bonaventura is facing felony charges, and now one of his former top guys has decided to speak to the I-Team.

There were so many problems at the Las Vegas Constable's Office, so Clark County Commissioners voted to abolish it in 2013.

Many say the leadership of Bonaventura was the big problem.

"I thought I could have done a much better job," said Lou Toomin, who worked in constable's office.

Toomin was one of Bonaventura's top guys.

"I'll answer any questions you ask me," Toomin said.

Toomin also testified for a grand jury which led to an indictment against Bonaventura.  Toomin says he doesn't talk to Bonaventura anymore.

The former constable faces felony charges including unlawful interception of wire communications, theft, and misconduct of a public officer. Bonaventura pleaded not guilty to the charges.

"I think that he will end up doing some time for sure," Toomin said.

Bonaventura is accused of illegally recording phone conversations with a judge, attorneys, reporters and even Toomin who insists he didn't know.

However, Toomin admits he did know Bonaventura was paying him back the money he was owed him by increasing his salary.

Toomin says he and Bonaventura became somewhat of partners to flip a house.   Toomin bought the house, and Bonaventura fixed it up, but instead of selling it, Bonaventura decided to live in the home, so he purchased it from Toomin.

Investigators say it was taxpayers who helped foot the bill.

According to courtroom testimony, Toomin's salary jumped by about $2,000 a paycheck to a six-figure salary making about $20,000 more than his boss.

Vanessa Murphy, Reporter: "And you knew he was doing that?"
Lou Toomin:  "Well, yes, he told me that's how he was going do it."
Murphy: "Did you think that was wrong?
Toomin: "I didn't really care one way or the other. I don't know whether it was wrong or not. I mean I didn't know he was taking it out of the constable office's income. I thought he was paying me personally." 
Murphy: "But it was your salary."
Toomin: "He increased my salary; that's right."
Murphy: "But the salary would come from money from the constable's office."
Toomin: "That's correct. 
Murphy: "So..."
Toomin: "Yes, obviously it was wrong, but he didn't tell me that at the time. I didn't find that out til later." 
Murphy: "But you knew your salary was increased to pay off the debt.
Toomin: "Yes."
Murphy: "So that's not his money though paying your salary."
Toomin: "I didn't know that he was. I thought he was paying me with his own money. I didn't know it was coming out of the constable office funds."
Murphy: "So you think he would put his own money into the constable's office to pay your salary?"
Toomin: "To increase my salary? Yes. 

The I-Team asked the Clark County District Attorney whether Toomin was facing charges, and he responded by saying "not at this time."

Murphy: "Did the DA's office ever say in exchange for your testimony we won't charge you?"
Toomin: "No, they never said that to me, and I never asked them. I mean, I never thought I had done anything wrong."

In regards to the criminal case, Bonaventura claims he hasn't done anything wrong.

Murphy: "We're talking about taxpayer dollars. What would you say to taxpayers?"
Bonaventura: "They're all false allegations."

Murphy: "What do you think should happen to him?"
Toomin: "Well, he should go to jail. He did something dishonest, and you know he should pay for it."

Bonaventura's next court date is scheduled for July.

 


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