I-Team: Questions about city attorney's involvement in lawsuit

BOULDER CITY, Nev. -- The highest legal official in Boulder City's municipal government is embroiled in what looks like a costly and somewhat sleazy criminal case.

It involves nude photos allegedly stolen from the cell phone of a beauty school student.

Criminal charges were filed against a Boulder City resident named Brian Olsen, the son of City Attorney David Olsen. The charges were later dropped but the legal fallout is far from over.

From a political standpoint, there is no good ending for any news story that includes 'city attorney' and ‘nude photos' in the same sentence, but so far, Boulder City's top legal authority has weathered the storm.

As the I-Team reported earlier, Boulder City's city attorney Dave Olsen has his hands full with lawsuits and legal bills generated by activists and vocal critics of the small group of people who seem to call the shots in that town.

The case we are about to describe should never have involved the city or its chief lawyer, but it did and it does. And someone is going to have to pay.

"You don't have to know somebody to get a job here. I can speak from personal experience," Boulder City attorney Dave Olsen said.

City Attorney Dave Olsen disputes the notion that a close-knit cabal runs Boulder City and protects its own.

But critics of city government think Olsen is a prime example of how things work in the seemingly sleepy town.

"That is Boulder City for you. I don't have any other way to put it. It is Boulder City and he is part of the protected group, so nothing is happening to him," former city council member Linda Strickland said.

Former city councilwoman and private attorney Linda Strickland is suing Olsen and the city on behalf of private citizens who were targeted with lawsuits by the city because they initiated petition drives to put controls on the council.

Olsen's legal advice in that matter will likely cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars before it's all over. But Olsen's other legal quagmire is even more curious. He signed on the principal expert witness in a lawsuit filed by his son Brian against his own employer, Boulder City, and a Boulder City police officer, along with the City of Henderson.

Former Boulder City Police Chief Tom Finn, who feels Olsen was part of the effort that saw Finn fired last year, has filed formal ethics complaints about Olsen helping his son sue his own employer.

"Absolutely it's a conflict of interest, a huge conflict of interest. And I also filed a complaint with the Nevada State Bar," Finn said.

The lawsuit filed by the Olsen's concerns a sordid series of events from March 2010. Brian Olsen was a cosmetology student at Henderson's Euphoria Institute. According to the affidavit of the arresting officer, Olsen told classmates that his grandmother had just died and asked a female student if he could use her cell phone. He stepped out of the class and returned the phone five minutes later. But records show, Olsen didn't make any calls.

During the time while Olsen had the phone, someone accessed the owner's photo collection including two nude photos of the woman. The nude photos were then forwarded to Brian Olsen's email account.

When the woman discovered what had happened, she filed a complaint with Henderson Police. When questioned, Brian Olsen said the woman had sent the nude photos to him herself.

The victim said she barely knew Olsen and agreed to take a polygraph. Henderson Police asked Boulder City Police to arrest Brian Olsen and hand him over.

Months later, Brian Olsen sued Henderson and Boulder City for false arrest, saying his rights had been violated because there was no probably cause for his arrest. His father, City Attorney Dave Olsen, was listed as the principal expert witness.

"Why is he still working for the city of Boulder City? Why did they not fire him? This is an outrage. He is helping his son sue his employer," Finn said.

In July, a federal judge said the Olsen lawsuit 'screams of frivolity' is 'clearly without merit' because there was overwhelming evidence that probable cause did exist. The judge ordered Olsen to pay more than $20,000 in legal fees.

If Boulder City leaders are upset with Olsen for helping with the lawsuit, they haven't shown it. Tom Finn says he is not surprised.

"He is one of the gang. He absolutely is. He is their fall guy, but he's fallen so many times, I don't see how he continues to get back up," Finn said.

Dave Olsen told the Boulder City newspaper that he was unaware he had been listed as an expert witness in the lawsuit filed by his adult son, who still lives with his parents.

Dave Olsen says he had nothing to do with the case other than as a father who is standing behind his son.

By the way, prosecutors declined to pursue the criminal charges against Brian Olsen because they said their proof was not conclusive.


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