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Brendan Riley

Top Nevada casino regulator likely to get rare third term

11 October 2006

CARSON CITY, Nevada -- Gov. Kenny Guinn said Tuesday one of his key final appointments before leaving office this year will be a third four-year term for Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander.

But Guinn said he has not decided on a replacement for Bobby Siller, who is stepping down from the powerful regulatory board after two terms.

While third terms for appointees are rare in the Guinn administration, the Republican governor said Neilander has done an "outstanding" job on the Control Board and has experience that's needed as the panel deals with major issues such as the expansion by Nevada licensees into gambling in Macau and other foreign jurisdictions.

Among possible replacements for Siller are Guinn's chief of staff, Keith Munro, and Ellen Knowlton, who retired as head of the FBI in Nevada last February after 24 years with the bureau. Knowlton succeeded Siller when he retired from the FBI, and he has backed her as his replacement on the board.

Siller took the state post after 25 years with the FBI, including more than three years as special agent in charge of the Las Vegas FBI office.

Another prospect for Siller's job is Guinn's public safety director, George Togliatti, also a former FBI agent, although Guinn said Tuesday he had not talked to Togliatti about the appointment.

Togliatti spent more than 23 years with the FBI, managing organized crime and drug units in Las Vegas and serving as the white-collar crime supervisor. After that and prior to his state service, he was a regional vice president with Harrah's Entertainment.

Munro has remained in contention for the appointment even though he lacks direct law enforcement experience. State law says one of the three board appointees must have a strong accounting background while another "must be selected with special reference to his training and experience in the fields of investigation, law enforcement, law or gaming."

The appointments to the board, the investigative and enforcement arm of the state Gaming Commission, are among the most important that Guinn will make before his successor takes the oath of office in January. That'll be either Democrat Dina Titus or Republican Jim Gibbons.

Neilander has been a board member since 1998, and had served as the board's chief of corporate securities from 1995 until his 1998 appointment to a one-year term by then-Gov. Bob Miller. Guinn named him to his first four-year term in January 1999.

Before joining the board, Neilander, an attorney, was an analyst for the Legislative Counsel Bureau and handled gambling, criminal and other legal matters for the Legislature's judiciary committees.

Neilander graduated from the University of Northern Colorado and earned a law degree from the University of Denver's College of Law.