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Joan Whitely

Harrah's investigation sent to D.A.

21 January 2008

NEVADA -- The Clark County Fire Department sent its investigation of improper hotel remodeling by Harrah's Entertainment to the criminal division of the district attorney's office on Friday.

The criminal division, in turn, will determine whether charges will be filed, Stacey Welling, a county spokeswoman, said early Friday evening, after the district attorney's office had closed for a three-day holiday weekend.

"These are not citations," said Welling, drawing a contrast to the 17 misdemeanor citations county building officials issued Dec. 14 against two men for their roles in problematic remodeling projects at the Rio Hotel and Harrah's Las Vegas, both owned by Harrah's Entertainment.

"It's up to the D.A. to make a determination on what charges and how many counts," Welling said in response to a query about what was delaying the fire department. In mid-December the county issued a statement that charges by building and fire authorities were "imminent."

The fire department's report included analysis of inspection records as well as witness statements, according to Welling.

She would not forecast what charges could be drawn up, but said "it's possible the (building division's) citations and all the fire and building violations related to the work will be combined into one complaint."

The remodeling, mostly in guest rooms, was done without pulling mandatory permits or submitting to required safety inspections. Since the county in late September reopened a closed complaint alleging undocumented renovation at the Rio, more than 1,000 Rio rooms have been investigated, with a small percentage closed for an extended period of time.

At Harrah's Las Vegas on the Strip, Harrah's Entertainment closed about 600 guest rooms to facilitate exploratory and repair work. Most of the Strip hotel's rooms have since reopened.

Harrah's investigation sent to D.A. is republished from