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AG Del Papa Pursuit of Bill Bible Detailed

30 October 2000

by Jeff German

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Oct. 30, 2000 -- Mike Anzalone's lawsuit against Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa continues to burn up the courts.

Anzalone, you'll recall, is the former Del Papa investigator who has alleged he was forced to resign in 1996 because he wouldn't participate in an intelligence investigation of gaming regulators, including former Control Board Chairman Bill Bible.

For nearly three years Anzalone's suit has been stonewalled by Del Papa, who has fought the release of documents that many believe can prove the former investigator's case.

But last week Anzalone's Phoenix lawyer, Christine Manno, made it clear in court papers that she now has enough documents to show that Bible indeed was investigated by Del Papa.

Most of those documents were made public in April under a court order from District Judge James Mahan.

Del Papa had a "personal vendetta" against Bible because he had the gall to question the quality of legal services her office was providing the Control Board, Manno wrote in her papers.

Bible, the son of the late U.S. Sen. Alan Bible, D-Nev., is not your average citizen alleged to have been a victim of government over-reaching.

Before his retirement in September 1998, he had been at the helm of the Control Board for 10 years, the longest tenure of anyone. And before that, he was the state's budget director and a political confidant of Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev.

By the time Bible left government service, he was regarded as one of the sharpest public servants of all time in the state.

Today he's president of the Nevada Resort Association, the political arm of the casino industry.

Bible privately has been infuriated by Del Papa's actions and has encouraged Anzalone to move forward with his case. But publicly, Bible has been guarded with his comments. And though he has hinted he might file suit against Del Papa, he has been slow to take action.

In her papers, Manno charged that Del Papa recruited her loyal friend, Deputy Attorney General David Thompson, to conduct the top-secret intelligence probe, which stemmed from the criminal investigation into the slot cheating activities of Ron Harris, a former Control Board computer expert.

Anzalone, who was credited with making the case against Harris, soured on Thompson after the prosecutor asked him in a Jan. 3, 1996, phone call to obtain Bible's bank and telephone records without a grand jury subpoena, Manno said.

"Plaintiff," Manno added, "refused to obtain these records without the issuance of a subpoena and stated to defendant Thompson that there was no probable cause to obtain a subpoena from the grand jury because plaintiff's investigation did not reveal that Bill Bible was in any way connected with ... the criminal acts of Ron Harris."

One month later, Anzalone was forced to resign. In a recent sworn affidavit, Thompson denied asking Anzalone to get Bible's bank and telephone records.

But documents released by the attorney general last April showed that Thompson had authorized searches of property records on Bible as late as January 1998, long after the Harris case was closed. He also sought records on Anzalone, whom he accused of obstructing his probe.

Thompson's affidavit was filed earlier this month with a motion by Del Papa's office to dismiss Anzalone's suit. Several other Del Papa deputies and investigators also submitted affidavits denying any wrongdoing.

Mahan has scheduled a Nov. 6 hearing on the motion.

Manno, meanwhile, is pressing ahead.

"Defendants' motion," she wrote, "nearly three years after the lawsuit was filed, is consistent with their long established practice to wrongfully stonewall and sandbag plaintiff in his effort to seek justice."

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