Archive | October, 2013

WP Commissioners SLAPP Happy? Judge Tosses Out Most Of Defamation Suits

Posted on 31 October 2013 by Howard Copelan

Senior Judge Charles Thompson

Senior Judge Charles Thompson

The much anticipated ruling on the slander suit against the three recall organizers of White Pine county commissioners John Lampros and Mike Lemich had something for everyone, except John Lampros.

In his ruling filed Wednesday Senior District Judge Charles Thompson threw out Lampros case altogether but kept parts of Lemich’s claims legally alive at least for the time being.

click link for ruling: ruling

This summer White Pine county residents James Adams, Cheryl Noriega and Tim McGowan filed a notice of recall against both Lemich and Lampros. Two weeks later Lampros and Lemich filed defamation suits claiming that the allegations in the recall petitions were in fact lies and that slander had damaged them financially and politically.

vetdayIn response to the defamation suit the three asked the Judge to dismiss the suit on the grounds that they were so called SLAPP actions.

As defined by the Nevada Bar Association: A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP suit, is abusive litigation where a plaintiff brings a legally questionable claim in order to punish the defendant for exercising his or her First Amendment rights. Often, these suits are based upon defamation and other claims arising from expressive conduct. The purpose of a SLAPP suit is not necessarily to win, but to inflict the punishment of litigation itself.


In his ruling Thompson agreed that the entire defamation suit filed by Lampros did indeed fall into the category of a SLAPP suit.

More than just putting an end to his defamation suit, Lampros could find himself liable not only for the legal cost of the defendants but also for a bevy of fines.


Again according to the Nevada Bar Association: “An inherent characteristic of anti-SLAPP statutes is the award of costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees to a prevailing movant. This mechanism serves to encourage attorneys to file meritorious anti-SLAPP motions that might not otherwise be filed, and to incentivize the protection of the First Amendment. In addition to allowing for a movant’s recovery of costs and attorneys’ fees, (the recently passed new law) SB 286’s change to NRS 41.670 gives the court discretion to award a successful movant up to $10,000 in addition to his or her reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees. This discourages questionable attempts to silence successful movants’ First Amendment rights.

In other words depending on Thompson’s discretion Lampros could face a fine of $30,000 ( $10,000 for each defendant) plus their legal costs.

But while Lampros may find himself poorer Lemich case is different.

In a separate ruling Thompson agreed with the defendants that three of Lemich’s claims to slander did indeed meet the definition of a SLAPP suit.

However the judge also rule that four did not.

It is important to note the Thompson did not rule on the veracity of Lemich’s claims that he was slandered, only that four of the allegations were not on the face obviously false or that the defendants made them in bad faith. That determination the judge pointed out may be for a jury to decide.

Specifically Thompson separated his ruling to each allegation:

wrecsocialmediaadThe found that the charge that Lemich was slandered “for a financial disaster in the White Pine County budget and that his “mismanagement was responsible for White Pine County’s financial difficulties” Thompson dismissed as SLAPP’s. Thompson also found that Lemich claims to slander over intimidation and threatening citizens as well as being ‘investigated’ for assault were also SLAPP’s.

However the judge ruled that the claim Lemich was under investigation for theft did not meet the SLAPP definition and that it would not be dismissed at least in regards to the SLAPP motion.

He also ruled that the allegations of slander regarding the Dismantling of the County Fire and EMS services was a SLAPP suit and thus dismissed. However the judge refused to dismiss the slander charges on the allegations that Lemich caused the county commission to commit violations of state statutes.

In addition Thompson refused to dismiss slander charges regarding the Lemich had a conflict of interest regarding the county land exchange with Midway Gold and that he had a vendetta against the Ely Airport. On of the three defendants in the suit James Adams is the manager of the airport.

With the mixed ruling the defendants can either appeal or they can seek dismissal on other grounds besides claiming SLAPP.

artshowadIf not dismissed or settled out of court the case could even go to trial. However as a public figure Lemich is at a distinct disadvantage than if he were a private citizen. He would have to prove to a jury that not only were the allegations made against him were false but that the defendants knew they were false and published them with the purpose to harm him.

And with the SLAPP dismissal of three allegations the county commissioner depending on Thompson’s discretion could also be fined.

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Driver Impaled In Horrific I-80 Fun Bus Crash

Posted on 31 October 2013 by Howard Copelan

photo Salt Lake Tribune

photo Salt Lake Tribune

A Wendover Fun Bus driver was killed and a half a dozen passengers seriously injured in an horrific accident with an auger truck Monday afternoon 30 miles east of Wendover.

The Fun Bus driver Pita Asiata, 53, of Bountiful was impaled and died of his wounds when he rear ended the auger truck forcing the post holer through his body.

According to UHP Lt. Corey Nye, the Le Bus tour bus was headed east out of Wendover, carrying about 50 passengers. A couple of maintenance trucks working on building barriers were slowing down in the left-hand lane and turning into the median, Nye said.

vetday“The first vehicle began to slow. The bus was unable to stop, (and) they collided,” Nye said. “The force pushed the truck to where you see it at this point.”

An auger on the back of the maintenance truck crashed through the bus’ windshield and into the driver’s seat, impaling the driver, who died at the scene.

According to one of the men in that maintenance crew, their trucks had their hazard lights on and should have been visible, especially since it was still daylight at the time.

“The bus swerved out of the right lane to pass a car,” said Brady Warnock, who witnessed the accident to the Salt Lake Tribune. “I guess they didn’t notice the brake lights or anything, and smacked into the back of the drill truck. I heard the tires squealing, which was a little scary.”

centranewThree bus passengers were taken to the hospital by ambulance with non-life threatening injuries. Two other passengers, who were sitting behind the bus driver, had more serious injuries and were flown to the hospital in critical condition.

None of the people in the maintenance truck were hurt.

The uninjured bus passengers were put on another bus, and they headed back to Salt Lake City at about 9 p.m.

State troopers were still investigating the scene Monday night to determine who was at fault in this crash. The left lane of eastbound I-80 remained closed during that investigation.

wrecsocialmediaadLe Bus operates daily trips to Wendover charging a nominal fee to Salt Lake area gamblers.

Asiata was the father of Minnesota Vikings and former University of Utah running back Matt Asiata.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Pita Asiata, the father of Matt and Shawn Asiata. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Matt, Shawn and their entire family as they go through this extremely difficult time,” University of Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement released to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Matt and his brother Shawn played college football at Utah.


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SLC Man Play & Pays

Posted on 31 October 2013 by Howard Copelan

Basim Abu-Ismail

Basim Abu-Ismail

A trip to Wendover became expensive for a Salt Lake man who may have partied a little too hard according to police reports.

Basim Abu-Ismail, 26, of Salt Lake was pulled over at the Wendover Nugget and failed a field sobriety test. While stopped officers discovered Abu-Ismail alleged stash of illegal drugs. He was charged with one count of DUI and one count of possession. Transported to the Elko County Jail his bail was set at just under $2,000. According to reports Abu-Ismail spent the night in Elko and then made bail the next day.


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Newmont Begins Commercial Production of Copper in Nevada

Posted on 31 October 2013 by Howard Copelan

Pure copper cathodes produced at the Phoenix SX/EW plant south of Battle Mountain, NV

Pure copper cathodes produced at the Phoenix SX/EW plant south of Battle Mountain, NV

ELKO, Nev., October 30, 2013 – Newmont Mining Corporation (NMC) is pleased to announce that its Phoenix Mine (Lander County, Nev.) has begun commercial production of finished copper. Utilizing a run- of-mine (ROM) copper leach pad and a new solvent extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW) facility, Phoenix expects to produce approximately 20 million pounds of copper each year, nearly doubling its historical copper output since the site started up in 2006.

“The significant amounts of copper now being recovered at the Phoenix Copper Leach operation will help increase our profitable copper production, reduce the overall costs applicable to sales (CAS) for Phoenix and the region, and increase reserves at the site,” said Joel Lenz, General Manager of Operations for Phoenix Mine. “Beyond supporting Newmont’s strategy to build a stronger copper production profile, Copper Leach will also reduce our environmental footprint by lowering waste rock volumes,” Lenz added. “I am very proud of our team of employees and contractors who safely delivered this project on-time and on-budget.”

centranewThe additional production stream from Copper Leach will effectively transform and elevate Phoenix from a provider of raw copper concentrate (a byproduct of the site’s gold production) into a reliable source of ready-for-market, finished copper for manufacturers of copper products. “Newmont joins our team at Phoenix in thanking all those involved in safely developing and rolling out this new business enterprise, and we look forward to many more years of safe copper production,” said Tom Kerr, Senior Vice President, Newmont North America.


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The Last Halloweeen

Posted on 31 October 2013 by Howard Copelan

Howard Copelan, Publisher

Howard Copelan, Publisher

For the first time in over a quarter of a century we will not have a child go trick-or-treating.

Our youngest now a man of 13 said he was too old.

We are just old.

We will still be handing out candy of course but gone forever is the time our own progeny empty their haul on the flow and delighted in their riches of pure refined sugar.

C’est la vie as they say in France.

They say it a lot but they don’t do Halloween.

At least not the way we do.

Mostly they go to church.

Back in the old country or rather the old countries, Halloween is a religious holiday mostly for the very pious Christians and the only thing All Saints Day has in common with our non-religious door to door candy begging is the name and most of the time not even that.

It is like most things American, roots in the old world but completely unique.

When our middle son was 8, he announced that he would be going on trick-or-treat completely alone.

His mother was aghast.

Despite living in a small town where everyone knows everyone have a child wander around at night going from house to house all by himself is more frightening than the werewolf, Dracula and Frankenstein combined.

We did not object.

Rather when he bid us good bye with pillow case in hand we waited two minutes and then followed him.

We did the same the next year and the year after and were always very thankful that his appetite for candy was only a couple of blocks worth of houses.

He never caught us although we did get some strange looks for skulking in the bushes from other parents.

But the kid had fun being ‘on his own’ and we could justify a candy bar after our night of following.

Perhaps even more than the candy, that is what Halloween is all about, a first albeit tentative step at being on their own.

Perhaps that explains the costumes.

For one precious early evening in October they are not children but super heroes and princesses.

It doesn’t last long.

Each kid is good for perhaps ten Halloweens.

Then they get ‘too old’.

Still even if it is just a hand full of Halloweens perhaps because there are just a hand full of Halloweens each one is precious.

And then they are gone.

C’est la vie.



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Wendover Casinos Report Gaming Win Loss in September

Posted on 31 October 2013 by Howard Copelan



After a very good August the Wendover gaming industry returned to the doldrums in September with an almost eight percent decline in total gaming win, according to todays report from the state Gaming Control Board.

According to the report Wendover casinos raked in $13.9 million down 7.9 percent from September last year.

“Win” is a gross figure, with no operating costs or other expenses deducted. And it’s casino revenue only _ separate from hotel, restaurant or bar revenues generated by the resorts.

artshowadWhile win indicates a casino market’s profitability another statistic “play” is an indicator of how casino workers are fairing. With some casino workers dependent on tips for up to half of their total income, play, the amount of money wagered by gamblers is a good indicator of how much casino workers received in tips and how many gamblers are actually in the casino.

For most of the spring and summer Wendover casinos had been performing at below predictions and were posting declines from the same months a year before.

 However in September appeared to come out of its slump with an over ten percent increase in total gaming win and analyst were predicting a good year over all.

“Wendover had us scratching our heads,” said Cheif Gaming Analyst Michael Lawton last month. “We called around and found out that several of the casinos have cut back their big comps and pulled back from the flight program. As this year progresses we should see some favorable camparisons.”

October proved them wrong.

For the fiscal year to date Wendover returned to the red down 0.78 percent at $41.9 million. for the calendar year Wendover casinos are down over four percent.

Wendover total slot win was down 7.1 percent to $10.4 million. Slot play was down 6.4 percent to $194.7 million . Slot hold dropped to 5.34 percent from 5.4 percent recorded in September 2012.

Win from table games and sports betting was down by 110.6 percent to $3.5 million. Play was up 1.1 percent to $15.6 million. Hold dropped from 24.99 to 22.09 percent.

Casinos in the rest of Elko County saw total gaming win down 2.91 percent to $8.4 million. Slot win was down 2.3 percent to $7.4 million. Slot play was down 5.4 percent to  $102.4 million. Slot hold was up from 7.01 percent to 7.24 percent.

Win from table games and sports betting was down by 7.36 percent to $924,000. Play was down 5.0 percent to $3.9 million. Hold dropped from 25.25 to 23.65 percent.

Statewide, Nevada’s gaming win jumped up 7.41 percent in September as casinos raked in $958.8 million.

click link for full report: mrrsep13


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Posted on 28 October 2013 by Howard Copelan





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White Pine District Court Law & Motion 10-21-13

Posted on 28 October 2013 by Howard Copelan













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Posted on 25 October 2013 by Howard Copelan



Rookie Head Coach Bob Loncar got his first win and the West Wendover Wolverines took their first homecoming victory in eight years, Friday, in a 16-14 nail biter against Incline.

Suffering a slump through the season West Wendover pulled out all the stops last week for the biggest Homecoming Week ever in Wolverine history. Principal Craig Kylonen and the rest of WWHS staff not only enthused the school but also the entire community with special events both inside and outside the school.

Starting with a community barbecue hosted by WREC attended by over 1,000 people and capped off with a bon fire that could be seen for miles West Wendover was pumped for at least one shining moment on the grid iron that in the last ten years has not had many.

Yet even with standing room only in and around the stands it looked by the end of the first half that this homecoming would be like so many before a disappointment. Incline with a lead of 14-0 went off to the locker room confident that it would be the Lake Tahoe school’s first victory of the season rather than WWHS.

vetdayThey were wrong.

In the third quart the Wolverines erased the goose egg with a touch down from Kylar sharp and then added a two point conversion. Then in the fourth the Wolverines tied the game with a touchdown from Zade Elton and took the lead with a two point conversion from Jimmy Rodriguez.

And the crowd went wild.

“It was a perfect ending to a great week,” Kylonen said.

WWHS QB Kylar Sharp threw a season record 135 yards and rushed for 29. In addition to scoring a touch down Kayden sharp rushed for 14 yards and caught for 60. Martin Dorado rushed for 91 yards. Rodriguez rushed for 35, caught for another 29 and also lead the team with six tackles.



Judge Throws Book At UT Woman For Wendover New Years Shooting & Kidnap

Posted on 24 October 2013 by Howard Copelan

Angela Hill

Angela Hill

Elko District Judge Nancy Porter threw out a relatively lenient sentencing recommendation and sentenced Utah female desperado Angela Hill to 30 years in prison last week.

Hill avoided trial by pleading guilty  to robbery, burglary and kidnapping and agreeing to testify against her partner, Logan McFarland. The woman sobbed as Porter effectively more than doubled the sentence recommended by Parole and Probation.

Elko District Judge Nancy Porter

Elko District Judge Nancy Porter

The felonies stem from a bi-state violent and deadly crime spree the Utah Bonnie and Clyde committed over the 2012 New Years weekend.

McFarland and Hill are accused of committing or being involved a host of other crimes over the 2012 New Year Holiday including the double murder of an elderly Mt. Pleasant couple Woody and Ann Fullwood and the attempted killing of Wendover gym owner Rattana Keomanivong.

While it was Hill and not McFarland who was charged with the attempted murder of Keomanivong, in jail house interviews Hill placed almost all of the blame for the shooting and the other crimes squarely on the shoulders of her accomplice Logan McFarland and claimed she was another victim.

In Thursday’s sentencing Judge Porter made it abundantly clear that she was not buying any of it.

Porter said she didn’t know who shot Keomanivong, but said Hill’s involvement led to the attempted murder. Porter also guessed that had the victim not decided to fight her assailant, she likely would have been killed.

Although Porter said she believed Hill was remorseful and had committed to recovery, the judge considered the Division of Parole and Probation’s recommendation of five to 15 years too light. Hill was sentenced to 30 years in prison with parole eligibility after 11.

This ‘good girl in bad company’ defense was aided during the preliminary hearing by the testimony of Keomanivong who failed to remember certain parts of her statement to police at the time of the shooting.

Shot in the head the former Wendover gym owner still suffers from memory loss and other brain damage from her almost fatal wound. Since the shooting she has had to relocate to Las Vegas where she is receiving physical and mental therapy.

Click for Newmont Notes

Click for Newmont Notes

In addition to the weak testimony from the victim, Hill’s public defender Fred Lee was also able to cast considerable doubt that the bullet that entered Keomanivong brain was actually fired from Hill’s gun.

While far from conclusively ruling Hill out as the shooter the ballistic tests coupled with the weak testimony from Keomanivong may have forced the Elko DA’s office to reconsider the charge against the Utah woman.

Hill will remain in the Elko county Jail until the trial of McFarland where she will testify against her partner in crime.

Indeed according to Hill’s mother, she has already provided San Pete prosecutors a wealth of information against McFarland in the double murder of the Fullwoods.

In a long, often hostile interview with the High Desert Advocate earlier this year, Abigail Atwood said that her daughter would very soon be transferred to Utah where she would testify against Robert McFarland.

Hills’ efforts to ‘cop a plea’ at the expense of McFarland are not new and in fact date to the minute the couple were arrested after they straggled out of the Pequop Mountains after hiding in the Nevada outback for three days.

Rattana Keomanivong

Rattana Keomanivong

According to law enforcement officers present at the time of their arrest, as soon as she was separated from her partner, she accused him of putting her under an almost total mind control. A defense her mother still believes.

“The only reason she went with him to Nevada was because he showed her pictures of our house and threatened her family.” Atwood said. “She never was in any trouble before this and the San Pete police now say she had nothing to do with the murder of the Fullwoods.”

That was not completely true according to San Pete Messenger newspaper publisher Suzanne Dean.

“The police did issue a clarification that the no longer believed that she waited in the car outside the Fullwood home while Robert McFarland killed them,” The publisher said. “Instead she left him off returned to where they were all staying and later picked him up several hours after the crime. She is still a definite person of interest in the crime.”

During the sentencing Atwood implied that her daughter’s innocence was not believed either by the family’s neighbor’s.

Atwood, who lives in a small Utah town, said in the wake of the crimes, her community shunned her. Atwood told the court that she lost her job and her health care.

McFarland did not blame the crime spree on Hill however, but rather the Illuminati.

The odds that a member of that mythical world controlling organization testifying for McFarland are however much less that Hill testifying against him either in Nevada or Utah.

Hill’s testimony against McFarland as well as the ballistic evidence could be enough for a jury to convict McFarland of attempted murder and for the Elko County District Attorney’s office might tie up a very loose end.

WEN10241913ADanceAs the charges stand now, while Rattana Keomanivong was shot no one is charged with the shooting.

Law enforcement have long hailed Keomanivong as a hero in the case.  The owner of the local gym Animal House, Keomanivong won the Wendover Strongest woman contest the summer before.

As soon as the odds evened with only Hill and Keomanivong in the car,   Keomanivong attacked her car jacker by “biting her ear, neck and forcing her from the vehicle,”. Hill fired a shot at the woman as she drove away, according to the police report.

Keomanivong was struck in the back of the head, but she was able to drive herself to the police station and give police a description of the two before she was airlifted to Salt Lake for emergency surgery.

ConnectMore-halfpage“They had already established a pattern of attacking helpless people, robbing them, stealing their vehicles and killing them before anyone knew what was happening” said one detective. “If not for . Keomanivong they could have been well on their way to Reno or San Francisco with a trail of dead bodies behind them.”

Despite the accolades, Keomanivong must now live with injuries for the rest of her life. Early hope that she would completely recover have faded. A recent brain scan suggests that some of the damage may be permanent or take a very long time to heal.

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