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The Latest: Atkinson to plead guilty to wire fraud charge

March 6, 2019
FILE - In this May 22, 2013, file photo, Nevada Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, listens to debate on the Senate floor at the Legislative Building in Carson City, Nev. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak says Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson is resigning from the state Senate following allegations he misappropriated campaign funds for his personal use. Sisolak said in a statement Tuesday, March 5, 2019, that he's "extremely disappointed" in the news and said it goes "goes against the integrity every elected officer in the state of Nevada should uphold." (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The Latest on the resignation of Nevada state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, the Democratic majority leader (all times local):

5:05 p.m.

A lawyer for former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson says his client will be pleading guilty to a federal wire fraud charge for misusing campaign funds for a personal use.

Attorney Richard Wright said in an emailed statement Tuesday that Atkinson will be pleading to the charge in Las Vegas. He did not offer further details about when the charges would be filed, when Atkinson would appear in court or further details on the charges.

Atkinson announced his resignation Tuesday on the Senate floor and admitted to misusing the campaign funds.

Wright said was tied up Tuesday and unable to call and return messages seeking more information.

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2:50 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro has been selected as Senate Majority leader following the resignation of Sen. Kelvin Atkinson.

The Nevada Senate Democrats released a statement Tuesday saying they unanimously elected Cannizzaro to serve in the leadership role. Atkinson announced his resignation on the Senate floor Tuesday. He did not specify the charges against him.

Cannizzaro said in a statement that she was “deeply troubled” to learn about the allegations against Atkinson. She says the caucus will “turn the page and move forward.”

Cannizzaro is a chief deputy district attorney in Clark County. The caucus statement says she will be the first female to serve as Senate Majority Leader.

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1:30 p.m.

It will be up to the all-Democrat Clark County Commission to appoint a replacement for Democratic state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, who resigned from the Legislature and said he’ll plead guilty to federal campaign finance charges.

County spokesman Erik Pappa said Tuesday it wasn’t immediately clear when the seven-member commission will make that decision.

State law requires Atkinson’s replacement to be a Democrat and live in state Senate District 4, including the predominantly minority West Las Vegas neighborhood.

Assembly members William McCurdy and Dina Neal also represent the area.

Atkinson announced his resignation on the Senate floor but didn’t offer details about the charges against him.

His resignation leaves Democrats with a 12-8 advantage in the state Senate.

The Legislature is about a month into its four-month session.

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12:10 p.m.

Top Republican leaders in the Legislature seized on Democratic Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson’s announcement that he’ll resign and plead guilty to federal criminal charges to call for a full corruption probe.

Atkinson said Tuesday he’s stepping down immediately and will plead guilty to misusing campaign funds.

Court documents were not immediately available and it wasn’t clear when his plea will take place.

Atkinson’s attorney, Richard Wright, did not immediately respond to messages.

Atkinson apologized in an emotional speech on the Senate floor but didn’t offer details about the charges.

Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer accused Atkinson of violating the integrity of elections and breaking the trust of voters and colleagues.

Settlemeyer calls for fact-finding to determine “how far this corruption goes.”

Assembly Minority Leader Jim Wheeler called Atkinson’s actions “more than troubling.”

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11:50 a.m.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson says he’s resigning immediately after admitting to misusing campaign funds for personal use.

Atkinson apologized in an emotional speech on the floor of the state Senate on Tuesday and said he was embarrassed, ashamed and would be pleading guilty to charges he faces.

The Democrat did not offer details about the charges he faced because it was ongoing matter in court.

It wasn’t immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

Atkinson says he let his supporters down and is praying for their forgiveness.

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11:25 a.m.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak says Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson is resigning from the state Senate following allegations he misappropriated campaign funds for his personal use.

Sisolak said in a statement Tuesday that he’s “extremely disappointed” in the news and said it goes “goes against the integrity every elected officer in the state of Nevada should uphold.”

Atkinson did not respond to a message left on his cellphone seeking comment.

He appeared on the state Senate floor Tuesday but did not immediately address the allegations.

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11:15 a.m.

Democrats controlling the Nevada state Senate say the chamber’s leader Kelvin Atkinson is resigning.

The Nevada Senate Democrats’ Executive Director Cheryl Bruce said in a statement Tuesday that the North Las Vegas senator will resign because of charges he faces that “are serious and allege conduct that we strongly condemn.”

The statement did not offer further details and Bruce did not respond to an emailed message seeking further details.

Atkinson did not respond to a message left on his cellphone seeking comment.

Bruce says Assistant Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro will become the acting Senate leader.

Atkinson was first elected to the Assembly in 2002 and to the state Senate in 2012.

He was the first black, openly gay member of the Nevada Legislature in 2013 when he came out during a debate in the Senate on same-sex marriage.

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