Ex-lawmaker charged with misusing funds, false records

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Nevada Attorney General’s Office has charged a former lawmaker of misusing campaign funds and filing false voter registration and campaign finance records.

Prosecutors filed 14 charges this week against Alex Assefa, a Democrat who represented Las Vegas in the state Assembly before resigning in January in the wake of reports that he was under investigation related to his finances and whether he lived in the legislative district he represented.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in a Las Vegas court, prosecutors alleged Assefa lied about his residence on voter registration forms, filed false campaign finance reports and misappropriated at least $11,150 in campaign funds. The complaint does not offer details about the specifics of the allegations.

Ten of the charges filed Wednesday were felony counts of perjury, theft or offering false filings or records. Assefa was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of filing false statements of residency.

Assefa’s attorney George Kelesis declined to comment Friday.

Court records show a summons had been issued Thursday for Assefa to make an initial court appearance in May, but no arrest warrant was issued.

Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office declined to comment.

Assefa, who was first elected to represent the Legislature in 2018 representing the Spring Valley area, did not mention the campaign finance investigation in a January letter announcing his resignation.

Nevada law requires legislators live in the districts they represent. In his resignation letter, Assefa said that he initially misunderstood the law but later determined his residency violated.

“With great regret, and because I believe that lawmakers are bound to uphold the law and act with honesty and integrity, I must admit my mistake and resign my office,” he wrote.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in October that police last year raided a North Las Vegas home owned by Assefa’s wife and a Spring Valley condominium he listed as his residence in campaign filings.

In search warrants issued last year, detectives were focused on records related to KIB Transport LLC, a freight and trucking company Assefa listed as an income source on a financial disclosure form, the Review-Journal reported. State records show Assefa is listed as a manger of the company.

Campaign finance reports show he reported receiving $19,380 in in-kind contributions from KIB Transport he listed as office space and labor. He also reported spending about $2,099 in campaign funds with KIB Transport for advertising costs.

Court records do not offer details about whether the charges Assefa faces are related to the reports involving KIB Transport.

Assefa is the fourth Democratic state lawmaker to resign since 2017. Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson resigned in 2019 and pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges for using campaign contributions to open a Las Vegas nightclub and pay off credit card debt.