Fast Times at the Las Vegas Township Constable Office

LAS VEGAS, Nevada—Looking back over the coverage by the Las Vegas Review-Journal of the Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura, one would be forgiven for thinking that it's not real news but a fictitious plot for a motion picture comedy about a hapless buffoon who happens to wear a badge and oversee an office of equally dysfunctional clowns. After all, as columnist John L. Smith noted in June in a piece exploring the serious underpinnings of a secretly recorded phone call between the constable and Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, "Bonaventura was such an embarrassment that the county euthanized the constable’s office last year like a sway-backed Shetland pony."

The stories surrounding Bonaventure's litany of fuck-ups is well known to Vegas insiders. As AVN legal columnist and Vegas resident Clyde DeWitt explained, "There are all kinds of investigations about him—he did a reality show that made the deputies look like idiots; he required his deputies to give him a kickback every time they got a paycheck; the County wouldn't pay a lawyer to defend him for something so he hired a deputy who, not by coincidence, was an attorney who was to defend him; and on and on and on. It got so bad that the County Commission abolished his office effective at the end of his term in January."

But as comical as it all sounds, and despite the fact that the city fathers have clearly heard and seen enough from that particular office—which is officially tasked with serving as the civil enforcement agency for the Las Vegas Township Justice Court, basically as process servers with civil, but no criminal, authority—yesterday's article by Ben Botkin of the Las Vegas Review-Journal strongly indicates that Bonaventure's second-in-command, Deputy Chief Dean Lauer, may have far exceeded his authority by using "office resources to look for information about adult film actresses."

Adding fuel to the fire, the article further claims that during another secretly recorded meeting in April 2013, "Bonaventura ordered the shredding of documents from an internal investigation" into Lauer's actions, an order that the constable denied giving in an email to the paper printed on Monday.

The recording belies that claim, however. According to Botkin, "Bonaventura ordered the documents destroyed at a meeting in April 2013, about a month after Clark County commissioners voted to abolish the troubled office at the end of Bonaventura’s term.

"Deputies," he continued, "had raised an alarm after learning that someone used Lauer’s log-on name and password to access the office’s $800-a-month subscription-based database to look up porn actresses, according to documents obtained by the newspaper and inter­views with employees of the office."

Botkin added, "The database service, Accurint, is typically used by law enforcement for investigative purposes such as finding addresses, phone numbers and contact information for people, such as the names of family members. It can also provide other personal data, such as dates of birth, Social Security numbers and other names used by a person."

Not only was the paper given the recording by an unnamed source within the department— "Bonaventura’s employees have told the newspaper they routinely make surreptitious recordings to document interactions with colleagues and superiors in the constable’s office, and someone in the meeting did just that."—but it was also provided with Constable Office records, including ones indicating that "someone using Lauer’s password searched for 16 current and former actresses, including Traci Lords, Porche Lynne [sic], Kayla Kleevage, Lisa Sparxxx and Gianna Michaels. Employees of the office said it was unclear whether the system was accessed from a Constable’s Office computer or a personal computer elsewhere. No legitimate law enforcement purpose for the searches was ever identified, they told the Review-Journal."

In addition to his current denial to the paper, Bonaventura was also reportedly resistant to an official investigation into the searches by Capt. Hadi Sadjadi, the office’s internal affairs investigator, who, according to Botkin, "presented the information at the meeting with Bonaventura, Lauer and other senior officers. On a recording of the meeting obtained by the Review-Journal, Bonaventura wasn’t interested in knowing anything at all about the unauthorized searches done between March and December 2012.

“'I need you to pull out all that stuff you got on Dean for running the Accurint stuff because, you know, I believe in my heart that he didn’t do it because he’s addicted to porno or something like that,' Bonaventura is heard saying. 'I know somebody mentioned it was 3 in the morning or whatever. ... I don’t know. I don’t even want to know. I don’t want to f—-ing know. Whatever you got, I want you to bring it in here and put it in the pile.'"

As far as the obvious discrepancy between his recorded comments and his public denials goes, Bonaventura claims a conspiracy to get him, telling the paper that "the recording was probably doctored by a disgruntled former employee, though he declined an offer to have it played for him."

Lauer made similar claims, explaining "in a statement that he had in the past filed a report about his passwords being accessed and changed. He also called the recording of the meeting 'illegal and possibly doctored.'"

But Botkin's sources within the office—both "current and former employees familiar with the matter"—claim that Bonaventura's orders were in fact followed "and his men shredded the records."

Botkin adds, "In the year since the shredding, Lauer has remained on the job. He is one of about two dozen sworn law enforcement officers in the Constable’s Office, which handles evictions and serves court papers."

As mentioned above, the secretly recorded conversation about unauthorized searches of adult performers by Lauer is but one recording made by office insiders. Another recording obtained by the Review-Journal of "a telephone conversation between Bonaventura and Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins" in which the "pair talked about the County Commission’s decision to abolish the constable’s office and Bonaventura’s run for the seat of Commissioner Mary Beth Scow in the June primaries," also raises larger questions about the possible illegal activities of members of the Las Vegas Township Constable Office, and led to a June 17 raid on the office by the Metropolitan Police Department looking into a "wiretapping probe into the recording."

As Botkin notes, however, "Bonaventura has not been arrested or charged with any crimes in connection with the ongoing investigation."

While that investigation continues, the more recent allegations regarding the destruction by staff at the behest of Bonaventura of documentation into the unauthorized searches by Lauer could spawn yet another investigation, as well of course as the potential for criminal charges as well as civil litigation by victimized adult performers.


We also heard from attorney Mark Randazza, another Vegas inhabitant, who said of the constable situation, "This demonstrates the danger in unfettered information gathering by the government. Sure, the information is supposed to be there for lawful uses, and we're supposed to trust 'the government' when it tells us that it will just be used to hunt down criminals.  We might even be able to trust the government.  But, can we trust individual mentally-defective low-level flunkies, who have the same access?  

"No, we can't. So much for the 'if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about' argument, huh?"