The former Senate Majority Leader, Kelvin Atkinson, has been convicted of misusing campaign funds in order to pay for his bills and open a downtown Las Vegas nightclub where he hosted political fundraisers. Atkinson has been charged with embezzling around $195,000 which he received in contributions for campaigning purposes throughout his 10 years of being in the State Assembly and later as Senate.
He was sentenced to three years of probation and was fined $249,000. Atkinson the former Democratic member of the Nevada Senate represented District 4, previously serving the Nevada Assembly, representing Clark County District 17 from 2002 to 2012.
Remarking on the conviction and sentence, Ex-Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson said “I have spent a long time building my life up to be the person I am today. The fall has been quite daunting,” Atkinson accepted the court’s sentence along with his attorney, Richard Wright, and 25 of his supporters. The judge shortened Atkinson’s sentence from 30 months that the prosecutors sought, minimising it to 27 months, allowing the Ex-Senate to remain free pending his surrender to federal prison this coming October.
Ex-Nevada Senate Leader convicted
Atkinson who is now 50 years old served 10 years in the Assembly before being elected to the Senate in 2012. He became the first black, openly gay member of the Legislature, defending same-sex marriage issues and more. Over and above, Atkinson and his husband, Sherwood Howard, where the first same-sex couple to commence their marriage in Las Vegas back in late 2014.
The former Senate resigned from his position in March, pleading guilty to federal wire fraud. According to investigations led by U.S Attorney Nicolas Trutanich, they found a discrepancy of more than $450,000 from a total sum of $1.1 million which Atkinson received in campaign contribution from 2010 to 2017. The FBI concluded that due to poor record-keeping it was difficult to determine how this money was spent.
Court documents reveal that $75,000 have been used to open and operate a downtown nightclub called The Urban Lounge. Furthermore, $20,000 were used to lease a Jaguar SUV; and $8,600 spent to repay a personal loan. The court documents also pointed out that $100,000 of the sum have been used to pay off personal credit card charges.
Violating the public’s trust
Atkinson’s attorney argued that his defence didn’t deserve prison time as he; pleaded guilty for his crimes, accepted full responsibility by agreeing to pay the fine, and finally losing the lease to the nightclub.
The Ex-Nevada Senate Leader currently has his campaign accounts frozen pending a decision as to whether the money could be used to pay his fine.
U.S Attorney Nicholas Trutanich stated that
“In the Silver State, virtually all public officials serve with integrity, honesty, and humility. But when a public servant violates the public’s trust, federal prosecutors in my office stand ready to pursue justice.”