(Elizabeth Crum/Nevada News Bureau) – You may recall that on Friday afternoon, Tea Party of Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Scott Ashjian put out a four page press release saying he had filed a Bar complaint against Deputy DA Bernie Zadrowski for wrongly pursuing bad check charges against him. Ashjian claimed the $5,000 “bounced check” reported by the media and at issue with the Bad Check Unit was in fact a stopped payment to a contractor he had discovered was not legal to do business in the state.
I talked about this on Channel 13 Friday evening, and we’ll have that video up the site here shortly, but in the meantime Deputy DA Bernie Zadrowski, who heads up the Bad Check Unit, last night emailed me comment re: the Ashjian matter:
With regard to Ashjian’s claim that he put a stop payment on the check, and that the matter therefore should not have been prosecuted, this is both factually incorrect and an incorrect assessment of the law.
The facts are very simple. The check in question bounced, and then AFTER it had already been returned unpaid to the victim on December 10, 2009, the defendant put a stop payment on the check, on December 11, 2009. These are verifiable facts that were known by the bad check unit when we pursued the case.
Yes, Ashjian provided a copy of the “stop payment” paperwork to our office, but what he failed to advise the media via his press release was that the check had already “bounced” when he processed the “stop payment.”
As you may or may not know, victims of bad checks bring bad checks directly to the bad check unit for prosecution. They initiate the prosecution by providing the necessary documents that prove the case, and if there is probable cause found in those documents that a crime was committed, we file the case.
In addition, check fraud allegations had been previously brought to our office by Ashjian’s previous bank in a check kiting scheme. Ashjian also avoided prosecution at that time by paying the restitution before charges were brought.
To suggest that anyone with a political axe to grind, namely me, has targeted Ashjian for his politics is simply not true. The only person who targeted him was the victim in the case. It was the victim’s efforts that caused this prosecution.
As for the “complaints” Ashjian has claimed he will file, anyone can file complaints, meritorious or not. I’m not concerned one iota about a claim of improper prosecution. I have both the law and the facts on my side. I also have the fact that Assjian ponied up the $5,575.00 in restitution, rather than allow a public trial on the facts as they occurred. This, after he had also done so previously in another case.
Personally, I welcome the scrutiny, as it will show that my office acted properly every step of the way.
As for the issue of that arrest warrant that was reported to have been issued for Ashjian by a number of Nevada media outlets last week, Ashjian’s Friday press release said a warrant was never issued and that the media accounts saying otherwise were “inaccurate” and “defamatory.”
A warrant for Ashjian was requested by our office. We requested a warrant for his arrest on 1 count of D&P Checks and 1 count of Theft. The judge was scheduled to sign the arrest warrant on or about Wednesday the 31st or Thursday April 1st.
However, Ashjian’s lawyer contacted me on Wednesday and said Ashjian wished simply to pay the full amount of restitution. I agreed to accept it. With bad checks, it is the common practice of the Bad Check Unit to agree to dismiss criminal charges if the defendant is willing to pay all of the fees, costs, and restitution.
We did not treat Ashjian any differently than we treat any other bad check case.
There was no special treatment and no extra attention given to this matter because Ashjian was a politician.
When the cashier’s check for restitution was sent to our office on Wednesday or Thursday (I don’t remember exactly) I subsequently wrote a motion to recall the arrest warrant and dismiss the case, and then filed the motion. The judge agreed to forego signing the arrest warrant and granted the State’s motion to dismiss the case.
While it was technically inaccurate to say that an arrest warrant was issued for Ashjian, it is accurate to say the affidavit in support of the warrant and warrant request was sent to the court. This occurred once the State had filed the criminal complaint in justice court. But for the State agreeing to put the case on calendar to recall and dismiss, the signing and issuing of the warrant would have happened on Thursday April 1st.
So no warrant was issued, as Ashjian said, but one was in process as part of the criminal proceeding against him. Does the inaccurate reporting rise to the level of “defamation” as Ashjian claimed in his press release?
Not an attorney, so don’t know. We’ll see if Ashjian actually moves forward with a complaint.