A local elected official will face a judge Tuesday on murder charges after the stabbing death of a Las Vegas investigative reporter who wrote articles critical of him and his management practices.
Clark County public administrator Robert Richard Thales has been arrested since Sept. 7 following the Sept. 2 killing of veteran Las Vegas Review-Journal staff writer Jeff German. Sentenced to prison without bail.
A criminal complaint alleges Thales “ambushed” the 69-year-old German, whom prosecutors said was stabbed seven times. German lived alone and his body was found the next day. The Clark County coroner ruled his death a homicide.
Thales, 45, was arrested on the morning of Sept. 2 after seeking help over Labor Day weekend to identify a man wearing an orange work shirt and a wide-brimmed straw hat carrying a satchel to his home in Germany. Police also released images of a unique SUV seen near a German home, driven by a man in an orange shirt.
On Sept. 6, a review magazine photographer captured Thales cleaning his driveway for a similar vehicle.
Police said Thales turned off his phone and waited for the attack in a car outside the German home. It was described as a planned response to an article written in Germany about dealing with “turmoil and internal divisions” in county offices that deal with assets of people without wills or family connections.
Thales lost his re-election primary in June after a May article touted administrative bullying, favoritism and his relationship with a subordinate staff member. County legislators appointed a counselor to resolve complaints against leadership in their office.
German was widely respected for his tenacity, and his colleagues said he was studying follow-up reports on Telles and the Office of Public Administration at the time of his death.
“The article that was published … ruined (Tylers’) political career, possibly his marriage, and it was a swipe at his career,” Clark County Chief Deputy Attorney Richard Scot said in September told the judge on the 8th.
That judge, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Elana Lee Graham, called the police report detailing the attack “chilling” and said it described the Germans as “fighting for their lives.” She spoke of the apparent defensive wound on German’s arm and said DNA believed to be from Telles had been found under German’s fingernails.
Police said a search warrant found items at Thales’ home, including blood-stained shoes and a straw hat that had been cut into pieces. Authorities said they did not immediately find the weapon used to kill the Germans.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, a Republican who ran for governor in November, said investigators also obtained security video that may show the attack.
The Nevada Press Association announced that the German will be inducted into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame this Saturday.
German joined Review-Journal in 2010 after more than 20 years at the rival Las Vegas Sun, where he was a columnist and reporter covering courts, politics, labor, government and organized crime.
Thales grew up in El Paso, Texas, and lived in Colorado before moving to Las Vegas. He has worked as a Heating and Air Conditioning Technician and graduated from the University of Nevada Law School in Las Vegas in 2014. He worked in probate and estate law, replacing three-term predecessors, before being elected as a public administrator in 2018.
The Review-Journal reported that Thales’ late grandfather, Richard Thales, worked in El Paso as a city clerk, school board trustee and county commissioner. Uncle Raymond L. Telles Jr. was the city’s first Mexican-American mayor and was named ambassador to Costa Rica by President John F. Kennedy and chairman of the U.S.-Mexico Border Commission by President Lyndon Johnson.
Telles’ father, Raymond R. Telles, was elected to the El Paso City Council for two terms but lost the mayoral race. He later renounced his legal license and avoided jail time after pleading guilty to federal conspiracy and wire fraud.
Court and police records show Robert Telles was arrested in Las Vegas in February 2020 after his wife called 911. He was accused of grabbing her in a “bear hug” and resisting attempts by two police officers to handcuff him. During his arrest, Thales, who was caught on police body cameras, admitted he had been drinking and repeatedly identified himself as a public official.
The case was dismissed and closed in March 2021 after Telles paid a $418 fine, attended counseling and ran into no trouble.
His term expires on Dec. 31, but Clark County officials said he has been suspended and banned from county offices or property pending a review of his position as an elected official.