LAS VEGAS — A Clark County administrator accused of the brutal daylight killing of an investigative reporter was “lying in wait” for the man before the fatal stabbing outside the man’s Las Vegas home, court records allege.
Robert Telles, 45, is charged with murder in the Sept. 2 death of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German. Enhancements to the charge include the use of a deadly weapon and the fact that the victim was an older person.
Telles’ arraignment was delayed on Monday after his defense lawyer requested more time to prepare, the Las Vegas Sun reported. A criminal complaint filed that same day accused the public official of waiting for German outside his home in broad daylight and subsequently killing him.
The arraignment was rescheduled for Sept. 20, the Sun reported. Telles, a lawyer who practiced probate law before his election, faces life in prison or a possible death sentence if convicted.
Telles, who was elected to the post of Clark County public administrator in 2019, oversaw the office that handles the estates of residents who die with no one to fulfill that task. Though he is behind bars and no longer working, he will likely remain in office until January, when a new administrator takes the post.
Rita Reid, the top supervisor in his office, knocked Telles out of the running for reelection in the June Democratic primary. The general election is in November.
Telles will continue to draw his salary, which KLAS reported is $130,000 annually.
“For now, he’s still an elected officer and he’ll get paid while he’s in jail,” Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom told the station Friday.
In a statement issued last week, officials said the county was “reviewing its options under the law” to determine how Telles could possibly be removed prior to the end of his term. The administrator’s office has been temporarily closed and employees are working from home, the statement read.
German, 69, was found dead the morning of Sept. 3 in the yard along the side of his Bronze Circle home. According to authorities, he had been stabbed seven times, including wounds to the neck and torso.
He also had defensive wounds on his arms, according to The Associated Press.
“He was fighting for his life,” Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Elana Lee Graham said during a court hearing last week.
Telles was arrested Sept. 7 after his DNA was matched to genetic material found under German’s fingernails, the AP reported. Video from German’s neighborhood, including his own security camera, captured the homicide, authorities said.
“This is a terrible and jarring homicide, one that has deeply impacted Las Vegas,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said during a news conference the next day. “Every murder is tragic, but the killing of a journalist is particularly troublesome.”
Reid, who with other employees went to German about Telles’ alleged behavior, told ABC News on Tuesday that German helped to expose the toxic work environment they were subjected to each day.
“His death was absolutely devastating to myself and my co-workers, the people that he advocated for,” Reid said. “He was our hero.”
See Reid’s interview below, courtesy of “Good Morning America.”
She said when she learned of German’s murder, she had one thought.
“My first thought was: Robert Telles,” she said.
Exposing corruption and misdeeds
German, whose career spanned four decades, had reported extensively on Telles’ alleged mismanagement of his office, including claims of bullying, favoritism and a hostile work environment. According to German’s reporting, Telles also had an “inappropriate relationship” with an employee.
Several employees decided to secretly videotape Telles and the woman getting into the back seat of her car to prove the relationship, the May 16 story stated. Telles and the woman, both of whom are married, denied that their relationship was inappropriate.
Telles subsequently lost his bid for reelection in June and, by all accounts, blamed German for his loss.
“The published articles regarding a public figure, the public administrator’s office, ruined (Telles’) political career, likely his marriage, and this was him lashing out at the cause,” Chief Deputy Clark County District Attorney Richard Scow said in court last week.
Telles took to social media multiple times to complain about German’s reporting, calling German a “bully” who “can’t take a pound of criticism after slinging 100 pounds of BS.” His public posts on Twitter offered no glimpse of potential violence, however.
The Review-Journal’s executive editor, Glenn Cook, told the AP that there was talk among those in the newsroom about Telles being “unhinged,” but no one anticipated what allegedly unfolded. Telles had made no physical threats against German and the reporter had not expressed fear or worry.
Little about his job scared the seasoned journalist.
“He cut his teeth covering the mob,” Cook said. “Jeff spent over 40 years covering the worst of the worst of Las Vegas. This was a guy who ran down mobsters, wise guys and killers.”
Though Telles had made no overt threats against German, he was arrested in 2020 after a drunken argument in which he was accused of grabbing his wife by the throat. His wife was driving them home from an evening at the Bellagio when the incident began, according to records obtained by KTNV.
Once they were home, Telles’ behavior escalated to the point that his wife and children barricaded themselves into another room, the police report states.
Las Vegas police Capt. Dori Koren, who heads the department’s homicide division, said that Telles was identified early in the investigation as a potential suspect due to his anger over German’s reporting, including a follow-up story the journalist was working on when he was slain.
“Telles had publicly expressed his issues with that reporting,” Koren said. “We found out later there was additional reporting that was pending.”
Court records obtained by KTNV outline what detectives allege is the timeline of the homicide. It begins at 10:54 a.m. Sept. 2, when a maroon GMC Yukon Denali is seen on security video arriving in the area of German’s home.
Investigators later determined that a maroon Denali is registered to Telles’ wife, according to authorities. The vehicle can be seen parked in front of the couple’s home in a July Google Street View image.
German’s killer, also seen on security footage wearing a large straw hat and a fluorescent orange, long-sleeved shirt, arrives on German’s property 24 minutes later. The suspect, whose face was obscured by his hat, walks to the west side of the home and approaches the gate leading into German’s backyard, the news station reported.
A few minutes later, German walks out of his garage and over to the westside gate.
“German approached the pedestrian gate and was immediately attacked,” the records state. “German fell to the ground and never got back up.”
His attacker “calmly” walks east, away from German’s home.
Six minutes later, the maroon Denali parks directly in front of the house. The suspect gets out, goes back to the area where German lay dead or dying, and “appears to look for something,” investigators wrote.
He then gets back in the vehicle and leaves.
German’s body was not found for nearly 24 hours after he was slain.
Video obtained from the area of Telles’ home shows his wife’s SUV leaving the neighborhood at 9:12 a.m. the morning German was slain. The vehicle returns around 11:51 a.m., 33 minutes after the reporter’s killer arrived at his property.
Telles and German lived about 6 miles from one another, a drive of about 15 minutes.
Homicide detectives went to Telles’ home Sept. 7 and executed multiple search warrants, including one for his DNA. While searching the home, they found a pair of shoes that were similar to those worn by the suspect seen in the security footage, KTNV reported.
A photo of one of the shoes made public by police shows an apparent bloodstain. The shoe is also cut into pieces in an apparent effort to get rid of evidence.
Also found cut into pieces was a straw hat that appears to match the one worn by the alleged killer.
Later that evening, after the DNA results came in, detectives went to Telles’ home on Spanish Steps Lane to arrest him. According to the news station, he “refused to exit the house and made suicidal statements.”
SWAT officers were able to take him into custody following a brief standoff. News video from the scene shows Telles being loaded into an ambulance, which took him to a hospital for treatment of self-inflicted injuries.
Court documents describe the wounds as “superficial wounds to his arms and possible ingestion of narcotics.”
Following Telles’ arrest, county officials stated that management had decided — after learning of his “personnel issues” — to no longer have the staff at the administrator’s office report directly to Telles. That status was anticipated to remain in place until his replacement is elected in November.
“Clark County continues to cooperate with the LVMPD on this active investigation,” the statement said. “Our condolences are with Jeff German’s family, friends and colleagues at the Review-Journal.”
Cook said that those in the newsroom had mixed emotions about Telles’ arrest, the AP reported.
“We are relieved Robert Telles is in custody and outraged that a colleague appears to have been killed for reporting on an elected official,” Cook’s statement said. “Journalists can’t do the important work our communities require if they are afraid a presentation of facts could lead to violent retribution.
“Hopefully, the Review-Journal, the German family and Jeff’s many friends can begin the process of mourning and honoring a great man and a brave reporter.”
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