Jeff German: The Man Who Took on The Top Guns of Las Vegas

Las Vegas Strip at Night

When I first moved to Las Vegas in 2001, I was knocked into reverie by its allure. But I’ve lived in Vegas long enough to understand that behind the curtains of the resplendent scenery lies crimes and faces skillfully hidden from public view.

While some criminal acts and their perpetrators still remain secret, men like Jeff German dedicate decades to uncovering the truths shrouded by the glitters and glamour of Las Vegas.

Jeff German exposed the dark sides of Vegas without sugarcoating the truth or cowering before dubious powerful men. His work made him a trusted journalist among Las Vegans.

However, in the early hours of September 3, 2022, media houses greeted Las Vegans with the unsettling news that Jeff German was stabbed to death outside his home.

Who Was Jeff German?

Before moving to Vegas, I came across the name Jeff German through his published book titled ‘Murder in Sin City: The Death of a Las Vegas Casino Boss’. The book tells a detailed story of the events surrounding the murder of Ted Binion, Binion’s Horseshoe Casino boss.

But beyond being a published author, Jeff German was an award-winning investigative journalist known for his top-notch investigative and journalistic skills. He worked as a reporter for the Las Vegas Review-journal after he was laid off by the Las Vegas sun.

His reports covered crimes of mobsters in the gambling sector, extremist activities in Southern Nevada, murderers, and nefarious activities of government agencies and officials.

Here are some of his legendary reports.

1.   The Las Vegas Strip Mass Murder

On 1st October 2021, Las Vegas was sprayed with bullets at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. This led to the loss of 58 lives, while 489 persons were terribly injured.

Jeff German made his findings regarding the mass shooting and was the first to report that the shooter, Stephen Paddock, shot at jet fuel tanks twice before targeting the mass at the festival.

2.   The Binion Story

The death of Ted Binion, the ex-Binion’s horseshoe casino boss, still remains a controversial issue. When the report of his death was initially lodged with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (also known as the Metro), it was concluded that Binion, a drug addict, was a victim of an overdose.

I call the investigation conducted by the Las Vegas Metro a total fiasco. They couldn’t detect the evidence pointing to the crime of murder that would have been glaring to other Metro Police departments.

But when they thought investigations into the case should close, Jeff German plunged himself into the investigation. His belief that the casino boss could have been a victim of foul play led to the findings that birthed the book ‘Murder in Sin City: The Death of a Las Vegas Casino Boss’.

3.   The Robert Telles Scandal

The Clark County Public Administrator’s office, overseen by Robert Telles, came under the scope of Jeff German’s investigative eyes. He wrote a report exposing the turmoil in the office alleged to be an offshoot of acts of bullying, favoritism, and inappropriate relationship with a staffer by Robert Telles.

Although Telles denied the allegations, Jeff continued with his investigation into the case until he was stabbed to death.

(Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles was arrested in connection with the stabbing death of Review-Journal reporter Jeff German.)

Despite the dangers that accompany investigative journalism, Jeff had the guts, curiosity, and desire to unravel hidden truths. This spurred him to conduct investigations into the acts of persons who thought they were ‘untouchables’.

Jeff German Versus the Untouchables

There were times when two major casinos ran the media machines in town. Since the media houses needed their money to stay in business, they played by their rules. But that changed in 2015 when Nevada’s largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was sold to Sheldon Adelson’s family. Sheldon Adelson was the man who gave us the Venetian and the Palazzo.

With the new owners came new money and a new attitude. They put their support behind an investigative team of gallant reporters that went after the powerful people—who thought they were untouchables—and acted as they pleased.

Jeff was among the team of these investigative reporters. He went looking for a good story and out of curiosity, stopped at the office of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

The LVCVA is supposedly responsible for marketing Las Vegas. But in reality, it’s more like the marketing arm of MGM.

Jeff’s prying eyes hoped to glance through the LVCVA’s public records, but they didn’t like being questioned about their operations. Jeff was relentless. He kept asking questions, especially about the acts of Rossi Ralenkotter, the then authority’s president and CEO.

The Vegas Media Machine

Pre-social media, there was and may still be a time when the casinos ran the media machines in town. You say what they want you to say or they don’t talk and they don’t advertise. Being that two casino companies run the town, you need their money to stay in business so you play by their rules.

That changed In 2015. Nevada’s largest newspaper, The Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper (often called simply “the R-J) was sold to Sheldon Adelson’s family, through a wholly-owned fund. Sheldon Adelson was the man who gave us the Venetian and the Palazzo.

With the new owners came new money and a new attitude. The new owners put their support behind an investigative team of reporters that did what was unthinkable in Las Vegas. Go after the untouchables. The people behind the power in this city who do as they please and report to nobody. Jeff german was on that team.

One of the Untouchables Gets Touched

Jeff went looking for a good story and out of curiosity, decided to stop in at the offices of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

The LVCVA organization is paid for by the room taxes and is supposedly responsible for marketing Las Vegas. In reality, it acts more like a marketing arm of MGM.

It turns out, that people at the LVCVA don’t like being asked questions about how they operate and if they would kindly cough up public records. Jeff didn’t go away and he kept asking questions. Especially of Rossi Ralenkotter, the authority’s president and CEO

The LVCVA believed they had no reason to keep public records showing how taxes or gifts they got from vendors were used since they had major political connections in the state.

I remember watching one of LVCVA board of Directors’ “Annual Review”. It was a joke.

Ralenkotter spent ninety minutes being narcissistic. He told the LVCVA board about himself, how he saved Las Vegas tourism after the October 1, 2017 incident, and his efforts towards raising money for the convention center expansion.

The board never interrupted to ask for clarification on any point or even ask any questions concerning his acts as the authority’s CEO. They just nodded and voted to give him a bonus almost equal to his half-million dollar salary plus a raise of 50%.

But in 2019, his deeds got exposed by Jeff and his team. Ralenkotter was arrested for felony theft and processed at his home so he would not have to be bothered with going down to the jail or the courthouse.

Amazingly, even begin arrested and found guilty of his crimes, the LVCVA board let him name the CEO that’d replace him! Keep it in the “family”

If you ever wonder why some of us call the LVCVA a criminal organization, you can look to the work of Jeff German and his team for shining the light on its misdeed. Plus other such stories they have investigated since.

So, What’s Next?

Jeff German will certainly be missed. His death will greatly impact the tourism sector. It shows how large the crime hole in Las Vegas is. This dents the image of Vegas and might deter prospective visitors from entering the city.

Las Vegans are subtly waiting to see if anyone would follow the tracks left by Jeff. There could be more crimes happening behind the scenes since, in Vegas, there’s still a lot of space out in the desert for a few more holes.