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Jeff German vs The Untouchables

Las Vegas Strip at Night

Saturday morning started with the news that Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German, one of our state’s most accomplished and trusted journalists, was found stabbed to death outside his home.

To most people, seeing that splashed across the headlines means relatively nothing. It’s a noted fact that crime in las Vegas is skyrocketing. But for the people that work in the Las Vegas tourism industry, that name means a lot of things. To see that he was killed has a lot of people nervous. Some for good reasons and some for bad reasons.

The list of murder suspects is long and notorious. Some powerful people in Las Vegas don’t like to be questioned about what they do and how they do it. Jeff had the balls to ask them questions regardless and he expected answers.

The Binion Fiasco

My first encounter with the name Jeff German was right before I moved to Las Vegas. He had published a book called Murder in Sin City: Death of a Casino Bossurder in Sin City. The story of the murder of Binion Casino boss Ted Binion.

I say fiasco because the Ted Binion murder investigation was a complete F*ck-up from start to finish. The Three Stooges would have conducted a better investigation!

When any other metro police department would have seen the big red arrows pointing to important crime scene evidence, ours saw the wealthy drug-addicted heir to a casino fortune finally getting his just reward. Case closed. So they thought.

Jeff didn’t sugarcoat anything as he told the story of the people behind the murder and those who wanted it to go away. He answered all the old basic journalism questions: who, when, why, and where. He wasn’t afraid to name names or to point a big spotlight at all the corruption that runs this town.

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

Being the LVCVA, the most politically connected organization in the state, they had no reason to think THEY needed to keep any records on how they spent the tax money or what they did with gifts from vendors. Who would dare question them?

I remember, before everything collapsed on its CEO, I saw a video of his “Annual Review” by the LVCVA board of Directors. What a joke that was.

Ralenkotter spent ninety minutes telling the LVCVA board how wonderful HE was. How HE saved Las Vegas tourism after October 1. How HE brought back the big conventions and how HE secured money for the convention center expansion. Never once did he mention anyone else. Good or bad, listening to him tell it, he did it all by himself. He is a world-class narcissist.

The board never interrupted, never asked for clarification on any point, or even asked any questions of him. They just nodded and voted to give him a bonus almost equal to his half-million dollar salary plus a raise of 50%.

Then in 2019, when he was arrested for felony theft, he was arrested and processed at his home so he would not have to be bothered with going down to the jail or the courthouse. Plus he got to name his replacement CEO!!

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

Jeff German will certainly be missed. Unfortunately, with Jeff’s murder, there is a chill in the air around anyone who wants to follow in his footsteps. As they say; This is still Las Vegas and there’s still a lot of space out in the desert for a few more holes…

Update: 9/7/2022 Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles was arrested in connection with the stabbing death of Review-Journal reporter Jeff German.