(CN) – Former Clark County Commissioner Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, convicted in 2006 of accepting cash brides from a strip-club owner in exchange for her votes, has lost her last legal fight to clear her name.
The 9th Circuit found that a lower court correctly prohibited her from calling certain high-powered witnesses to the stand during her trial on accusations that she sold her votes to a strip-club owner.
Kincaid-Chauncey was accused of accepting at least four cash bribes of up to $5,000 from strip-club owner Michael Galardi, who owned the now-defunct Cheetah’s in Las Vegas and who sought to open two more clubs in Clark County.
Clark County is the unincorporated area of Las Vegas that is not within city limits. It is home to the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Following an FBI sting operation, Kincaid-Chauncey was accused of accepting the money from Galardi to ease county ordinances governing strip clubs in Clark County. Galardi allegedly lobbied for dancers under the age of 21 to perform, for them to dance completely nude, and for the dancers to be able to touch their patrons.
Kincaid-Chauncey and her co-defendant, former Commissioner Dario Herrera, were convicted in May 2006. Kincaid-Chauncey got a 30-month prison term followed by two years of supervised release.
She appealed, arguing that U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks denied her the right to a fair trial by rejecting her proposed witnesses.
During trial, attorneys for Kincaid-Chauncey, who was a commissioner from 1997 to 2000, questioned Galardi on cross-examination about whether he paid money to several other public officials, including Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Clark County District Attorney David Roger, and Clark County District Court Judges Lee Gates and Donald Mosley.
She hoped to cripple Galardi’s credibility by showing that he had lied about making payments to those officials, and to her.
However, Judge Jay Bybee found that a witness can be impeached only on information provided during direct examination, thus Kincaid-Chauncey was not entitled to call those witnesses in an attempt to attack Galardi’s credibility.
“Allowing the defendant to call the mayor, members of the city council, judges and other public officials to testify about extraneous events would have created a huge sideshow to what was already a trial of notoriety,” Bybee wrote in his 46-page opinion.
“None of the proffered testimony was central to the core issues of the trial, and thus it is precisely the type of evidence that the collator fact rule is designed to exclude.”