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LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – On Friday, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced that six defendants are former employees of the Nevada Department of Transportation, and have been arrested for their roles in a massive tire theft ring.

The six men were are facing a total of 21 felony charges for their roles in the tire theft operation. The accused are: 54 year old David Dinicola of Las Vegas, 58 year old Anthony Canada of Pahrump, 55 year old Steve Pappas of Las Vegas, 62 year old Dale Wageman of Henderson, 46 year old Richard Matters of Henderson, 54 year old Benito DeSantiago of Las Vegas and 41 year old Virgilio Quezada of Las Vegas.

The charges include four counts of theft in the amount of $3,500 or more, a category “B” felony; three counts of theft in the amount of $650 or more, a category “C” felony; four counts of embezzlement in the amount of $3,500 or more, a category “B” felony; five counts of possession of stolen property, a category “C” felony; one count of burglary, a category “B” felony; and one count of multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of enterprise or occupation, a category “B” felony. The alleged frauds were committed between December 2014 and April 2015.

According to the complaint, during his employment at the Department of Transportation, Canada used a State of Nevada credit card to make unlawful purchases of new tires. Canada would then, along with Pappas, Dinicola and Wageman who at the time were also employees of the Department of Transportation, submit false work orders or labor hours to justify the purchases. The complaint further alleges that DeSantiago, Quezada and Matters illegally took possession of these fraudulently-obtained tires.

“Public service is public trust,” said Attorney General Laxalt. “My office will continue to focus complex investigations, and crack down on public servants who allegedly abuse their positions of trust,” Laxalt said.

In July, 2016, the Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee unanimously approved AG Laxalt’s request to combat increasing financial fraud within the State using non-taxpayer settlement funds awarded to his Office. The newly created Financial Fraud Unit aims to target sophisticated criminal enterprises that victimize Nevadans on a large scale, to integrate with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to leverage resources, to increase flexibility in order to quickly respond to emerging trends in financial fraud, and to immediately increase existing funding levels to legal aid centers to provide pro bono civil representation in guardianship cases.

In addition to this complex public integrity case, AG Laxalt is proud to have led several large scale criminal justice initiatives, including securing the most significant guardianship exploitation indictment in Nevada’s history; prosecuting the largest multi-defendant case in the history of the Office of the Nevada Attorney General where 24 defendants were charged in a staged accident ring; obtaining the first state-level criminal prosecution of an illegal Internet poker site using Bitcoin as currency; chairing Nevada’s statewide Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Working Group to reduce Nevada’s backlog of nearly 8,000 untested sexual assault kits; initiating the office’s very first Financial Fraud Unit; creating a “Prescription for Addiction” opioid initiative to combat the use, abuse and misuse of prescription drugs in Nevada; and hosting seven law enforcement summits with attendees from all of Nevada’s counties to discuss how to effectively address emerging criminal trends.\

A complaint is merely a charging document; every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

In a law enforcement operation earlier on Friday, five of the seven defendants were taken into custody. Two defendants remain at large. This case was investigated and is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Financial Fraud and Public Integrity Units. None of the defendants is currently employed by the State of Nevada.

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