Two Prison Guards Charged With A Felony And Other Alleged Crimes

Charges Stem From An Incident At Southern Desert Correctional Center

June 29, 2018 - 2:31 pm

LAS VEGAS (KXNT) - Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced that on Thursday 29 year old Paul Valdez of Las Vegas, and 38 year old Jose Navarrete of Las Vegas, were bound over to District Court for trial after a Las Vegas Justice of the Peace found probable cause to support charges against them. The charges stem from an incident at Southern Desert Correctional Center, where Valdez worked as a correctional officer and Navarrete worked as a senior correctional officer. The incident happened on October 9, 2016.

According to the criminal complaint, Valdez and Navarrete used force against inmate Ricky Norelus when Valdez threw Norelus to the ground and both officers used force to detain him. The complaint goes on to allege that after using unjustified force against Norelus, the officers submitted falsified reports regarding the incident. In the reports, it is alleged, Valdez and Navarrette knowingly made false statements about Norelus's conduct. Both men are charged with a category "D" felony of Oppression Under Color of Office and Inhumanity to Prisoner and False Report by Public Officer, both gross misdemeanors.

"Nevada's peace officers are entrusted by the public to uphold the law," said AG Laxalt. "The charges in this case illustrate what is a cornerstone of our criminal justice system, that the law applies to everyone, and we in law enforcement vigilantly uphold that standard," said Laxalt.

If convicted, Valdez and Navarrete face up to four years in prison for the felony charge and up to one year of imprisonment for each gross misdemeanor charge. All of the offenses are probation able. Neither man is currently employed by the Department of Corrections.

This case was investigated by the Inspector General's Office and is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Daniel Westmeyer. A complaint is merely a charging document. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.