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Police call for phone records in Guv Sex Case

Las Vegas- Metro Police have subpoenaed telephone records of Republican Gov.-elect Jim Gibbons, political strategist Sig Rogich and other witnesses in the investigation into allegations that Gibbons assaulted a woman and tried to force himself on her sexually.

Home and cell phone records of everyone who was drinking with Gibbons and Rogich at McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant before the Oct. 13 alleged assault on Chrissy Mazzeo were among the records subpoenaed, sources close to the investigation told the Sun.

Others at the restaurant whose records were subpoenaed, the sources said, include Mazzeo’s friend, Pennie Puhek, and two women, Georganne Bradley and Michelle Diegel, who work in a law firm that shares a Hughes Center suite with Rogich’s public relations company.

Puhek confirmed to the Sun this week that in the days following the incident she called Mazzeo “several times” and spoke at least twice with Diegel, who says she has known Rogich for a decade.

During that period, Mazzeo claims she was being coerced to keep silent about what happened between her and Gibbons at a parking garage across the street from McCormick & Schmick’s.

Mazzeo, a 32-year-old single mother and cocktail waitress, has said that Puhek telephoned to urge her to recant her story. Puhek told her, Mazzeo contends, that the Gibbons camp was willing to offer money if she would sign a “silence agreement.”

Mazzeo’s attorney, Richard Wright, told the Sun last week that Mazzeo’s cell phone records show numerous calls between her and Puhek – from immediately after the late-night encounter to several days later. Wright has turned over those records to police.

Sources said police want to talk with officials from Mazzeo’s cell phone company, T-Mobile, to determine whether the company can retrieve deleted voice-mail messages from Puhek to Mazzeo.

Detectives, the sources said, also are calling all witnesses for a new round of interviews.

Gibbons, a five-term congressman, is among those being asked to give another interview – this time at the police department, the sources said.

The new police interviews come as Gibbons’ defeated Democratic opponent, state Sen. Dina Titus, and others, including Gary Peck of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, have called for an independent investigation because of concerns over how Metro has handled the probe – both of the Oct. 13 incident and of Mazzeo’s claim that the Gibbons campaign tried to cover it up.

Sheriff Bill Young, who has strongly defended the police investigation, has been criticized after acknowledging that he telephoned Gibbons the day after the incident to arrange for him to be questioned by detectives. The interview took place later that day in the congressman’s hotel suite at the Marriott Residence Inn across from McCormick & Schmick’s.

Young also has been faulted for making public statements early in the investigation that appeared to favor Gibbons, a fellow Republican whom the sheriff endorsed.

Mazzeo decided not to file charges against Gibbons the afternoon after the incident, saying she did not want to publicly tangle with such a powerful figure. She did not, however, recant, as some in the Gibbons camp inaccurately claimed.

Puhek, in a brief telephone interview with the Sun on Wednesday, denied pressuring Mazzeo into dropping the case. She said that the notion that she was acting on behalf of anyone from the Gibbons camp was “absolutely fabricated.”

“I am an honest person who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said.

Puhek had arranged to meet with Sun reporters Thursday, but canceled after her attorney, John Bailey of Las Vegas, advised her not to go to the interview.

In her earlier phone interview with the Sun, Puhek, who talked to Metro last week, declined to go into detail about what she discussed with Mazzeo in their phone conversations in the hours and days after the incident.

Puhek said she spoke with Diegel, a high school friend, “a couple times” because Puhek was not sure what to do after a reporter showed up at her door.

(Late Friday, Puhek again called the Sun – this time to request, after talking to her attorney, that the newspaper not run any story on her phone comments on Wednesday.)

Before her comments to the Sun, Puhek had limited her public remarks to two written statements.

In the first, issued Oct. 18, she said that she witnessed nothing inappropriate between Mazzeo and Gibbons while they and others were having drinks at McCormick & Schmick’s. That conflicts with Mazzeo’s account that Gibbons was flirtatious and dropped sexually suggestive comments, such as how close his hotel was to the restaurant.

One week later, the day after Wright first reported the calls to Mazzeo during a news conference, Puhek issued another statement saying that she never suggested that Mazzeo not press charges. She also said that she did not speak with anyone “associated with the Gibbons campaign” until the day that she made her first statement.

Diegel, who signed a statement Oct. 18 that supports Puhek’s version of events, declined to comment for this story. She has never answered questions about the matter, including what she discussed with Puhek and whether she did so on behalf of Rogich or anyone else associated with Gibbons.

Mazzeo, through her other attorney, Karen Winckler, also declined to comment, although Mazzeo previously has said she did not step forward with her claims to obtain money from Gibbons.

Rogich was out of town and could not be reached.

Young would not discuss the specifics of the investigation. But he said: “I think in a week or two we’ll have this case wrapped up and ready to present our findings to the district attorney.”

Young stressed that authenticating the parking garage’s security tapes – which do not show Gibbons or Mazzeo – is the department’s most crucial task. Hughes Center officials, after first denying that the tapes existed, turned them over to police 11 days after incident.

Experts have questioned the tapes’ credibility because they were not in police custody from the start and could have been altered in ways virtually impossible to detect.

But Young said he was confident that his department would be able to determine whether the tapes had been manipulated.

“I’ve been told that we have the expertise, capability and technology to determine the authenticity of the tapes to ensure that they have not been altered in any way,” he said.

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