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Strippergate Comish Files Appeal

Las Vegas- Since her conviction on political corruption charges in May, former Clark County Commissioner Mary Kincaid-Chauncey has vowed to appeal the verdict. Last week, she followed through on that promise, filing the appeal in federal court.

“My good name is very important to me, so that’s why I’m doing it,” Kincaid-Chauncey said Thursday. “I worked very hard for a lot of years to have a good reputation and a good name.”

A 2003 indictment followed by a guilty verdict tarnished the reputation Kincaid-Chauncey built as a public official in Southern Nevada during her 27 years in office.

Kincaid-Chauncey and her co-defendant, former Commissioner Dario Herrera, were found guilty of pocketing cash bribes from strip club owner Michael Galardi. In exchange, the two board members voted favorably on matters related to Galardi’s strip club empire.

Kincaid-Chauncey said she believes she might have a better shot at clearing her name if a jury has the opportunity to listen to the evidence against her alone. Because she was on trial with Herrera, jurors were inundated with stories about his extramarital affairs and sexual exploits with Galardi employees. Jurors might have been turned off by the salacious content of some testimony, she said.

“We didn’t have that option,” Kincaid-Chauncey said of separating the trial into two. “They wouldn’t let us separate from each other.”

On the eve of her eight-week trial, U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks granted Kincaid-Chauncey, 68, indigent status, meaning that she could no longer afford to pay her high-priced criminal defense attorney, Richard Wright. The government paid her fees at a reduced rate.

Kincaid-Chauncey opted to go without Wright for the appeals process and will be represented by the federal public defender’s office, she said. Wright will serve as an advisor to Franny Forsman, who has served as a federal public defender since 1989.

Kincaid-Chauncey was sentenced to 30 months in a federal prison camp and is scheduled to begin her term in January.

Kincaid-Chauncey, a grandmother and flower shop owner, said Thursday that she recognizes that if an appellate judge grants a new trial, she probably will have completed her prison sentence by the time the proceedings begin.

“When a politician is accused of something, people automatically think they’re guilty,” she said. “No matter what happens, I’m sure there will be people who will always believe I did something wrong. I want my kids and my grandkids to be able to say, ‘Well, she was cleared of that.'”

Also named in the indictment were Galardi and Kincaid-Chauncey’s former colleagues, Erin Kenny and Lance Malone. Kenny and Galardi pleaded guilty in 2003 and have served as government witnesses during the past three years.

After Malone left office, he became Galardi’s right-hand man, allegedly delivering bags of cash to politicians in Southern Nevada and San Diego. Last summer, Malone was found guilty of political corruption charges and sentenced to 36 months in prison. He is out on bail pending an appeal.

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