Las Vegas Tribune
April 24, 2002

New Public Administrator Should Clean House

The April 10, Las Vegas Tribune Editorial "The Public Administrator Must Be Held Accountable" has generated quite a bit of feedback. This was not the first shocking story in this newspaper about Public Administrator Jared Shafer who was first appointed to office in 1978 and is retiring at the end of this year. In 1998, the Tribune reported the alleged mistreatment of Anna Marie Gaul, a wealthy Alzheimer's patient in Shafer's charge who twice suffered blackened eyes and other signs of physical abuse.

Problems in this trouble plagued county agency go back many years.

In 1983, law enforcement officials criticized Shafer for not being aware that an employee of his office was stealing checks from estates of dead people. On December 30, 1983, a story in the Review Journal under the headline "Mob connection probed in check thefts" stated, "It was reported earlier the FBI became involved in the probe after it was discovered checks allegedly stolen from local estates by an employee and a former employee of the county Public Administrator's office were being postdated to a time before the individuals died, and cashed out of state."

The article went on to say "Public Administrator Jared Shafer, who was reluctant to discuss the matter, confirmed he had suspended the employee." The two former employees later pleaded guilty.

Bear in mind that this incident happened five years into Shafer's career as PA!

On May 20, 1984, a story entitled "Shafer funnels bulk of work to one law firm" appeared in the RJ. It stated "Clark County Public Administrator Jared Shafer is funneling the bulk of his office's workload to one Las Vegas law firm whose partners have a business relationship with him on the side, a check of records shows."

"The Public Administrator also confirmed he owns three parcels of downtown property in conjunction with the law partners and 'probably" has business relationships with other lawyers that do business with his office," reported the RJ. "I will buy more property with them if I can get it," stated Shafer.

It was later discovered that Patricia Trent, one of Shafer's real estate partners, handles more than half of the PA's cases. Shafer’s partner Trent still actively represents the PA's office and was present during recent a hearing regarding the welfare of Anna Marie Gaul.

The 1984 article went on to say "Shafer, an elected official, also admits to hiring his neighbors to do work for his office, but insists none of the relationships constitute conflict of interest - just good management." One of Shafer's neighbors was identified as a schoolteacher who moonlighted as a furniture mover operating without a business license. Shafer admitted to funneling "most" of his department's moving business to his neighbor because the man was able to work "flexible hours."

In 1987, Shafer was sued by a man for taking control of his mother's $1.2 million estate. Shafer's attorney, Herb Waldman, a man allegedly related to Shafer, responded to the son's charge saying "This is not the first time someone becomes ill and a relative comes along and ends up with everything in their names." Waldman went on to call the son a "thief." Waldman was paid with funds taken out of the woman's account. His fee exceeded $30,000.

Shafer was also criticized in 1987 for giving all of his department's real estate liquidation sales to the real estate firm of then-City Councilman Al Levy - a close friend.

In June 1987, another article appeared in the RJ entitled "The Public Administrator under a cloud." The writer, former Clark County District Attorney George Franklin, accused Shafer of illegally charging fees for his guardianship services in addition to his salary. Franklin recommended that the County Commission investigate the PA's office.

Then a recall was attempted against Shafer. A newspaper advertisement promoting the recall stated: "Attention Senior Citizens, so you have a will, so what! If you are over 60 years old and become incapacitated, you may become a ward of the Public Administrator/Guardian Jared Shafer. Once you have become a ward, any estate you have will come under his control whether you recover or not. The court allows expenditures which he directs even if you disagree since he has no supervision, no county agency which controls him, he has the last word on what happens to you! Don't let him do to you what he has done to my family. On the basis of a complaint or phone referral that you are in need of care, you can literally be dragged out of your home and placed in alternative care."

The recall effort failed.

Now, many years later, little is reported about Jared Shafer other than he is retiring and wants to hand pick his successor - former Justice of the Peace Dan Ahlstrom. Like Shafer, Ahlstrom also has a checkered past. In 1996, Ahlstrom admitted to a felony charge which resulted in him having to resign his judgeship and pay $25,000 in restitution. "Birds of a feather…?"

The next Public Administrator must be so trustworthy as to be beyond reproach. That's why the Editorial Board of this newspaper recommends that the new PA thoroughly clean out Shafer's agency as the first order of business.

More to come.