In a case that has garnered local media attention, fueled by their obsession with politics and narratives, a civil suit involving plaintiff Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve versus defendant David McNeely, a certified private investigator who has been licensed for seven years and subject to review by a state board, has taken an interesting turn on the defendant’s behalf and raises more questions regarding: the conduct of the Sparks Police Department; their related investigation utilizing broad subpoenas; the investigation of Mayor Schieve, and the allegations that she has levied against P.I. McNeely.
Back in December, Mayor Schieve told The Nevada Independent that a mechanic found a tracking device while working on her vehicle. She brought the device to the Sparks police department and they were able to determine that it had been purchased by private investigator David McNeely of 5 Alpha Industries. A spokesperson for the mayor said Schieve went to the Sparks department rather than Reno police in order to “keep clear of any conflict of interest questions.”
Yet, there appears to be a conflict of interest in the investigative methods used by the Sparks police department and a detective’s research to find a crime after McNeely’s identification and certification had been verified. Furthermore, the detectives admit to giving Mayor Schieve’s complaint and related investigation priority due to her position and the upcoming election.
The Globe has received a video of Mayor Schieve’s interview with the Sparks detectives assigned to the investigation. At the end of the interview, Schieve asks the detectives if they need a job.
The Globe contacted the Sparks police department and spoke to a detective close to the case. Although the detective could not answer specific questions about the subpoenas issued by the department, the detective told The Globe that the subpoenas were filed to establish motivation and that “context is everything in an investigation” as the placement of the device could have been related to something criminal.
In the video, one of the detectives says that “this case was a priority for us.” When asked if this case was given special attention due to Ms. Schieve’s position, the detective confirmed that due to her position within the community and the upcoming election, the case was a priority for the Sparks Police department.
The video also reveals that Schieve wanted to make this case “very public”. Schieve says she would be contacting Attorney General Aaron Ford and would seek additional legislation which would require private investigators to obtain a warrant prior to the placement of a tracking device. “I am sure I can get someone at the legislature to carry that bill,” Schieve told the detectives.
The investigators agreed with her and shared her concern stating, “It is wrong. We are all in agreement with that. It is wrong to invade someone’s privacy.” However, during our phone call, the detective noted that private investigators are licensed and are subject to a Board’s review. “I won’t try and encourage legislation. I don’t have a problem with a private investigator placing a tracker,” the detective told The Globe.
Upon conclusion of their investigation, the Sparks police department found no evidence of criminal activity, stalking, or trespassing and did not press charges against McNeely as Nevada revised statute 179.451 permits the use of a tracking device to track the movement of a person or object.
Schieve has since filed a civil lawsuit (see below) alleging that McNeely had trespassed onto her property to install the device without her consent. The complaint cites that McNeely was working on behalf of an “unidentified third party”. The complaint also alleges, without offering additional evidence, that the company “installed similar tracking devices on other vehicles of multiple other prominent community members.”
She is seeking restitution for invasion of privacy, trespassing, civil conspiracy and negligence, as well as attorney’s costs. She also is seeking to know who hired the investigator.
“The tracking and surveillance of Schieve caused her, as it would cause any reasonable person, significant fear and distress,” the complaint reads.
Schieve told the Gazette Journal last month that learning of the tracking device had caused her severe stress. “This kind of invasion of privacy and stalking is incredibly alarming because I don’t know what the intent is for this information,” she said. “I mean, does someone want to kill me? I don’t know,” she said.
To note, the Sparks police department found no evidence of stalking as McNeely worked within the confines of the law.
In a statement released after the civil lawsuit was filed, lead attorney Adam Hosmer-Henner with McDonald Carano said the complaint is based on an “outrageous” invasion of privacy.
“We will aggressively seek to determine who hired the private investigators and will be amending our complaint to assert claims against them as well,” Hosmer-Henner said
The Globe reported that subsequent subpoenas were granted last Friday by Judge Hardy, after Schieve’s lawyers petitioned the court ex parté, which in layman’s terms means that her lawyers solely petitioned Judge Hardy to grant a subpoena for McNeely’s client records. Lawyers tell The Globe that approval of subpoenas prior to serving the defendant a lawsuit is “abnormal.”
Schieve and her lawyers are seemingly filing a civil suit to uncover the identity of McNeely’s client(s). Hiring a private investigator is legal in Nevada and the steps taken by McNeely during his investigation were also legal. The question of who placed the device is of obvious importance to Mayor Schieve and her legal team. However, another question left unanswered is what were the allegations against Schieve to warrant a private investigation?
Should this case proceed, that question, and others, will be of public interest and uncovered through discovery.
This is a developing story.
Watch the full police interview of Mayor Schieve HERE.
Editor’s note: The Globe tried reaching the Attorney General’s office for comment but due to “extremely high call volume” we were forced to leave a message. We will update the story with their response if our call is returned.
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