Undercurrent

Tobiasson dies by suicide, says coroner

By: - January 23, 2023 9:33 am
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Melanie Tobiasson testifying in a Judicial Disciplinary Commission hearing in December 2019. (Nevada Current file photo)

Former Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson took her own life Friday according to the Clark County Coroner, less than two years after she resigned from the bench following efforts by then-Clark County Sheriff and now Gov. Joe Lombardo to have her removed from hearing criminal cases. 

In 2018, Tobiasson publicly accused Las Vegas Metropolitan Police of ignoring tips she gave them regarding Shane Valentine, a man she said was trying to recruit her daughter and the children of other law enforcement officials into prostitution in an attempt to gain influence over police and the judiciary. 

Valentine was also the roommate of Morgan Fitzpatrick, the daughter of Judge Michelle Leavitt. 

Metro police named Valentine, a convicted felon, as a suspect in the still unsolved 2016 execution-style murders of 21-year-old Sydney Land and 20-year-old Nehemiah Kauffman. Kauffman, according to a text message presented as evidence to a grand jury, accused Valentine of being a police informant just days before the murders. 

Lombardo told the Current last year that Metro lacked the evidence to arrest Valentine. 

In April 2018, Tobiasson went public with her concerns that Metro was ignoring the information she passed on to detectives, and incurred the wrath of Lombardo and Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, who unsuccessfully attempted to have her removed from hearing a criminal court docket. 

A handful of complaints to the Judicial Discipline Commission followed, including one from Connie Land, the mother of murder victim Sydney Land, alleging Tobiasson, given Metro’s failure to make an arrest, conducted her own investigation of the murder. Connie Land died by suicide last year, shortly before the sixth anniversary of her daughter’s murder.  

In 2021, Tobiasson agreed to step down rather than face allegations she said were “designed to humiliate” her. She told the Current that Lombardo and Wolfson negotiated her resignation. The two declined to comment.  

Tobiasson, a former prosecutor, was appointed to the bench in 2009 and most recently won re-election in 2018. 

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8.

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.

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