Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center developer, Storey County Commissioner and brothel owner Lance Gilman could be sanctioned and held in contempt of court in two weeks.
Storey County First Judicial District Court Judge James Wilson on Wednesday ordered Gilman to appear in court July 16 at 9 a.m. to face the possible charges. Jail time could be possible.
It’s for the case where Gilman sued Storey County journalist Sam Toll, lost and now owes Toll and his attorney more than $200,000 in damages. A motion has been filed to get the attorney fees to the Nevada Supreme Court.
A so-called SLAPP-back case has also been filed in the Storey County court by Toll against Gilman for additional damages after Gilman lost his defamation case in state court.
“This Court’s May 27, 2021 Order directed Gilman to respond to Plaintiff Sam Toll’s March 17, 2021 Interrogatories,” Wilson wrote Wednesday. “The record before the Court indicates that Gilman has failed to comply with the Court’s Order by providing any responses to the Interrogatories.”
Gilman’s attorney, Gus Flangas, is alleged to have refused to respond to Judge Wilson. Flangas did not respond to a message prior to publication.
Wilson’s two-page order comes after Toll’s attorney Luke Busby also accused Gilman in state court of dragging his feet in paying the damages to Toll. Gilman appealed, seeking to avoid paying damages.
Toll had alleged on his Storey Teller website that Gilman did not actually live in Storey County but instead spent most of his time at his Washoe County residence. That would preclude him from serving as Storey County commissioner.
Gilman in turn sued him for defamation.
State criminal investigators agreed with Toll’s claim and recommended Gilman be prosecuted for perjury — however, three local district attorneys, as first reported by This Is Reno, each declined to pursue the case. Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro pushed state investigators to review the evidence in that case, which was closed in early 2020 after prosecutors refused to prosecute.
Gilman lost his defamation case after it was appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court. Toll prevailed in state court under Nevada Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) statutes, which grants damages to defendants of defamation claims if the defamation claims cannot be proved by plaintiffs.
“The Nevada anti-SLAPP law gives defendants the ability to file a motion to dismiss claims based on the good faith exercise of this right of petition or free speech,” the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press explains. “The court will award attorney’s fees and costs and may award up to $10,000 in additional damages to a SLAPP defendant who prevails on a motion to dismiss.”
Recent Supreme Court documents show its judges agreed with Busby about Gilman’s recalcitrance.
“Counsel (Flangas) for appellant (Gilman) is admonished for failing to comply with this court’s rules and orders,” three state judges wrote in May. “Failure to timely comply with this order will result in the imposition of sanctions, including monetary sanctions against counsel for appellant and/or dismissal of the appeal.”
Flangas issued a brief to the Supreme Court May 27. He continued to allege defamation.
“Plaintiff (Gilman) still asserts the Court abused its discretion in awarding [damages],” Flangas wrote.
Busby shot back on June 4 that, “Gilman certified under penalty pursuant to law to Washoe County tax officials that his primary residence was located in Washoe County. Gilman continued to rely on his claimed Washoe County residency to collect a lower tax rate at the time he filed this litigation, claiming Toll defamed him for stating the same thing: that Gilman’s primary residence was not in Storey County.
“Gilman cannot be defamed by a statement that reflects his own representation, signed under oath, to a public agency,” he added. “Journalists should not be afraid to report the truth about powerful and well-connected public figures for fear of being bankrupted by a lawsuit.”
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor, and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.