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Anonymous ‘John Doe’ denies authorizing private investigator to track mayor, county commissioner

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The anonymous person who hired private investigator David McNeely of Five Alpha Industries on Friday signed an affidavit denying knowledge of McNeely’s GPS tracking of former Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung and Mayor Hillary.

The filing was part of a motion for summary judgment in the case filed by attorneys Jeffrey Barr and Alina Shell of the Armstrong Teasdale firm in Las Vegas. 

It is the first public response by the person who hired McNeely.

The motion came a day after District Court Judge David Hardy ordered McNeely to identify his client by May 12, 2023.

“With this meritless suit, Plaintiffs seek solely to punish John Doe for his constitutionally protected conduct and chill future citizen-led investigations into public officials’ malfeasance. The Court should not countenance this,” Doe’s attorneys wrote.

Doe said he was tipped off to what they believed were “credible allegations” about Schieve and Hartung alleging misconduct. The anonymity was “to avoid any potential liability for defamation or libel if those allegations turned out to be untrue…

“When I hired Mr. McNeely and 5 Alpha Industries, Mr. McNeely assured me that my identity would remain confidential and my name would not be implicated in the investigation,” Doe said. “I did not ask or authorize Mr. McNeely and/or 5 Alpha Industries to place a tracking device on Mayor Schieve’s vehicle, nor did I ask or authorize them to place a tracking device on Mr. Hartung’s vehicle.”

Doe said he had no access to the tracking information. His attorneys added that, because there is no evidence of intrusion, privacy violations or law breaking by Doe, the allegations against him should be dismissed.

“This is a case where a private citizen lawfully retained the services of a licensed investigator after receiving credible information that Schieve and/or Hartung had engaged in misconduct that would be of extreme interest to the general public, and then the investigator used tracking devices to aid in the investigation of possible malfeasance by these elected officials,” attorneys wrote. 

“Plaintiffs have provided no evidence that John Doe disclosed any facts about them, much less ‘private facts,’” they added.

Doe in the sworn statement said he is a Washoe County resident.

“My name is not John Doe; I am using this pseudonym because I would like to remain anonymous,” he wrote. 

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
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 in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.

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