LAS VEGAS – Three former executives of the tax-funded tourism agency responsible for promoting Sin City have been charged with stealing and misusing $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards.
Rossi Ralenkotter, 72, former CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, stands charged with theft and misconduct of a public officer, according to a seven-count criminal complaint Nevada prosecutors filed in Las Vegas.
The charges come more than a year after a Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation revealed a LVCVA executive bought the gift cards in secret.
Ralenkotter used $15,920 in cards for dozens of personal trips for himself and his family, according to the complaint. The former tourism executive has apologized for the action and paid the amount back to the agency.
The USA TODAY Network could not reach Ralenkotter for comment.
Ralenkotter appeared in Las Vegas Justice Court to face the charges to avoid an arrest warrant, according to the Review-Journal. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Harmony Letizia set a status hearing for Sept. 25.
Read the full complaint here:
Cathy Tull, 52, the LVCVA’s former chief marketing officer, also stands charged with theft and misconduct. She used $5,996 in Southwest gift cards for herself and her family, the complaint said
Brig Lawson, the tourism agency’s former senior director of business partnerships, faces charges of theft, forgery and unlawful use of public money.
Lawson allegedly instructed airline employees to send invoices to the authority without mentioning the purchases were for the cards.
Lawson had purchased 612 cards with values at $50, $100 and $200 between 2012 and 2017. In total, the complaint said, he provided $90,000 in gift cards.
The complaint alleges Eric Woodson, a 54-year-old Southwest Airlines marketing executive based in Dallas, gave the gift cards to the LVCVA for personal use. He stands charged with theft and forgery.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here.