Nevada Legislative Lobbyist Found to Be Convicted Felon

By Michael Klazema on 8/21/2012

A lobbyist for the Nevada Catholic Conference in the state legislature has resigned after an investigation began looking into allegations that he has a felony conviction and is currently on probation. Registered lobbyist John Cracchiolo has represented Catholic bishops since he was hired in 2007. A background check performed at the time of his hire failed to reveal his felony conviction, which was handed out earlier in the year. Cracchiolo and his business partner were indicted on 27 counts, including securities and wire fraud, and falsifying financial records. The pair’s company, Endocare Inc., made a device that treated cancerous tumors. They were accused of fake sales and running an investment scheme that resulted in investors losing over $200 million.

According to Brother Matthew Cunningham, who is chancellor for the Diocese of Reno, even though they performed a background check on Cracchiolo, “nothing was ever said about the conviction.” Cracchiolo ended up pleading guilty to one felony count, and was sentenced to three years of probation. He was also ordered to pay over $120,000 in penalties and interest, and forbidden from working as an officer or acting as a manager for any publicly held company.

Nevada State Senator David Parks, Legislative Committee on Operations and Elections chairman, stated he was unaware that those with criminal histories are allowed to work at the Nevada Legislature as lobbyists. Parks said he believes lobbyists should at least be required to disclose a criminal background when they register, and he would bring awareness to the issue at the next meeting of his committee. The District of Columbia and at least ten states have some kind of requirement limiting the ability of someone to register or act as a lobbyist if they have a criminal conviction. According to the director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, Rick Combs, his agency is not authorized under the laws of Nevada to require lobbyists to disclose their criminal history or undergo background checks. Combs said that the trustworthiness of a lobbyist rests on those who employee them, and they “are not…employee[s] of the Legislature.” According to Cunningham, the dioceses began looking into Cracchiolo’s background several weeks ago after they were tipped off by a woman who was objecting to his lobbyist position.

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