“This is the type of thing that makes our judicial system look like a joke.”

Judge Montero was not a man of few words on the afternoon of May 18 as he addressed his courtroom full of officials from the Division of Parole and Probation and the District Attorney’s office.

Montero spent 30 minutes recounting the details of the State of Nevada vs. Teresa Gravelle case, an embezzlement case that first appeared in front of Judge Richard Wagner for a judgement of conviction on August 19, 2014.

After pleading guilty to embezzlement, Gravelle was convicted to 60 months probation and restitution paid in the amount of $65,000. The restitution was to be paid according to the following terms: an initial payment of $30,000 within 90 days of the conviction and monthly payments of no less than $1,500 paid through the district attorney’s office thereafter. 

In reviewing the case to the courtroom, Judge Montero emphasized the specific language in which the conviction was articulated, highlighting that failure to abide by the above terms would be a violation of probation.

The case was not short of complications as court dates spanned from 2012 to 2020 and involved multiple representatives from the District Attorney’s Office and the Division of Parole and Probation. The case file itself is about 3 inches thick and details the various court memos, communication between departments, and documentation surrounding the case.

On Dec.  10 2014, just three short months after the initial conviction, the Division of Parole and Probation filed a violation report for failure to pay. By that time, Gravelle had failed to pay the $30,000 within 90 days of her granted probation.

Complications increased as Gravelle’s account attempted to resolve a portion of the restitution through a transfer of land to the victim, Steve Lucas of Lucas Livestock, in 2014. 

There was nothing in the case file for the next three years preceding this transfer of land until Dec. 18, 2017 when the Division of Parole and Probation petitioned for Gravelle to be “honorably discharged” for “satisfactory completion of all conditions of probations.”

At this time in 2017 the judicial system had been realigned, Judge Wagner had retired, and the petition fell upon the desk of Judge Montero who openly admitted he had little knowledge of the case. 

Judge Montero’s staff followed procedure and reviewed the official case management software. No outstanding fees, fines, or restitution were found and the honorable discharge of Gravelle was granted.

Fast forward four short months later to April 4, 2018, and a Civil Confession of Judgement was filed claiming Gravelle owed Lucas Livestock $22,700. At the procedure hearing for the judgement, the victim’s counsel admitted a letter into evidence laying out procedural history with DA and Parole to collect unpaid balance.

“When I saw that letter, I felt like I had been duped. I had been misled by a standard form of honorable discharge order,” Judge Montero said at the May 21 hearing. “I would welcome any of you to sit in this seat and know what it feels like when someone who appears before you regularly — and I’m not just saying one, it was multiples — who have not completely represented the case. I actually think we have some ethical canons on this issue. And I was offended. I still am today.” 

So where does this case stand today? And why has it taken so long to find answers to the clear lack of judicial process that occurred? 

As it stands, Judge Montero vacated the honorable discharge he originally filed. The logs of restitution payments show the last payment of any kind was made in October 2016 in the amount of $100, far below the court ordered $1,500 per month payment. In fact, these same logs record that only five payments were congruent with the $1500 per month order in the time between 2014- 2017.

“It just boggles my mind that anyone that is looking at those restitution payments could — with all candor to the court — say that’s in compliance with the terms of probation. It is incomprehensible to me that we have had this significant breakdown on one case.” Judge Montero said.

Addressing Gravelle directly, Judge Montero said, “Ms. Gravelle, I don’t know how you sleep at night, smugly thumbing your nose at this process of not paying.”

The judge — just as much as the victim of this case — was seeking answers. Unfortunately, the courtroom fell silent. No one offered an explanation or at the very least an apology at how this case unfolded. Not Gravelle, the DA’s office, or the Division of Parole and Probation — all of whom Judge Montero held responsible.

“We have had a monumental breakdown in our system,” he said. “And I don’t think I need to say it again, but I am troubled by this. I am offended by this. This sends a message to our community that this system doesn’t work. We have enough going on in our world today that is critical of the judicial system and our system of government as it is. I don’t want to be at the epicenter of that.”

Judge Montero left the court with these final remarks: “If I had the ability to hold some people in contempt, Sgt. Waters, your office would be on that list. If I had the ability to hold some people in contempt, I think the DA’s office would be on that list. And Ms. Gravelle, I would just flat out put you in prison. Thank you. This case is dismissed.”

When asked to comment on the case, John Doyle, counsel for Lucas Livestock, gave the following statement: “I was prepared to address the court and would have covered every single point that he [Judge Montero] covered. We’re disappointed. The system, the district attorney's office, the department of parole and probation completely dropped the ball on this case. So, in this case maybe crime did pay.”