LAS VEGAS (AP) — Police make an arrest while a criminal investigation continues into the misuse of Southwest Airlines gift cards bought by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Authorities reported Brig Lawson, the authority’s former director of business partnerships, was taken into custody.
He was booked on a felony theft charge and later released on a $10,000 bond, according to court records.
This comes as police executed a search warrant at the offices of the LVCVA as part of the investigation into misuse of airline gift cards.
The Review-Journal reports the police search Wednesday comes nine months after detectives visited the publicly funded agency to seize audit records that indicated staff took personal trips with the Southwest Airlines gift cards.
The audit last year found that agency hid the purchase of $90,000 in airline gift cards and did not properly track their use. Auditors also determined that more than $50,000 in cards were missing.
Authority CEO and President Steve Hill said in a statement that the agency is cooperating with all police requests, and they "look forward to a swift resolution of this matter."
UPDATE — In January 2021, Lawson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of violation of law by a public officer and agreed to pay a $500 fine.
And in November 2020, he was sanctioned by the Nevada Commission on Ethics and agreed to pay $13,881.36 for the improper acquisition and use of Southwest Airlines gift cards belonging to the LVCVA, the commission told Channel 13.
"The Commission hopes the severity of these sanctions will highlight the importance of the Ethics Law applicable to all public officers and employees and reflect the Commission’s commitment to the public to hold all public officers and employees accountable for conflicts between public duties and private interests," the ethics commission stated.
The full statement from the Nevada Commission on Ethics can be read here:
The Nevada Commission on Ethics has approved a Stipulated Agreement with Brig Lawson, former Director of Business Partnerships of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), finding a willful violation of the Nevada Ethics in Government Law for the misuse of government assets for a personal purpose.
Pursuant to the terms of the Stipulated Agreement, Lawson agrees to pay a $13,881.36 sanction for the improper acquisition and use of Southwest Airline Gift Cards belonging to the LVCVA for personal use.
The Commission views the misuse of government assets for a personal purpose as a significant violation of the public trust and has consistently imposed the maximum monetary penalties for such misconduct, including a maximum $5,000 sanction for the violation, plus twice the amount of any financial benefit realized from the misconduct. In this case, Lawson agrees to pay the $5,000 sanction plus twice the amount of gift cards he used for personal purposes in the amount of $8,881.36.
The Commission hopes the severity of these sanctions will highlight the importance of the Ethics Law applicable to all public officers and employees and reflect the Commission’s commitment to the public to hold all public officers and employees accountable for conflicts between public duties and private interests.
Chair Kim Wallin and Executive Director Yvonne Nevarez-Goodson encourage members of the public, including fellow public officers and employees, who may witness similar misconduct to file ethics complaints with the Commission for proper investigation and resolution.