- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A former Nevada police chief is on the hook to pay damages to a lawyer he sued after being accused of illegally directing officers to delete emails about preparations for a June 2012 visit by a biker club.

Attorney Stephen Stubbs on Tuesday claimed vindication in a Clark County District Court order requiring former Boulder City Police Chief Thomas Finn to pay Stubbs $10,000 in punitive damages, plus court costs and attorney fees that Stubbs estimated total about $50,000.

“He abused his authority as police chief, and he maliciously filed a lawsuit against me,” Stubbs said.

Finn’s attorney, Sean Flanagan, said he’s reviewing the ruling, issued July 30 by Clark County District Court Judge Pro Tempore Barbara Johnston.

Finn said he intends to appeal what he called an “outrageous and bizarre” order by a temporary judge who he said disregarded a previous arbitrator’s decision and prior rulings by other judges.

The case stems from a lawsuit that Finn filed in 2012 against Stubbs, but that District Court Judge Jessie Walsh dismissed months later as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or SLAPP, case.

Walsh ruled that Finn was trying to muzzle Stubbs, a vocal and persistent critic of police conduct involving motorcyclists and biker club members.

Stubbs had obtained and made public a June 2012 email from Finn telling Boulder City police officers days before of the Mongols biker club event to “please delete all emails related to the event immediately.”

“If they submit a records request,” the email said, “it would obviously show our hand and divulge the strategies and staffing levels we need to keep confidential.”

A Nevada state attorney general’s office investigation led the city attorney to tell City Council members in November 2012 that Finn may have violated state public records law.

Finn was dismissed in April 2013 after seven years as the city’s top cop. He issued a statement at that time saying he had refused to resign.

Johnston held a bench trial in July and pointed to findings that Finn improperly obtained from a former Stubbs employee a computer containing confidential law files and tax records, and sent to federal and state authorities unfounded accusations that Stubbs was involved in money laundering and fraud.

“Finn was acting with outrageous conduct, with conscious disregard of the impact on Stubbs,” Johnston wrote. “Most assuredly, these disclosures to the IRS, the FBI (and) the Nevada State Bar were oppressive and despicable conduct.”

Finn said Tuesday the attorney general’s report cleared him and he was never charged with a crime. He insisted the computer wasn’t stolen, and he said it is still in the hands of the FBI.

“What’s despicable is a judge pro tem failing to follow the law and ruling two years after the issue,” Finn said.

Stubbs represents multiple motorcycle clubs including the Mongols in a federal police-harassment lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas. That case was filed a day after Mongols national leaders met in Boulder City.

The court win in the Finn case was the second this year for Stubbs, who was acquitted in March in Las Vegas Justice Court on an unrelated misdemeanor obstruction charge.

That case stemmed from Stubbs’ arrest in November 2013 during a dispute with a Las Vegas police officer who Stubbs accused of preventing him from intervening to represent a Bikers for Christ member being questioned on a traffic violation outside a motorcycle ministry meeting.

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