LAS VEGAS

Las Vegas police are conducting a criminal investigation into the mishandling of funds by Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), according to reporting published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal article stated that police are looking into the handling of $90,000 worth of Southwest Airlines gift cards purchased by the LVCVA. An audit was ordered by the board’s audit committee chairman Bill Noonan after auditors could not account for more than $50,000 of the gift cards.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, on June 28, 2018, detectives with the police department’s criminal intelligence went to the convention authority’s offices to request records related that audit.

The audit found that the authority’s senior director of business partnerships Brig Lawson hid the gift card purchases. LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter used more than $16,000 in cards to take personal trips, while board member Lawrence Weekly also used about $700 in travel cards for a personal trip.

As reported previously in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Lawson said the gift card purchases were for promotional events with Southwest Airlines when requesting the funds. The audit showed that he did not disclose that the requests were for the gift cards directly, but rather for promotional activities.

Lawson told auditors he did not know that Ralenkotter had used the cards for personal travel, and auditors did not uncover evidence that Ralenkotter knew that Lawson had bought the cards with agency funds.

Lawson has since resigned and both Weekly and Ralenkotter reimbursed the authority for the cards they used. Ralenkotter is now considering retirement. It was reported that in June 2018, the LVCVA board tightened controls in response to the incident and no longer allows employee gift card use for personal travel.

[Related Content: Rossi Ralenkotter Plans Retirement Amid Gift Card Scandal]