Ex-lawmaker gets probation for misusing campaign money, skirting residency requirements
Former Assemblyman Alex Assefa was sentenced Thursday to three years of probation for more than a dozen charges of lying about his residency and misusing thousands of dollars campaign funds, including counts of felony theft.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported the details of Assefa’s sentencing in Clark County District Court.
After winning re-election in 2020, Assefa resigned the following January — just weeks before the start of the 2021 legislative session — alleging he was “mistaken” about the state’s residency requirements to run for legislative office. But a report from the Review-Journal showed police were investigating Assefa, including seizing bank and campaign finance records, as early as October 2020.
He was later indicted on 14 charges that March. By April 2022, Assefa, a Democrat, pleaded not guilty during an initial hearing, before later pleading no contest on the theft and residency charges last November.
Grand jury documents unsealed last year alleged Assefa continued to maintain a residence in North Las Vegas while representing his Spring Valley-area district in southwest Las Vegas. They also alleged Assefa pocketed thousands of dollars of campaign contributions for business or personal use, often during events tied to the city’s Ethiopian community (Assefa is a former refugee from Ethiopia).
According to the Review-Journal, Assefa was offered probation because of his lack of prior criminal history and the nonviolent nature of the crimes. The newspaper also reported that county prosecutors had asked for a “significant penalty” of four to 10 years in prison if Assefa violated the terms of his probation.
A spokesperson for the court told The Nevada Independent Friday that Assefa was sentenced on two counts — including three to eight years suspended probation on the first and 364 days suspended probation on the second, with both sentences running concurrently.
Judge Joe Hardy, who issued the sentence, also ordered Assefa not to handle any campaign funds while on probation.
Update: 3/24/23 at 8:55 a.m. — This story was updated to include details on Assefa's probation provided by a Clark County District Court spokesperson.