LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- The capture of one of the FBI’s most wanted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was a coup for Nevada’s Highway Patrol.
But the man who put the handcuffs on Jeffs that night in 2006 says the story told to the rest of the world was a lie. Dana Gentry has an exclusive report on the arrest.
That lie has gone unchecked for seven years.
Now for the first time, News 3 has the real story of Jeffs' arrest that led to the downfall of one of the state's top cops who has generated millions of dollars for the state from seizures of drugs and cash.
When it comes to sniffing out drugs and cash on Nevada’s highways, few cops compare to Eddie Dutchover.
As a Nevada Highway Patrolman, and member of a high profile drug interdiction task force, Dutchover had a nose for contraband -- meth, cocaine, weed or ill-gotten gains -- he nabbed it.
And, he's the trooper who pulled over then-fugitive and polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.
"I will never forget the look on his face. You know, and him making eye contact with me," Dutchover said in interviews.
Retired trooper Rosell Owens worked with Dutchover on that drug task force. “He was a hard worker and he had skills,” Owens said.
But, Owens says, on that night in August 2006, thanks to Dutchover, the bad guy almost got away.
“He never tried to secure the guy. Never had his weapon out and didn't seem to be concerned about anything but searching the vehicle for narcotics,” Owens said. “He had no idea Warren Jeffs was there in his presence.”
Owens said Dutchover told him the system was down.
“Later on we found out he did not have access to that data base. He was not telling the truth,” Owens said.
Owens says he was the who noticed the driver's last name was Jeffs.
“I walked over to the older guy who was squatted on the ground, I said to him ‘I bet your tired of running’ and I put my cuffs on him,” Owens said.
However, Dutchover took the credit for the arrest.
“The story just grew through all types of media coverage and interviews but the bottom line was it was not truthful,” Owens said. “He wrote reports that had to be rewritten because they didn't jive with my reports.”
Owens shared his concern all the way up the chain of command.
“I was disappointed the department would not act on something I told them,” Owens said. “It's very difficult to cross the line and inform on your team members and people you worked with.”
But soon Owens and his colleagues learned why Dutchover had failed to run Jeffs in the national database.
Dutchover’s access had been denied. This was the result of Dutchover's own effort to smuggle drugs into the United States.
An event he failed to disclose on his application with the highway patrol. It was a revelation that forced the highway patrol to fire him but Dutchover has since appealed.
“He admitted he knew the steroids were illegal in the United States. Which is why he hid them up under the dashboard,” said state Deputy Attorney General Kimberly Buchanan.
Even Dutchover's colleagues testified his tactics on the road drew suspicions. Noting his propensity to make after hour stops which was a practice that raised "integrity issues."
“People had knowledge of his wrongdoing; people had knowledge of his unethical practices. They ignored it,” Owens said. They ignored it until they wanted to fire him.”
Dutchover's attorney, Adam Levine, declined to be interviewed for this story. He maintains Dutchover did not remember being stopped at the border when he filled out his job application with the highway patrol.
Dutchover is appealing his termination to the state supreme court. But he is still a cop and performing the same job of patrolling the I-15 and looking for drugs. News 3 will have more on that and his involvement in a fatal shooting on Tuesday.