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Taxicab Authority investigator accused of illegally recording phone call

Attempted whistleblower charged with recording telephone call without consent

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Updated: 2/19 5:25 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Joseph Morgan, an investigator at the Taxicab Authority, recorded and emailed a private conversation between his boss, Ruben Aquino, chief investigator of the authority, and colleague Antoine Rivers, another investigator.

Morgan says the conversation shows favoritism, inappropriate sharing of confidential information, and fabrication of numbers, but Morgan is now the one facing charges.

The attorney general's office is charging Morgan with one count of interception of wire communication and one count of surreptitious intrusion of privacy by listening device. According to the criminal complaint, Morgan is accused of recording a telephone call without consent of all parties on Dec. 11, 2012.

Morgan called Aquino, who told the Clark County Grand Jury he either accidently answered the phone or spoke to Morgan briefly and forgot to hang up. Dave Braxton at Dog and Pony Show, who cleaned up the audio, says Morgan admitted to recording the conversation with another cell phone.

An email addressed to Gov. Brian Sandoval, sent from a friend of Morgan's wife with a copy of that recording, is part of the evidence. It suggests the Taxicab Authority is in the pockets of the cab companies it regulates.

"During the recording: Investigator Rivers states we are governed by the Department of Business and Industry, but we oversee the cab owners and certificate owners who oversee our day to day operations, which Chief Aquino appears to acknowledge," the email states. "How is a police agency able to do their jobs without discretion of the industry and regulate is also the industry that controls the agency?"

The email also says the conversation shows Investigator Rivers had an unfair advantage in a promotion by the chief, saying "I showed you the money ... Show me the money."

The email also alleges that the numbers used to win “agency of the year” by Business and Industry were "pure fabrication."

The final point attacks Aquino's leadership.

"This is just another example of Aquino breeding discord among employees ... Chief Aquino cannot maintain a professional work environment," the message says.

The end of the email asks the governor to "take action to correct this misconduct and illegal actions."

According to the affidavit, Aquino said he did not have the 37-minute recorded phone conversation because Morgan was on administrative leave for a prior incident, and he wouldn't have talked to him without his representative present.

According to court paperwork, Investigator James Dudley, who also was involved, said he contacted an attorney who told him the recording of the call was legal because no one hung up the phone. Dudley has not been criminally been “criminally charged,” according to the attorney general’s office.

Another Investigator, Michael Kelly, told the grand jury Morgan felt it was inappropriate for the chief to discuss his pending internal investigation with one of his colleagues and that's partly why he was going to turn in the recording.

News 3 contacted the Taxicab Authority to determine the current status of Morgan's employment and the state of the internal investigation, but spokesperson Teri Williams, with the Department of Business and Industry, replied that she is not authorized to comment on internal personnel matters or employee statuses.

The attorney general’s office would neither confirm nor deny that the information in the recorded conversation may have prompted further investigation.

Read the transcript of the recording here [WARNING: Foul Language]

Read email to Governor Sandoval here
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