Jeff German spent 40 years in journalism, breaking major stories about the mafia, political corruption, and crime in Las Vegas, Nevada. Because he had covered such topics for four decades without incident, no one – especially not German – could possibly believe that him looking into a little-known city official might lead to his death.
In the spring of 2022, German met with sources who told him about possible issues in the office of the public administrator, The New York Times reported. In May, German published a story in which current and former employees of Clark County public administrator Robert Telles accused him of being a bad boss, giving unreasonable assignments, and not allowing them to use their phones. Telles was also accused of having an “inappropriate relationship” with an employee named Roberta Lee-Kennet. As proof, German was provided with footage showing Telles and Lee-Kennet meeting in the backseat of a vehicle. Both are married.
Telles denied that anything was happening between he and Lee-Kennet, saying they were friends and claiming the accusations were coming from disgruntled “old-timers.”
“They are unhappy with the way the office has been taken out of their control,” he said at the time. “All my new employees are super-happy and everyone’s productive and doing well. We’ve almost doubled the productivity in the office.”
It wasn’t a major story like German’s past work, including his book about the 1998 murder of casino boss Ted Binion, called “Murder In Sin City: The Death of a Las Vegas Casino Boss,” but the article German published about Telles did possibly result in the public administrator losing his primary election in June.
The story German published in May focused on the “hostile environment” Telles allegedly created in his office, a hot topic in the #MeToo era, but far from the glitzy blockbusters of mafia crimes and political corruption in one of America’s most famous cities.
So, the country was shocked on September 3, 2022, when German, 69, was found stabbed to death outside his home.
Within days of his apparent murder, police zeroed in on a suspect: Robert Telles.
Just four days after German was found dead, police executed a search warrant on Telles’ home, with police telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal the search was in connection to an altercation German had with a man on the day he died.
A day after police searched Telles’ home, they announced that the politician’s DNA had been found at the crime scene where German was stabbed to death.
Telles’ DNA had been found under German’s fingernails, and surveillance footage linked Telles to the murder, police said in their criminal complaint against the politician.
Less than two weeks after German’s death, Telles was charged with murdering the investigative journalist. The arresting complaint, reviewed by CNN, alleged that Telles had been “lying in wait” for German before stabbing the journalist’s body “multiple times” in what was described as a “willful, deliberate and premeditated” attack.
This is not the first time that Telles has been in trouble with the law. In March 2020, Telles was arrested on domestic violence charges and resisting arrest. The domestic violence charge was dismissed months later. The arrest came while Telles was the Clark County public administrator. He had allegedly threatened a family member to the point that two other family members barricaded themselves inside a room to get away from him.
During his arrest, Telles repeatedly asked “Who did I hit?” and suggested his arrest was due to his position.
“Cameras, cameras, can anybody tell me who I did? Who the hell did I hit?” Telles said in a body camera video released by KLAS. “This is like totally, you guys just want to take me down because I’m a public official. I didn’t hit anybody. I didn’t touch anybody.”
It is not often that journalists are murdered in America for their work, but German is not the first. The most memorable murders of journalists in recent memory include the June 28, 2018, mass shooting at the Capital Gazette office in Annapolis, Maryland and the 2015 murders of WDBJ 7 reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward, who were shot and killed live on air by a former colleague.