I-TEAM: Las Vegas judge formally accused of abusing her power, improper conduct


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas judge has been formally accused of improper conduct and using her power on the bench inappropriately.

This is a story the I-Team has been following.

Judge Melanie Tobiasson is accused of abusing her power, letting family issues influence her conduct and judgment, and failing to disqualify herself when there may have been a conflict of interest on the bench.

She faces eight counts from the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline in this formal statement of charges. While charges from the commission won’t land her in jail, they could get the judge kicked off the bench. 

In 2018, Judge Tobiasson shared her story with the I-Team.

 “I would lose my job over this. I would lose my freedom over this.  I would lose my life over this,” Judge Tobiasson said. 

She said she was trying to save her teenaged daughter from sex trafficking.

In 2015, her daughter started working at a now closed store in Chinatown. According to the commission, Judge Tobiasson believed Shane Valentine, a violent felon, was running a prostitution ring out of the place and she staked it out.

“I spent hours,” Judge Tobiasson said. “I mean I would go, I would watch, I would get license plate numbers, I would get makes and models of cars, I would follow people, I would get information about where they would go, where they lived, where they… you know, I never used inappropriate means to get information. I did it all myself.”

In 2016, Sydney Land and Nehemian Kauffman were murdered.

According to the commission, Judge Tobiasson stated she believed Valentine committed the murders and she connected with Sydney Land’s mother with burner phones. 

Her code name: “Master of Puppets”

The commission states Tobiasson also connected with a woman she believed was involved in the murder.

Once Metro believed the judge was interfering with the investigation, Metro started tracking her phones. 

According to the department, police learned she had more than 1,000 communications over five months with organized crime figure, Anthony Danna, who she had previously dismissed charges against in her courtroom. Police say she also later communicated with him while he was a fugitive.

During her interview with the I-Team, Judge Tobiasson admitted, at times, she turned to pimps and prostitutes for information instead of police.

“The problem is I don’t think we’re in danger from the pimps anymore,” Judge Tobiasson said. “I’m more afraid of the vice detectives and those who are trying to cover this up.  That’s what I’m afraid of now.”

Attorney Dominic Gentile says he is representing Judge Tobiasson and declined to provide a statement.  

The next step is a public hearing with the commission.

After that initial interview with Judge Tobiasson in 2018, Metro Police responded with a statement. One of the judge’s concerns was the Vice Unit protecting pimps, which was investigated by the FBI.

Sheriff Joe Lombardo has insisted the Vice Unit has been cleaned up.

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