Las Vegas area water manager reassigned over previous crime

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A water department manager at a Las Vegas suburb has been reassigned as officials investigate a complaint about the man who years ago had admitted to making his son’s football team sick for revenge.

North Las Vegas said it reassigned longtime employee Jerome M. Breland to the sewer department from his interim utilities operations manager position, pending the outcome of a complaint sent to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

The 55-year-old water department supervisor and the state department could not immediately be reached for comment.

Assistant City Manager Ryann Juden said city and state officials received an email Aug. 6 alleging that Breland didn’t disclose a 2001 conviction for reckless endangerment on his Nevada Drinking Water Distribution and Treatment Operators license application. The complaint was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The city looked into the allegations and found that Breland had recently been granted an upgraded license by the state. The state was still doing its preliminary investigation and had not contacted Breland or the city until Wednesday, when Breland was reassigned, Juden said.

Juden also said water quality has not been impaired and Breland has no history of disciplinary action.

“He’s been reassigned today, just to assure people that we take it seriously and our employees take it seriously,” Juden said.

The conviction stems from a November 2000 incident, when Breland’s son came to a Little League football practice at a Las Vegas park with a bottle of juice laced with Ipecac syrup. The drug induces vomiting and was once commonly used on children who accidentally ingested poison and also by bulimics. The medical community has since advised against its use.

Breland had instructed his son, who was 12 years old, not to drink from it but at least seven children who did become sick were sent to the emergency room. The man said he polluted the drink in vengeance because his son was being bullied on the team. He said he notified the coach but the kids were still taking his son’s water bottle.

In court, one of the victims said at the time that the incident ruined their championship game because of the criminal investigation and media attention. A victim’s parent testified of the psychological harm done, saying his son was afraid to drink and cried at the thought of participating in another sport, according to Clark County court transcripts. Another team parent said their son, who did not get sick, could have died had he taken a drink, given his asthma.

Breland pleaded guilty to the gross misdemeanor, telling the court that he was sorry for his “cowardly act.” The utilities manager of North Las Vegas attested to his character and Breland was sentenced to three years of probation, monthly community service and restitution for the victims’ medical bills. He also agreed to family counseling and his probation was successfully completed in 2004.

North Las Vegas said Breland has worked for the city since 1992 and makes a salary of $98,729.

Breland was also sued by some of the parents in civil court, which resulted in thousands of dollars in settlements.

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