The preliminary hearing in Meadow Valley Justice Court for Ken Higbee of Alamo concluded June 2 after four days of testimony without the defense making a case or calling any witnesses.
Defense attorney Brett Whipple of Las Vegas, said, “After hearing the prosecution’s case during the week, we did not feel they had presented enough evidence to go to trial, and if the judge decides to go to trial, we’ll challenge the evidence and witnesses at the district court level.”
Meadow Valley Justice Court Judge Mike Cowley is now reviewing the evidence and will determine what, if any, should be passed on to the 7th Judicial District Court.
Whipple had earlier speculated it likely would go to trial, “99 percent of the time they do,” he said, but wouldn’t speculate what Cowley might do now.
District Attorney Daniel Hooge said he had scheduled two weeks for the hearing, which began May 30, and was surprised the defense decided to wait.
Hooge said he called 18-20 witnesses in his phase of the hearing.
Higbee, currently on suspension as principal at C.O. Bastian High School at the Caliente Youth Center, was charged in April with a 225-count criminal complaint citing he stole about $122,000 from the Lincoln County School District, involving dozens of counts of forgery and misconduct, plus one felony theft charge.
Whipple said during the hearing. “It was very clear that Higbee did not personally benefit from matters and it appears the entire community of Lincoln County and the school district has benefited from the C.O. Bastian funds in question, at some time or another in a variety of ways.”
Records indicate the complaints cover a period from January 2012 to December 2015.
Earlier published reports stated the Nevada Department of Public Safety said, “The embezzled funds were used to purchase a variety of items, including, but not limited to, sports equipment, sporting good items, sports clothing and shoes, tools, welding equipment, household items, electronics, and various other items, including some that were for personal use.”
Whipple maintains that Higbee “never put a dime in his own pocket. Everything he did was not for him personally but for the community, involving all of Lincoln County, the school district, even the gymnasiums. I don’t know anybody that is not now, or hasn’t at some time, benefited to some degree.”
He said Lincoln County is full of many “people who give back to help other people. This is a lifestyle we have pursued for decades.” He cited the coaches around the county “who give thousands of hours of time, for only a small remittance, if any.”