LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German, one of Nevada’s most successful and trusted journalists, was found dead with stab wounds outside his home Saturday morning.
German, whose work in Las Vegas spanned more than three decades, has made a career of breaking big stories about everything from organized crime and government abuse to political scandals and the 2017 mass shooting at a concert.
“The Review-Journal family is devastated by the loss of Jeff,” said Executive Editor Glenn Cook. “He was the gold standard of the news business. It’s hard to imagine what Las Vegas would be like today without his many years of shining a light on dark places.”
Las Vegas police said Sunday morning that the homicide investigation is the department’s top priority.
“The LVMPD on Saturday entered its primary case protocol in the homicide investigation,” the department said. “This brings together various resources to maximize investigative efforts and apply a sense of urgency to the apprehension of the suspect.”
Police responded to the 7200 block of Bronze Circle, near North Tenaya Way, around 10:30 a.m. Saturday after a person called 911 that a neighbor was dead on the side of the victim’s house, according to Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Dori Coren .
Police found German outside his home with stab wounds. Police believe he was in an altercation with another man late Friday morning that led to his stabbing.
“We believe the altercation took place outside the home,” Coren said.
“We have some leads. We are pursuing a suspect, but the suspect is outstanding,” Koren said.
Koren said the stabbing is believed to be an isolated incident and that there is no threat to the public.
Cook said German did not report any concerns about his personal safety or any threats made against him to anyone in Review-Journal management.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said she was shocked to learn of German’s death.
“It was a senseless act of violence,” Goodman said. “The loss of life in this way is always shocking and must stop. We will be following the police investigation closely.”
He joined the Review-Journal in 2010
German, 69, joined the Review-Journal in 2010 after more than two decades at the Las Vegas Sun, where he was a columnist and reporter covering the courts, politics, labor, government and organized crime. Former Sun reporter and author Cathy Scott said on Sunday German had gone to great lengths to cover the city and its events.
She recalled how she and German were the first reporters to break the story of the 1997 slaying of Las Vegas mob associate Herbert “Fat Herbie” Blitzstein in Las Vegas. German, she said, covers a lot of organized crime stories.
“He was a tough news guy,” Scott said. “He worked hard and had tons of sources … a regular journalist. That’s who he was. He was dedicated to the craft.”
Jeff Schumacher is vice president of exhibitions and programs at The Mob Museum in Las Vegas. He worked with German at the Sun when German was the paper’s lead reporter under former Nevada governor and editor Mike O’Callaghan. Schumacher said German broke many exclusive stories and was “in the trenches” documenting organized crime in Las Vegas.
“Jeff was totally committed to his job as a reporter,” Schumacher said. “He wasn’t someone who was, ‘Maybe I’ll be a reporter for a while and then I’ll go do something else.'” He was a reporter probably from his birth until his death. The ink flowed very strongly in his veins.
“It didn’t surprise me even in this last part of his life, he was still a working reporter,” Schumacher said. “He loved digging for stories. He loved interviewing people. He liked to track down the facts. He obviously wanted to scoop up the competition and worked very hard to do so.
His investigative work has always been influential, with many of his stories leading to reforms or changes in personnel and policy.
In recent years, his reporting has exposed failures in city inspections before the deadly 2019 Alpine Motel Apartments fire; allegations of harassment, hostility and mismanagement in the Clark County Public Administrator’s office; and extremist activity in southern Nevada.
He broke the news that City Councilwoman Michele Fiore’s campaign finances had been audited by the FBI and reported that city officials had deleted surveillance video of an altercation with fellow Councilwoman Victoria Seaman, even though the Review-Journal demanded copies pursuant to the Nevada Public Records Act. German also teamed up with investigative reporter Art Kane to expose allegations of sexual harassment and lax oversight that have plagued the Clark County Coroner’s Office for years.
German wrote and hosted Season 2 of “Mobbed Up: The Fight for Vegas,” the Review-Journal’s acclaimed true crime podcast. The eight episodes from 2021 follow the rise and fall of organized crime through the prism of one unlikely witness: Wayne Newton.
The Aladdin Hotel and its ties to Detroit’s mob in the late 1970s were the focus of the audio project, a partnership between the Review-Journal and The Mob Museum downtown. German told the story through extensive interviews with prosecutors and elected officials, along with his memories of covering the mob in those days.
“He was able to restore the story of the Aladdin Hotel and everything that happened there in a very clear and concise way in this podcast in a way that would be difficult to follow if you just went back to the news articles,” Schumacher said, adding as a beat reporter decades earlier, German “was right in the middle of that Aladdin Hotel situation.”
German and other members of the Review-Journal’s investigative team conducted a yearlong, ongoing investigation of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority beginning in 2017. The reporters examined more than 32,000 pages of receipts from the authority’s top executives and wrote a story that revealed lavish purchases of high-end entertainment, employee gifts and first-class travel abroad for select employees who serve on the agency’s board.
Other stories revealed that congressional security officers were diverted from their jobs to drive key officials to events around town and that the agency gave away more than $125,000 worth of iPads, golf clubs and other expensive items with little or no accounting. In response to the stories, the convention body accepted an accounting firm’s recommendations to cut some expenses and limit gifts and travel to board members.
The stories prompted an audit that found thousands of dollars worth of Southwest Airlines gift cards had been misused by top executives. The audit led to criminal charges that were settled for several of the defendants in 2020, as well as executive removals, including the replacement of longtime CEO Rossi Rallenkotter.
Exclusive for mass shooting
Amid the agency’s Review-Journal investigation, Las Vegas suffered the worst mass shooting in modern American history when a Mandalay Bay high roller opened fire on a packed outdoor concert from his 32nd-floor apartment, killing 60 people and himself . A few days after the shooting, German exclusively reported that the gunman fired at two nearby jet fuel tanks — hitting one of them but causing no damage — before turning his attention to the concert venue. This led to calls for better security around the tanks and an independent review that recommended stronger protections.
German also learned that it had been years since key Nevada public safety officials had seen an emergency response plan from a Strip casino, including Mandalay Bay. He led an investigation that found state officials were lax in forcing casinos to comply with a 2003 state law to submit the plans. The lack of oversight was documented in records obtained by Germany, and officials admitted they had no standards to judge whether the plans presented by the casinos even worked. In response to the story, the state created a task force to revise the law and strengthen requirements for casinos.
German got the story of a criminal who beat charges of robbing three jewelry stores because of government misconduct — and then returned to the scene of one of the stores to rob it again.
And he was the lead author of an investigative story that revealed Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson decided not to prosecute a longtime aide who stole nearly $42,000 from his 2014 campaign to feed a video poker habit. Instead of putting aide Audrey Locke through the criminal justice system, Wolfson allowed her to quietly resign and seek treatment for a gambling addiction. She paid back the money and was rehired after completing treatment.
The theft remained secret for more than three years until German and a fellow reporter obtained copies of private emails between Wolfson and Locke discussing the theft in 2014. After Wolfson and Locke were confronted about the emails, both agreed to interviews and confirmed the secret scandal.
Wolfson was criticized for appearing to favor a close aide, and as a result of the story he drew an opponent in his re-election race and lost key endorsements.
German holds a master’s degree from Marquette University and is the author of the 2001 true crime book “Sin City Murder: The Death of a Las Vegas Casino Boss,” the story of the death of Ted Binion, heir to the Horseshoe Club fortune.
There were many tributes to German in Nevada and the Las Vegas Valley on Sunday.
Gov. Steve Sisolak called German’s death “a tragic loss for our community,” adding that German “was tough but fair and a great mentor to young reporters.”
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., said she was saddened by the loss.
“He was a fearless reporter and never shied away from tough stories, no matter who was involved,” Titus tweeted. “Many expressed the need for reform that made our city better.”