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Former client recalls Robert Telles as angry, inept lawyer
Telles handled guardianship cases before being elected as Public Administrator
The history of disgraced public official Robert Telles includes work in the already corrupt adult guardianship system that exploited some of Nevada’s most vulnerable citizens.
By: Darcy Spears
Posted at 4:53 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 10:58 AM, Oct 06, 2022
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In the wake of a Wednesday morning court decision to remove elected official Robert Telles from his role as Clark County Public Administrator, we continue to dig into the history of the disgraced public official charged with murdering journalist Jeff German.
13 Investigates uncovered Telles’ involvement in the already corrupt adult guardianship system that exploited some of Nevada’s most vulnerable citizens.
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Our years-long guardianship investigation began in 2015. Guardianship is when a court assigns someone to take care of another person who’s deemed unable to make critical health and financial decisions.
Guardians can be family members or private professional guardians, who are assigned hundreds of cases every year.
They’re supposed to protect their vulnerable wards but we reported dozens of cases where those vulnerable people were isolated from loved ones while their homes were sold and bank accounts drained.
“It was like going from the frying pan to the fire.”
That’s how Elizabeth Indig describes her experience with an attorney who’d just received his law license.
That lawyer was Robert Telles who, years later, would be accused of murdering Review-Journal Investigative Reporter Jeff German.
“I’m so freaked out from this whole thing,” said Indig.
Her mother — also named Elizabeth — was caught up in what she calls an unnecessary guardianship.
Mrs. Indig lost her home and everything in it: furniture, a lifetime of collectibles, even the clothes in her closets.
It was all at the hands of private, for-profit guardian April Parks.
Parks was appointed by Clark County Family Court to protect Mrs. Indig.
A judge later found Parks committed fraud.
After 13 Investigates reported extensively about Parks’ pervasive mishandling of cases and double billing her clients, she was convicted of multiple felonies including elder exploitation, theft and perjury.
Parks is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence.
Leading up to that, as law enforcement was closing in on Parks and an indictment loomed, the guardian abandoned dozens of clients and abruptly moved out of state.
Mrs. Indig was one of the clients Parks left behind, forcing Elizabeth to navigate a broken system.
“While I was still battling April Parks, I was acting pro se — as my own attorney — for a long, long time.”
Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada assisted dozens of Parks’ abandoned clients, assigning lawyers who took cases pro bono.
Telles was one of those attorneys.
“Rob Telles first appeared on that case in January of 2016. And by that time, April Parks had fled the state. She was back in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” recalls Rick Black.
Black formed the organization Center for Estate Administration Reform, or CEAR, in 2018 after seeing what happened to his father-in-law in a Clark County guardianship case.
Black says he is not surprised by Elizabeth’s first impression of Telles.
“He was smarmy and disingenuous as a person. And then he was incompetent and lazy as an attorney.”
Fresh out of law school and starting his own probate practice, Telles was given Elizabeth Indig as his first guardianship case.
“I was trying to tell facts to him, like regarding the price of our house that was stolen and how it fluctuates,” recalls Indig. “He couldn’t even grasp simple things, or he didn’t want to. It was weird. It’s like he took the case pro bono just to get out there and get famous.”
At one point in Mrs. Indig’s case, Judge Nancy Alf ordered Parks to pay the family $155,000 but Elizabeth says Telles failed to make that happen.
“He never filed a petition, never took any action against Parks to fulfill the $155,000 judgment, which was all to go to the benefit of his client, daughter Elizabeth Indig,” said Black, whose group, CEAR, has analyzed thousands of guardianship cases across the country including Telles’ work for the Indig family.
“So from start to finish, our interface with this and other cases with Mr. Telles was he’s in it to self-promote, and he’s in it to line his pockets, not necessarily satisfy a client.”
“He didn’t care at all about my mom or me,” said Indig.
Concerned Telles was botching her case, Elizabeth approached him at the courthouse, telling him despite working at no charge he needed to do better.
At one point, she confronted him about misconduct allegations she’d learned of from another attorney during the time Telles attended UNLV’s Boyd School of Law.
Telles was accused of inappropriate behavior at a party where he was intoxicated and allegedly placed his hand on a female student’s inner thigh.
Indig says Telles’ his reaction when she questioned him about that was terrifying.
“Like he wanted to kill me. If looks could kill, I would have died that day. We were in the courthouse, thank God for me. But he just got this look of hate on his face. And he clenched fists and then he looked either direction like he was almost going to strike me right there in the middle of the courthouse. And I backed down after that because that was the real Rob Telles.”
When Elizabeth lost her mother in 2018, she says Telles, “Didn’t even return my call when I left a message that she died. He’s heartless.”
Four years later, she was heartbroken to hear the news of Jeff German’s death.
When Telles was charged with murder, “It was no surprise to me because that’s why I backed off, because I saw there was a rage in there and I didn’t want anything to do with that.”
Rick Black says this little-known area of law — guardianship, probate, conservatorship–often has the least amount of oversight.
And with $2 trillion dollars passing from one generation to another every year, it draws nefarious professionals “Like bears to honey” he says.
He’s seen the exploitation so often, they’ve coined the phrase, “estate trafficking.”