COUNTYWIDE : Debt Allegations Fly in Election

The race for Supervisor Jim Dougherty's seat is heating up even before its official start with allegations that candidate Tom Ely owes a Nevada casino $3,000 in gambling debts.

Ely, 54, a trustee of the Ventura County Community College District, said Sunday that he settled his debts last June "in cash" with the Edgewater Hotel and Casino of Laughlin, Nev. He said he has called Las Vegas police and told detectives that the casino mistakenly filed a complaint against him.

Las Vegas Police Sgt. Terry Davis said the department could not comment because the detective handling the case is out of town until Wednesday.

Bill Sanderson, casino manager for the Edgewater, also declined to comment Sunday and referred the matter to police.

Ely charged that the alleged gambling debt was illegally leaked and speculated that it might have come from someone at the Simi Valley Bank, which he used as a credit reference when drawing credit at the casino.

He suggested that the leak might have come from somebody who wants to see him defeated in the supervisor's race.

"I think all of us had high hopes it would be a clean race. But it doesn't look like that now," Ely said. "I think the timing is just too unique to be anything else."

Bob Pegg, a director of the Simi Valley Bank who has said he is also running for the Fourth District seat, said he is not responsible for leaking the gambling debt allegations. Pegg said that if the person responsible is a bank employee, he should be disciplined. The Fourth District includes Simi Valley, Moorpark, Somis and the Santa Rosa Valley. Candidates have until Wednesday to file. Three candidates have officially filed so far: Ely, Pegg and engineer Harold Flick. Dougherty is not seeking reelection.

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