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Bad check charge dropped against Nevada candidate

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[April 20, 2010]  LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Criminal bad check charges were dismissed Friday for a Tea Party of Nevada candidate seeking to unseat Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

HardwareScott Ashjian, 46, paid $5,575 to cover a disputed check and prosecution fees before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis approved withdrawing felony theft and bad check charges, court officials said.

Ashjian issued a statement later maintaining that he never bounced the $5,000 business check that was in dispute, and blamed the state Republican party for what he called "trumped up" charges brought by a prosecutor who used to be a county GOP party official.

"I believe the Republican party has targeted me and my family to get me out of the race," Ashjian told The Associated Press. "We're not going anywhere. We're going to finish this race."

Ashjian, a Las Vegas asphalt businessman, is one of 21 candidates including 12 Republicans seeking to challenge Reid in the November election. Reid is seeking a fifth term in the Senate.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Bernie Zadrowski denied his party affiliation had anything to do with the charges he filed March 26.

"The fact that I'm a former county Republican party chairman has nothing to do with my job," Zadrowski said.

Zadrowski also disputed Ashjian's claims that the disputed check, dated Dec. 7, was returned due to a mix-up with his bank. Ashjian stopped payment Dec. 11.

"The check bounced. Twice," Zadrowski said. "He stop-payment was placed on the check after the second time it bounced."

The Tea Party Express faction of the national movement has distanced itself from Ashjian, who faces a separate civil lawsuit challenging his candidacy in state court in Carson City.

[Associated Press; By KEN RITTER]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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