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Political consultant pleads no contest to battery charge

Updated June 28, 2022 - 1:58 pm

A consultant to several prominent local political campaigns pleaded no contest Tuesday to a battery charge stemming from a fight with his partner at a Strip casino.

Matthew DeFalco was arrested Feb. 21 after Las Vegas police said he was “the primary aggressor” in a fight at Resorts World with his boyfriend, Karl Catarata, who was running for the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents at the time. DeFalco was formally charged on June 16 with misdemeanor counts of domestic battery and battery, and he pleaded no contest on Tuesday to a misdemeanor count of simple battery.

“Notwithstanding the favorable evidence that existed in this case, Mr. DeFalco made a decision to accept the resolution so that he can put this personal matter behind him,” DeFalco’s defense attorneys, Richard Schonfeld and David Chesnoff, said in a statement on Tuesday.

DeFalco, 34, worked on campaigns for several candidates leading up to the June 14 primary, including as the campaign manager for North Las Vegas mayoral candidate and state Sen. Pat Spearman and as a consultant for the campaigns for Clark County sheriff candidate and retired Undersheriff Kevin McMahill, Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson, lieutenant governor candidate and Henderson Mayor Debra March, and Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, among others. DeFalco ran unsuccessfully for Henderson City Council in 2017.

Catarata, 24, was running for the Board of Regents District 6, but lost in the primary with 20.32 percent of the vote.

In a statement sent Tuesday, Catarata said DeFalco should not have been charged after the incident, and that he and DeFalco “look forward to putting this personal matter behind us.”

“I’m disappointed that the court allowed unredacted documents containing the most sensitive personal information about me and my partner to be weaponized in the political sphere for political candidates’ benefit,” Catarata said, referencing an unredacted police report he said was distributed to multiple people.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department arrest report, Catarata called police from Resorts World on Feb. 21 to report he had been punched. Video surveillance showed Catarata chasing after and swinging at DeFalco several times, and DeFalco was later seen hitting and kicking Catarata while the other man was on the floor, the report said.

The arrest report said that Catarata did not want to press charges. Because DeFalco and Catarata are dating and a battery had occurred, “an arrest was going to need to be made,” an officer wrote in the report.

DeFalco agreed to attend 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling, complete 48 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine, Schonfeld said during a court hearing on Tuesday.

“Are you waiving your right to a trial?” Justice of the Peace Cybill Dotson asked DeFalco, who replied, “yes, your honor.”

If DeFalco completes the domestic violence classes and community service within nine months, he will instead be charged with a misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace, Dotson said. If he does not stay out of trouble while completing the counseling he could face up to 180 days in jail.

The attorney general’s office prosecuted the case after Wolfson recused the district attorney’s office, Wolfson said during an interview with the Review-Journal in April.

On Tuesday, Wolfson said DeFalco was still working for his campaign.

“Everyone makes mistakes in their lives, and Matthew is no different,” Wolfson said. “He is a talented and trusted part of my team and a valuable asset to any campaign.”

Deputy Attorney General Erica Gold declined to comment on the case following Tuesday’s hearing, and the attorney general’s office declined to comment due to pending litigation.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberb on Twitter.