14 more criminal cases unsealed in Las Vegas HOA probe
Eight more alleged “straw buyers’’ have been identified in the Las Vegas-area homeowners association corruption investigation dating to 2008 or earlier.
A federal judge on Tuesday unsealed 14 more criminal cases — including the eight apparent straw buyers — in the long-running HOA probe in which condominium development board elections allegedly were rigged so lucrative construction defect lawsuits and repair work could be steered to the alleged ringleaders of the scam.
The unsealing action by U.S. District Judge James Mahan lifts to 25 the number of criminal cases so far made public in a case expected to expand over the summer.
Last year and earlier this year, 11 people pleaded guilty to wire and mail fraud as part of the same case. The 14 people named Tuesday are also expected to plead guilty to the same or similar charges, an attorney with knowledge of the case said.
However, the charges against them and any plea deals they’ve agreed to have not been made public.
Among the 14 named Tuesday in the federal criminal case, several had already been implicated in civil lawsuits.
They include Lisa Kim, owner of an HOA management company called Platinum Community Services that had been hired by multiple condominium communities where the late construction defect attorney Nancy Quon and construction company owner Leon Benzer were involved.
Quon before her death in March had denied wrongdoing. An attorney for Benzer has denied allegations of wrongdoing against him. It’s thought that Benzer is the focus of the criminal probe, but it’s unknown whether prosecutors have filed sealed charges against him.
Criminal cases also were unsealed Tuesday against five other alleged participants earlier named in one or more civil lawsuits.
They include former Vistana Condominium Owners Association board members Patrick Bergsrud, Charles Hawkins and Morris Mattingly.
Another criminal case was unsealed Tuesday against Brian Jones, an attorney accused in civil litigation of helping to rig one or more HOA elections so straw buyers — those without a real ownership interest — could be elected to the Vistana HOA board and then steer work to the ringleaders.
A criminal case also was revealed against disbarred attorney Jeanne Winkler, who had done legal work for Vistana and separately for Benzer and his now-shuttered company Silver Lining Construction LLC.
The eight names not mentioned in the criminal probe until Tuesday, when the criminal cases against them were unsealed, are Rosalio Alcantar, Robert Bolten, Glenn Brown, Paul Citelli, Michelle Deluca, Sami Robert Hindiyeh, Arnold Myers and Anthony Roy Wilson.
They were identified as straw buyers last week in an amended class-action lawsuit filed by homeowners claiming the election-rigging scheme harmed their property values.
Myers is linked in civil lawsuits to one and possibly two HOAs.
In 2007, he filed suit against the Jasmine Homeowners Association representing owners of a development at 5855 Valley Drive in North Las Vegas.
Myers complained in the suit that after contracting to buy a Jasmine condominium in June 2006, he ran for the HOA board but that one or more elections were marred by irregularities.
Myers complained in the suit that homeowners had received anonymous postcards erroneously stating he didn’t own his condo and suggesting homeowners not vote for him.
Attached to the suit were affidavits from several homeowners attesting to receiving such postcards.
Myers’ suit was dropped after the HOA produced its own affidavits from two of those homeowners saying they had not signed such affidavits for Myers and that their signatures were forged on the affidavits that Myers included with his lawsuit.
Myers was represented in that lawsuit by attorney Keith Gregory, who had also done legal work for Benzer and Silver Lining and is separately being sued by the Vistana HOA over legal work he did for Vistana.
Attorneys for Gregory have denied any wrongdoing as alleged in Vistana’s lawsuit.
Myers and his attorney declined comment this week on whether Arnold Myers is also the “Arnie Myers’’ who was elected in 2008 to the HOA board at a development called Park Avenue on Agate Avenue in Las Vegas, near Las Vegas Boulevard and Pebble Road.
That election was marred by fraud, homeowners there charged in a lawsuit.
They noted Quon; Benzer’s company Silver Lining Construction; Kim’s company, Platinum Community Services, and a Platinum employee, Deborah Genato, were involved with the HOA.
Genato is one of the 11 people who earlier pleaded guilty in the corruption case.