Court records: Former Metro officer to plead guilty in HOA scheme
23 May 2012
A third former Las Vegas police officer has agreed to plead guilty in the long-running parallel probes involving corruption in homeowner associations and at the downtown Courthouse Cafe.
Federal Court records unsealed Wednesday show retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Frank Sutton of the vice/narcotics squad has agreed to plead guilty in the HOA part of the investigation.
Sutton was one of four former Metro Police officers implicated or suspected in the schemes.
The HOA part of the investigation involved efforts to take over Las Vegas HOA boards to steer lucrative construction defect lawsuit and repair work to favored law firms and a construction firm.
The Courthouse Cafe part of the probe, involving some of the players in the HOA scheme, involved allegations of bank fraud related to financing for the cafe.
One of the Metro officers linked in lawsuits to the HOA-board hijacking scheme, retired Lt. Christopher Van Cleef, shot and killed himself in 2008 after FBI and Metro raids revealed an investigation was under way into corruption at HOA boards.
Agreeing to plead guilty earlier were retired Lt. Morris Mattingly in the HOA part of the probe and and retired Lt. Ben Kim in the Courthouse Cafe part of the probe.
Kim’s spouse, Lisa Kim, has agreed to plead guilty in both the HOA and Courthouse Cafe portions of the probe.
Prosecutors have not yet spelled out charges against Sutton. But in multiple lawsuits, it was suggested he and others purchased interests in condominiums so they could get elected to HOA boards and then steer HOA business to the now-deceased construction defect attorney Nancy Quon and to a company that repaired defective condos, Silver Lining Construction.
In one lawsuit deposition, Sutton said he served on multiple HOA boards so he could protect his investment in multiple condos.
“I like to have a say-so on the properties that I buy and I just want to keep the values as high as I can because they’re mostly investments,” he said during a 2007 deposition. “I figure if I’m going to purchase the property, I want to have the best opportunity to have my say-so within the community. And to protect people in the valley and keep the area safe and keep values up.”
Sutton also said in the deposition that after retiring from the police force, he had worked for Leon Benzer, who owned now-closed Silver Lining Construction.
Benzer, known to be a target of the federal probe, hasn’t been charged. He’s vowed to fight any allegation of wrongdoing against him.
Sutton hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
Sutton becomes the 27th person known to have agreed to plead guilty in the probe, which is expected to expand with more guilty pleas and indictments of those who refuse to plead guilty.
Court records suggest the HOA part of the scheme ran from 2003 to about 2009 and targeted multiple condominium developments in the Las Vegas Valley.
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