NEVADA – Target of Las Vegas HOA investigation detailed scheme, bribes in secret document
In the summer of 2011, Justice Department lawyers were wheeling and dealing behind closed doors with dozens of targets in the long-running investigation of a scheme to take over homeowners associations in the Las Vegas Valley.
One of those who flirted with taking a deal was former construction company boss Leon Benzer, the man prosecutors call the mastermind of the biggest public corruption case in Nevada history, according to sealed investigative reports obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
As the high-profile case heated up, Benzer and his defense lawyer, Daniel Albregts, secretly met four times with prosecutors and investigators at the FBI’s local office over three months. But no plea agreement was made. Benzer was indicted by a federal grand jury.
But during those wide-ranging discussions, Benzer detailed how he corrupted HOA boards through bribery and election rigging to obtain millions of dollars in construction defect contracts, the reports show.
The scheme was hatched because Benzer felt competing construction companies were using their connections to make it difficult for his company to break into the defect repair business, according to the reports.
He told investigators that the scheme, which ran from 2003 to 2009, was aided by a $1.5 million loan from construction defect lawyer Nancy Quon to purchase condos for straw buyers to be elected to HOA boards.
Benzer, 47, admitted he gave his personal lawyer, Keith Gregory, a $10,000 bribe for work on the HOA takeover at the Vistana condominium complex in southwest Las Vegas. Gregory is also under indictment.
Benzer recalled paying Gregory from his personal account “as a ‘thank you’ for ‘working with us.’ ”
“When questioned as to exactly what he meant by thank you and whether the payment was more accurately described as a bribe payment, Benzer advised that the term bribe was ‘your language’ and he didn’t like to use that term, but that the answer was ‘basically yes,’ ” reads one report. Read more: