NEVADA – Defense in HOA scheme trial missed its mark

Las Vegas Review-Journal:  Defense in HOA scheme trial missed its mark
By John L. Smith
January 13, 2015

Give credit where it’s due. Leon Benzer’s capable attorneys made a game effort.

But despite recent attempts to have the federal criminal charges against him disrupted, Benzer remains in the cross hairs of the FBI and Department of Justice. That’s no surprise.

Nor is it startling that counterpunches by the defense — allegations of government misconduct and the claim that pretrial press coverage has prevented a fair jury trial in Southern Nevada — missed their mark. They were at best legal long shots. Those shots were fired, I suspect, in part because when the pretrial smoke clears Benzer and his co-defendants figure to be buried under a mountain of damaging facts and the testimony of dozens of credible witnesses — including some former co-conspirators.

Attempting to change the venue of the trial because of adverse publicity was an academic exercise. As any rookie attorney knows, arguments for a change of venue are almost never granted. And lots of investigations and criminal cases have attracted much more pretrial publicity than the HOA scandal.

The defense became particularly prickly over the publication of an Oct. 30 article in the Review-Journal by veteran court reporter Jeff German. Drawing from a court document that was briefly in the public domain, the story revealed a failed attempt by prosecutors and Benzer to cut a deal. Read more:

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