In court papers, Justice Department lawyers calculate nearly $15 million in actual losses — mostly at the Vistana HOA, where the mastermind, former construction company boss Leon Benzer, and co-conspirators stole more than $12.5 million from a construction-defect settlement.
Benzer also had gained control or was about to take over a half-dozen other HOA boards that eventually obtained more than $45.5 million in construction-defect settlements.
Park Avenue won a $12.5 million construction-defect settlement, Chateau Versailles, $8.8 million; Mission Ridge, $8.5 million; Chateau Nouveau, $8.2 million; Jasmine, $5.6 million; and Mission Pointe, $1.9 million; according to prosecutors.
Benzer, who pleaded guilty and is to be sentenced Aug. 6, recruited straw buyers at the condominium developments and rigged elections to place them on the HOA boards so they could steer the lucrative construction repair work his way, prosecutors alleged. He also put community management companies and lawyers in place to watch the boards.
Benzer intended to “vacuum up every dollar of these settlements,” but before he could grab the money, FBI agents and Las Vegas police broke up the scheme with raids across the valley in September 2008, prosecutors wrote.
“The United States will establish at sentencing that although the HOA takeover conspiracy succeeded in full at only one HOA — Vistana — its tentacles reached throughout the Las Vegas Valley into many different HOAs,” prosecutors said. Read more: