Former construction company boss Leon Benzer, the man behind the massive scheme to take over and defraud Las Vegas-area homeowners associations, was sentenced Thursday to 15 ½ years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge James Mahan also ordered Benzer to serve five years of supervised release after prison and pay $13.4 million in restitution.
Benzer, 48, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion charges, is to surrender to prison authorities Nov. 6.
He was among the last of 39 defendants to be sentenced in the largest known public corruption case in Southern Nevada. Three defendants died, one by suicide and two by natural causes, before they could be sentenced.
In handing out Benzer’s sentence, Mahan said the best advice Benzer got from his lawyer, Daniel Albregts, was to plead guilty in the long-running case in January.
That prompted Mahan to hand out a lighter sentence than the nearly 20 years Justice Department lawyers had sought.
“It was mind-boggling — the corruption,” Mahan said. “This whole thing was really very unsettling. The scope of it, the scale of it was absolutely astounding.”
Benzer appeared to be on the verge of fainting after Mahan ordered him to prison. He was allowed to walk back to the defense table, where he staggered for a moment before sitting down.
Benzer did not address Mahan in court, but provided the judge with a letter apologizing for his actions and explaining that he feels “completely lost” in the aftermath of the FBI-led investigation. Read more: