Federal prosecutors have negotiated guilty pleas with 10 defendants for their alleged involvement in a scheme to take control of as many as a dozen homeowners associations in Las Vegas in order to file construction defect lawsuits against builders and then win contracts to do remediation work.
A dozen more plea agreements are expected in coming weeks, as lawyers from the Department of Justice’s fraud division in Washington, D.C., obtain the cooperation of lower-level defendants and prepare to indict its ringleaders, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
A Las Vegas man who admitted acting as a straw buyer of a condominium in order to get elected to the boad of directors of the Vistana Homeowners Association pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, prosecutors said. Daniel Solomon, 39, was the ninth defendant to enter a guilty plea.
A former employee of Crystal Management, a property management company allegedly involved in the scheme, pleaded guilty to identical charges Thursday. Denise Keser, 44, alleged in court that businessman Leon Benzer and construction defects attorney Nancy Quon were behind the scheme, the Journal reported.
Benzer and Quon have not been charged in the case, but are "key targets," the Journal reported. FBI and IRS agents raided the office of a company they owned, Silver Lining Construction, in 2008. Quon faces arson and insurance fraud charges in a separate case initiated after a fire at her home, the Journal reported.
Prosecutors said Solomon admitted that he purchased a condominium that he did not live in so that he could run for election to the Vistana Homeowners Association’s board of directors.
Solomon said his co-conspirators in the scheme provided the down payment on the condo and paid the mortgage and HOA fees. Prosecutors said the conspiracy used several limited liability companies to own and control other straw properties, with many payments wired from California to Nevada.
After being elected to the Vistana Homeowners Association’s board of directors, in July 2007 Solomon voted to settle a construction defect lawsuit for $19 million. In September 2007, Solomon admitted to voting to award a contract for remediation work to a construction company owned by co-conspirators, prosecutors said.