11 more people indicted in scheme to control Las Vegas HOAs
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Eleven more defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their alleged roles in a scheme to fraudulently control homeowners' associations in Las Vegas.
The charged defendants, all from the Las Vegas area, include: Jose Luis Alvarez, 45; Rodolfo Alvarez-Rodriguez, 44; Ricky Anderson, 49; David Ball, 44; Leon Benzer, 46; Edith Gillespie, 51; Keith Gregory, 59; Maria Limon, 45; Barry Levinson, 45; Charles McChesney, 47; and Salvatore Ruvolo, 84.
Each defendant is indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Most of the defendants are also variously charged with individual counts of mail fraud and/or wire fraud. Limon is additionally charged with making a false statement to law enforcement.
The fraud scheme operated from approximately August 2003 through February 2009.
Benzer, a local builder, and his co-conspirators would identify HOAs that could potentially bring construction defect cases.
They would next enlist real estate agents to identify condominium units within those HOA communities for purchase.
Next, they would use "straw purchasers" to purchase those condos. Benzer and his co-conspirators would then provide down payments and monthly payments, including HOA dues.
On several occasions, partial interest in some of the condos was transferred to other co-conspirators would would then stand for election to the HOA board of directors.
To ensure that the co-conspirators would win, the defendants would employ deceitful tactics, such as submitting fake and forged ballots.
Once elected, the co-conspirators would manipulate the board in selection of property managers, contractors, general counsel and attorneys to represent the HOA -- including Benzer's construction company and the conspiring law firm.
Gregory and Levinson, both attorneys licensed in Nevada, allegedly agreed to become general counsel for several of the condo complexes.
Limon, Benzer and others also allegedly opened a property management company in order to provide services to some of the condo complexes. To manage the properties, they opened at least five bank accounts through which they moved more than $8 million.
According to court documents, the defendants were each given cash or things of value from Benzer and others for their alleged roles in the fraud scheme.
Eventually, 33 of the 27 condo units went into foreclosure. The 11 condo associations listed as victims are Vistana, park Avenue, Chateau Versailles, Chateau Noyuveau, Jasmine, Sunset Cliffs, Palmilla, Pebble Creek, Mission Ridge, Mission Pointe and Horizons at Seven Hills.
The investigation into the scheme began in September 2008 when FBI agents and Las Vegas police led a raid across the Las Vegas valley.
So far, a total of 26 defendants have pleaded guilty in connection to the fraud scheme and await sentencing. More defendants are expected to be named.
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Charles La Bella, Trial Attorneys Thomas B.W. Hall and Mary Ann McCarthy and Senior Deputy Chief Kathleen McGovern of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Criminal Intelligence Section, and IRS-CI.