WASHINGTON – A Las Vegas attorney pleaded guilty today for his role in a scheme to fraudulently gain control of condominium homeowners’ associations (HOAs) in the Las Vegas area so that the HOAs would direct business to a certain law firm and construction company, and for his role in a scheme to commit bank fraud, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Kevin Favreau of the FBI Las Vegas Field Office, Sheriff Doug Gillespie of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Special Agent in Charge Paul Camacho of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
David Amesbury, 57, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan in the District of Nevada to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Amesbury is the eighth person to plead guilty in connection with the scheme to defraud HOAs in the Las Vegas area. Amesbury also pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to submit false information to a bank with the intention of obtaining a bank loan for a café in downtown Las Vegas of which he was an owner.
Amesbury admitted that from approximately March 2008 until September 2008, he participated in a scheme to control various HOA boards of directors so that the HOA boards would award the handling of construction-related lawsuits and remedial construction contracts to a law firm and construction company designated by Amesbury’s co-conspirators.
Amesbury admitted that he agreed to run the HOA board elections at the Chateau Nouveau and Pebble Creek condominium complexes in Las Vegas in order to create the appearance that the elections were legitimate and were run by an independent attorney. However, Amesbury admitted he was paid $3,000 by co-conspirators for his assistance in rigging the elections at those HOAs.
Specifically, Amesbury admitted that he allowed the bona fide homeowners at Chateau Nouveau and Pebble Creek to mail their election ballots to his law office under the belief that he would keep them secure until the election. In fact, Amesbury allowed other co-conspirators to have access to the ballots and use his law office for the purpose of opening the ballots and pre-counting the number of votes entered for each candidate. This allowed Amesbury’s co-conspirators to know the number of fake ballots that needed to be created to ensure the co-conspirator up for election won the seat on the HOA board. Amesbury admitted that he ran the boards’ election meetings knowing that he allowed co-conspirators to tamper with the election ballots and that he failed to disclose his relationship to other conspirators to the HOA or its bona fide homeowners.
According to plea documents, the co-conspirators elected to the HOA boards used their positions to hire individuals and companies that would result in a personal financial benefit to the co-conspirators, including the co-conspirator law firm for construction defect litigation, and the co-conspirator construction company for remediation and construction defect repairs.
In connection with the bank fraud charge, Amesbury also admitted that between approximately October 2008 and July 2009, he and his co-conspirators met with loan officers from banks in the Las Vegas area, seeking refinancing of a loan for a breakfast and lunch café located in a downtown Las Vegas office building of which he was part owner. According to court documents, Amesbury failed to inform the banks that another individual operated the café on a day-to-day basis, and of the financial arrangement with that individual.
Amesbury admitted that he and his co-conspirators signed a loan application without informing the bank of the true business arrangement with the café operator, which included false financial statements, knowing that the bank would not issue a loan if the bank knew the true state of affairs.
Amesbury’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 23, 2012 at 10 a.m. The maximum sentence for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, as well as conspiracy to commit bank fraud, is 30 years in prison.
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Charles La Bella and Trial Attorneys Nicole H. Sprinzen and Mary Ann McCarthy of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI, IRS-CI and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Criminal Intelligence Section.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.gov .