The individuals charged in these cases are alleged to have been part of a scheme that operated from approximately August 2003 through February 2009. According to court documents, the scheme defrauded HOA associations in the Las Vegas area, unit-owners of the HOAs and lenders by employing deceitful tactics to gain control of various condominium homeowners' associations (HOAs) so that the HOA boards would award the handling of construction-related lawsuits and remedial construction contracts to a certain law firm and construction company.
In order to accomplish the scheme, the co-conspirators used straw purchasers to purchase and obtain mortgage loans for units within HOA communities and managed and operated the payments associated with maintaining the straw properties by running a so-called "Bill Pay Program," by which co-conspirators funded the properties through several limited liability companies at the direction of a co-conspirator. The co-conspirator straw purchasers agreed to run for election to the respective HOA boards and were paid in cash or by check or promised things of value for their participation, resulting in a personal financial benefit.
In order to ensure that straw purchasers would win board elections, the co-conspirators created false phone surveys to gather information about voting intentions, used mailing lists to vote on behalf of out-of-town homeowners unlikely to participate in the elections, and submitted fake or forged ballots for non-voting homeowners. According to court documents, once elected to the boards, the co-conspirator board members would meet with other co-conspirators to manipulate board votes, including the selection of property managers, contractors and general counsel for the HOA and attorneys to represent the HOA. The co-conspirators created and submitted fake bids for "competitors" to make the process appear to be legitimate while ensuring co-conspirators were awarded contracts.
Since August 16, 2011, 26 individuals have each pleaded guilty in separate criminal informations for their roles in a massive fraud scheme to gain control of condominium homeowners' associations (HOAs) in the Las Vegas area. Press releases issued in November 2011 and June 2012 by the Department of Justice may be viewed on the web at http://www.stopfraud.gov/iso/opa/stopfraud/2011/11-crm-1482.html and http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/June/12-crm-701.html.
In addition, on January 15, 2013, as the result of the ongoing HOA investigation, eleven individuals were charged in United States v. Leon Benzer et al. (Court Docket No. 2:13-cr-00018-JCM-GWF), for their alleged roles in the scheme to fraudulently take control of homeowners’ associations in the Las Vegas area. The charged defendants, all from the Las Vegas area, include: Jose Luis Alvarez; Rodolfo Alvarez-Rodriguez; Ricky Anderson; David Ball; Leon Benzer; Edith Gillespie; Keith Gregory; Maria Limon; Barry Levinson; Charles McChesney; and Salvatore Ruvolo. Each 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. Also, on January 10, 2013, in a separate but related case, Ralph Priola (Court Docket No. 2:13-cr-00016-JCM-VCF) was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud for his role in the scheme. The charges and allegations against the indicted defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If you have suffered losses as a result of this scheme, you have the right to submit a Victim Impact Statement or letter in aid of sentencing to explain how the crimes affected you. Victim Impact includes physical, emotional and/or financial loss. Because there are many victims and multiple defendants in the HOA cases, we are asking that you complete this statement now as it relates to any or all of the defendants below and mail it to: Pam Washington, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, 10th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Bond Building, Room 4216, Washington, DC 20530. Alternatively, you may also fax the statement to Ms. Washington at (202) 514-3708. This will help to expedite the process if additional defendants are charged and decide to plead guilty. This statement is completely voluntary but is important to us because it reflects what you are having to personally and financially endure because of the defendants' crimes.
If you have any questions about these cases and want to contact Ms. Washington directly, you can call her toll free at 1-888-549-3945.
A copy of a Victim Impact Form can be found by clicking on the link below.