No links found between HOA probe, beating of lawyer


The FBI and Las Vegas police have pulled out of the investigation into last week's assault on longtime attorney David Amesbury.

"We're out of it," Las Vegas police Lt. Dave Logue said Wednesday. "Neither the FBI nor our Criminal Intelligence Section will be pursuing it any further."

Logue, who runs the Criminal Intelligence Section, said investigators have not uncovered any evidence tying the Henderson assault to the sweeping federal investigation into fraud and corruption at homeowners associations.

"At this point, we have no indication that it's related to the HOA investigation, so the Henderson Police Department will take the lead on the case," Logue said.

Amesbury, who pleaded guilty last month in the high-profile investigation, was found badly beaten at 6 a.m. Nov. 16 in a gated Henderson community.

He was discovered in the street on Dogwood Ranch Avenue near Summit Grove Drive in Green Valley, Henderson police said.

Records show that Amesbury and his wife, Chief Deputy District Attorney Victoria Villegas, do not own a home in the neighborhood.

The assault occurred as the couple appeared to be on the road to splitting up.

Villegas filed for divorce Oct. 21, and Amesbury responded with a counterclaim a week before the beating, according to family court records.

Logue and Henderson police spokesman Keith Paul would not say whether investigators had any leads or suspects in the assault.

Henderson police have not released any information about the assault .

A source close to the investigation, however, said Amesbury was transported to the hospital in bad shape.

"He was really beaten to a pulp," the source said. "He had two broken ribs, and both his kneecaps were shattered. He also had a variety of facial injuries."

Amesbury, 57, who once ran a popular courthouse restaurant, was the first lawyer to enter a felony plea in the far-reaching HOA investigation, which has targeted lawyers, judges and former police officers.

All 10 defendants who have pleaded guilty in the case, including Amesbury, have struck deals to cooperate with federal prosecutors looking to charge higher-level players in the massive scheme to profit from the takeover of homeowners associations. As many as 15 more defendants are preparing to enter guilty pleas in the case, which became public in September 2008 with a joint raid conducted by the FBI, Las Vegas police and IRS Criminal Investigations.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that the co-conspirators stacked homeowners association boards with members who pushed for construction defect lawsuits against builders. The boards then steered legal and construction repair work to the co-conspirators.

As word spread of Amesbury's beating last week, FBI agents began calling attorneys for the cooperating defendants to assure them that they were working hard to determine whether there was a link to the HOA investigation.

Amesbury initially gave conflicting statements about what had happened to him, slowing efforts to rule out a connection to the federal probe, sources said.

Last month, Amesbury pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. He admitted that co-conspirators paid him a $3,000 kickback in 2008 to help rig two homeowners association elections.

The scheme involved finding "straw purchasers" to buy condominiums and using dirty campaign tactics to get them elected to the boards, prosecutors say.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

 

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