Woman who died at MGM Grand was wanted for fraud


Two criminal investigators successfully tracked a woman wanted for several fraud and theft charges to the MGM Grand on Tuesday only to see her jump from a balcony and fall 35 floors to her death, according to law enforcement documents obtained Friday.

Investigators from the securities division of the secretary of state's office entered room 35811 in the third tower of The Signature at MGM Grand to apprehend Elizabeth Victoria DeMaria.

The 46-year-old woman was accused of running a scheme that lined her own pockets by duping investors into thinking they were helping to start a television company called The Vegas Channel. Instead, DeMaria bought luxury items for herself with about $200,000 she bilked from nine people in less than a year.

DeMaria was charged in March 2010 with 11 counts of fraud and 11 counts of theft. She didn't appear for a status check on May 10 and became a fugitive after a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.

Criminal investigators tracked DeMaria down by running surveillance on the home of her father.

On Tuesday, they followed Ralph DeMaria when he left his residence on Farnsworth Pond Avenue, near Jones Boulevard and Tropical Parkway. When the man stopped at a Walmart, officers saw a floral-printed bag in the passenger seat of his car.

Ralph DeMaria dropped the bag off at The Signature at MGM Grand, a group of all-suites towers at the resort. Investigators saw the bag had a tag with Elizabeth DeMaria's alias, Lisa Victoria.

The bell desk attendant told investigators the bag was to be delivered to Tower 3, room 35811. Security at the hotel confirmed the room had been reserved under the same alias.

Investigators knocked and announced their intent to serve a bench warrant several times after reaching the door to the suite, according to a search warrant obtained Friday by law enforcement. A female voice could be heard in the room, but she did not respond to requests to let officers enter.

The officers forced their way into the room and saw DeMaria throw a laptop computer off the balcony before jumping herself, the warrant said. She fell 35 floors to her death.

Las Vegas police and the Clark County coroner's office were called to the scene. The remains of the computer were recovered and, under the search warrant, will be examined for evidence of fraudulent materials and activity.

The hotel room was sealed and searched as a crime scene. A white stone ring and a brooch were found in the room.

Documents in plain sight on the bed referenced Secretary of State Ross Miller and Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie. There was a U.S. passport under the name Lisa Victoria.

"The passport could be used for international travel, thereby implicating consciousness of guilt," investigators said in their search warrant. "The passport is evidence of a violation of federal law and contraband."

Further investigation showed that DeMaria had been renting the room since May 10, the day she failed to appear. While staying at the MGM Grand, she wrote and posted "disparaging blogs about witnesses related to her criminal prosecution," the warrant said.

DeMaria sold TVC as a locally themed channel that would broadcast via cable, satellite, and the Internet.

Investigators say she gave investors the choice of a return nearly 10 times their investment after 13 months or a return of 20 times their investment after 18 months, according to a 2010 news release from the secretary of state's office.

She said the money was used solely to develop TVC, but her bank records show investor funds were deposited into an account under the name Luxury Lifestyles of Las Vegas, on which DeMaria was the sole signatory.

Investigators said more than $126,000 in cash was withdrawn by DeMaria from that account. Several thousand dollars was paid to Mercedes Benz Finance. More than $11,000 was used for various retail purchases.

Contact Ben Frederickson at bfrederickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512.

 

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