Ricky Anderson was supposed to plead guilty Friday in the massive scheme to take over Las Vegas-area homeowners associations.
But a heart attack he suffered roughly 10 days ago in federal custody prevented that from happening.
At the request of his lawyer, Travis Shetler, his plea was continued until June 6. Shetler told U.S. District Judge James Mahan that Anderson, 50, spent three days in the hospital.
A shackled Anderson, regarded as an “enforcer” for Leon Benzer, who is accused of being the mastermind of the HOA scheme, was in court Friday as Shetler disclosed his health problems. Shetler said Anderson needed more time to go over the plea agreement.
Charles La Bella, a deputy chief with the Justice Department’s Fraud Section in Washington, D.C., told Mahan that Anderson signed the agreement days before he suffered the heart attack.
Anderson’s claims of being a ranking kung fu grandmaster led the FBI to name the long-running investigation Operation Grandmaster.
Three other defendants in the high-profile case — Maria Limon and brothers Jose Luis Alvarez and Rudolfo Alvarez-Rodriguez — each pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.
The trio and Anderson were indicted by a federal grand jury with Benzer and six others last year in the Justice Department’s final push to charge conspirators in the HOA fraud scheme. Anderson was imprisoned on a sexual assault conviction in Texas at the time of the indictment.
Prosecutors have alleged that 11 HOAs were defrauded of millions of dollars in the takeover scheme, which occurred between 2003 and 2009.
The investigation is thought to be the largest public corruption case federal authorities have brought in Southern Nevada. A total of 35 defendants have pleaded guilty.
This week’s plea deals follow a February plea agreement by co-defendant Barry Levinson, 47, a suspended attorney facing disbarment.
Benzer, 47, a former construction company boss, and five co-defendants are left to stand trial in October on conspiracy and fraud charges.
The defendants are accused of conspiring to pack HOA boards to gain legal and construction defect contracts. Straw buyers were recruited to purchase condominiums at developments and then get elected to the HOA boards through bribery and rigged elections.
The long-running investigation became public in September 2008, when FBI agents and Las Vegas police conducted raids across the valley.
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter @JGermanRJ.