Spanish View settlement award stalled

A group of luxury condo buyers left the Regional Justice Center disheartened Friday, stalled in their efforts to get any portion back from $3.5 million in deposits they made on the failed Spanish View Towers in southwest Las Vegas.

Spanish View Towers, near Buffalo Drive and the Las Vegas Beltway, was the first high-rise condo project to halt construction in Las Vegas. It stopped work in July 2006.

Buyers put down 20 percent deposits, anywhere from $160,000 to $300,000, on some of the 405 luxury condo units planned for three 18-story towers.

Bank accounts for the developer, Rod Yanke, have been drained and the project is in bankruptcy, plaintiffs’ attorney Brian Hardy of Marquis & Aurbach said.

Friday’s hearing before District Judge Mark Denton was to obtain settlement funds from Prudential Americana broker Mark Stark and sales agents David Berg and Jeannine Cutter for misrepresentation of information regarding the condo project.

Denton made no decision on the settlement award. He said the case would remain open and proceed toward a June trial.

Bank statements show deposits of more than $5.5 million placed into an escrow account with Equity Title starting in July 2005. The account was then “looted” by the defendants, depleted to a negative balance of 53 cents, according to the claim.

While most of the funds were transferred into the developer’s general checking account, wire transfers in the amount of $1.4 million were sent to unidentified sources. Tracing that money has led to a dead end, Hardy said.

Moreover, money from the checking account was used to pay “questionable expenses,” including payments of $160,000 to Yanke, $150,000 to Cutter and $50,000 to Berg.

The claim said funds were also used to pay the mortgage, utilities and cleaning expenses for Yanke’s Spanish Trail home, where he lived with Cutter; payments to maintain a yacht in Florida; payments to Yanke’s corporation, DWG International; payments to Cutter’s trust, Orion Star; and payments to Jack Woodcock, family friend and former owner of Prudential Americana.

The most egregious use of these funds appears to involve a $50,000 check written for “Anything I Want,” according to court documents.

“The deposits are at issue,” defendants’ attorney Michael Stroberski said. “Berg and Cutter never had possession of the money. It was deposited into the title company and went somewhere else.”

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