weather icon Mostly Clear

Alleged victims in unlicensed group home scheme in Las Vegas evicted

Updated December 23, 2019 - 8:37 pm

For more than a month after Calvin Leslie’s arrest on charges of elder abuse in connection with an unlicensed group home in Las Vegas, he continued to rent rooms to tenants and put bills in their names without their knowledge, prosecutors say.

Leslie, 56, obtained control “through deception, intimidation or undue influence” over tenants’ money, assets or property by collecting rent for November and December for one home, even though he had already received an eviction notice, prosecutors said in a court filing.

Leslie was charged in October with multiple counts of neglecting and abusing an older or vulnerable person stemming from “deplorable conditions” reported at what investigators said was an unlicensed group home at 3105 Parkdale Ave., allegedly run by Leslie and a married couple, Mary Jefferson and Devon Floyd.

The home lacked air conditioning, had overcrowded rooms and contained a restroom without a working toilet. Mentally or physically ill tenants were left to care for themselves, including a 75-year-old man whom paramedics found “lying in a bed in a pool of urine,” according to an arrest report.

But after Leslie was released on bail in that case, he continued to operate at least one other group home in the Las Vegas Valley, prosecutors allege.

He was arrested again Dec. 4 and charged with one count of exploitation of an older or vulnerable person, three counts of neglecting an older or vulnerable person, three counts of abusing an older or vulnerable person and three counts of obtaining and using the personal identity information of another, court records show.

Other property at issue

The new charges, which apply only to Leslie, involve a rented home on Santa Rita Drive, near Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Louis Avenue, according to Metro dispatch records.

Power at the home was shut off early this month, leaving it in the dark with overnight temperatures reaching 43 degrees, which is considered unsafe according to city code. The residents in the home “appeared to suffer from mental and physical disabilities,” an arrest report states.

Approximately eight tenants living in the home have since been evicted.

At least five alleged victims gathered in District Court in Las Vegas on Monday to testify at Leslie’s preliminary hearing. But the defendant, wearing a dark blue jail jumpsuit, waived the hearing, meaning his case will go directly to trial.

Brothers Bobby and Casper Willis, who were among those prepared to testify, said they have known Leslie for several years.

They said they paid $500 per month in rent to Leslie and later spoke to authorities about the conditions at the home after the power was shut off on the cold, rainy morning of Dec. 3.

“He was up to no good,” Bobby Willis said. “He wasn’t trying to help anyone. He was preying on the defenseless, homeless and the mentally challenged people.”

In an arrest report, one victim said Leslie often took rent money from vulnerable tenants and then evicted them without cause, a process he described as “flipping them.”

“Leslie promises residents ‘the world’ and then ‘kicks them out and gets a new batch of people in,’” Jaclyn O’Malley, an investigator for the Nevada Office of the Attorney General, wrote in his arrest report.

The report also states that a tenant had his name on the NV Energy account for the home without his knowledge. A recent statement listed the unpaid balance as $1,473.21.

‘Somebody was using my info’

One man, Charnell Goldsmith, 33, told the Review-Journal at a court hearing last week that he was trying to get an apartment a couple of weeks ago when he discovered that he owed more than $1,000 in electricity bills.

“I hadn’t even been to that unit, over to the property, nothing,” he said. “Somebody was using my info.”

In a brief interview with investigators before his December arrest, Leslie confirmed that “around” eight people were living in the Santa Rita home.

“Leslie denied any of the residents were vulnerable or elderly. He also denied wrongdoing,” his arrest report states.

Leslie, who remains at the Clark County Detention Center, declined a Review-Journal request for a jailhouse interview.

During a status check hearing last week, one tenant who said he had been placed by Leslie in another group home on Tamara Costa Court, near Stewart Avenue and Sloan Lane, asked the judge to help him secure his belongings.

“The computer and the hard drive is mine. I’m a tenant, and other tenants had their computers, cellphones, medication and debit cards and other things removed as well,” Warren Williams, 68, told Justice of the Peace Diana Sullivan. “The system is actually victimizing the persons who are considered as victims in the case, based on some of the circumstances.”

“I hope you can appreciate the fact that I cannot order Metro to turn over anything that might be held for evidence in a case,” Sullivan responded.

In court, Leslie did not look at Williams as he addressed the judge, staring straight ahead. His attorney, Craig Mueller, declined to comment to the Review-Journal about details in the arrest reports, saying he had not read them yet.

“If these people would have died on the streets, absolutely no one would have cared and it wouldn’t have been an issue for anybody,” he said. “They’re all homeless again. I don’t see the logic of this at all. I don’t see what the government is trying to do here.”

Leslie had been arrested on similar charges in Georgia, Ohio and Michigan, Deputy District Attorney Colleen Baharav said.

Tenants evicted

Though the house on Santa Rita Drive was deemed unsafe this month and the tenants left, they were officially ordered out Dec. 17 in a court hearing. The owner, Cecilia Stern, said she just needed the eviction order so she could change the locks.

Las Vegas Justice Court Hearing Master David Brown granted the order after Stern said that the rent at the house is $1,200 a month and that Leslie still owes her $1,900.

Leslie signed the lease with her in October 2018, saying he and two family members would reside there, according to his arrest report.

Stern told investigators that she “never, never, never” gave him permission to have up to 10 people in the home. But on Nov. 17, about a month after Leslie signed a lease on the home, a city of Las Vegas “community residence permit” was approved for the home. The arrest report states that the permit was fraudulent.

Before leaving the courtroom Tuesday, after she had already been sworn in, Stern lifted her right hand.

“This is unauthorized subletting, and that is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God,” she said.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter. Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer David Ferrara contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.