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Former HOA board member pleads guilty to conspiracy charge

Another defendant pleaded guilty Monday in the sweeping federal investigation into fraud and corruption at Las Vegas Valley homeowners associations.

Arnold Myers, a straw buyer and former homeowners association board member, entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

He agreed to pay up to $277,022 in restitution and cooperate with the Justice Department lawyers overseeing the long-running investigation.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan set a Feb. 7 sentencing.

Myers, who said he has skin cancer and will turn 79 in two weeks, told Mahan that he was “terribly embarrassed” by his involvement in the scheme.

He is the 26th defendant convicted in the investigation that has focused on a massive conspiracy to take over nearly a dozen homeowners associations between 2003 and 2009. Another defendant pleaded guilty in a related bank fraud scheme.

Myers was supposed to be with 14 other defendants who pleaded guilty May 31 in one of the largest group plea deals ever engineered in Nevada by federal prosecutors. But he was suffering from double pneumonia and could not attend.

In his plea agreement with the government, Myers acknowledged that he became a straw buyer at two condominium developments, Jasmine and Palmilla, and obtained interests in condominiums at two others, Chateau Versailles and Park Avenue.

As a board member for Chateau Versailles in the northwest valley, Myers acknowledged abusing his authority by signing two checks totalling $70,000 payable to a lead conspirator in the scheme.

More than $8 million was funneled through secret bank accounts to fund the scheme, which allowed the conspirators to land lucrative legal, construction and community management contracts at the associations, prosecutors have alleged.

The conspirators, through election rigging and other dirty campaign tactics, stacked association boards with straw buyers who voted to award them millions of dollars worth of contracts, prosecutors alleged.

Former construction company boss Leon Benzer and the late construction defects attorney Nancy Quon are alleged to have pulled the strings in the takeover conspiracy. Benzer has not been charged. Quon, who committed suicide in March, was not charged.

Justice Department lawyers are presenting evidence in the investigation this summer to a federal grand jury aimed at obtaining indictments against more defendants.

Prosecutors are looking to charge as many as a dozen more co-conspirators.

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

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