The 14 new defendants in the federal investigation into corruption at homeowners associations have yet to enter guilty pleas in court, but they already have been named in a class action lawsuit that mirrors the investigation’s allegations.
Attorneys Matthew Callister and Mitchell Bisson also have added the names of seven more condominium owners as plaintiffs in the first of several amended complaints they expect to file in the District Court litigation.
All but one of the 25 defendants in the federal criminal case now have been named in the civil action, which alleges the homeowners were defrauded in the massive takeover scheme across the Las Vegas Valley. One defendant who pleaded guilty last year, attorney David Amesbury, remains a defendant in the amended complaint, though he died March 25 by apparent hanging.
Among the 14 new criminal defendants waiting to enter guilty pleas are disbarred attorney Jeanne Winkler, former Las Vegas police officer Morris Mattingly and Lisa Kim, who ran a community management company that handled several homeowners associations tied to the federal investigation. The defendants are to plead guilty on May 31 before U.S. District Judge James Mahan.
Federal authorities have alleged that former construction boss Leon Benzer and the late construction defects lawyer Nancy Quon were behind the scheme.
Benzer has discussed striking a plea deal with prosecutors but remains a target of the far-reaching investigation. Quon, who was not charged, was found dead in the bathtub of her Henderson condominium on March 20. Police do not suspect foul play in her death.
Both Benzer and Quon were among the original civil defendants when the class action lawsuit was first filed in March.
Callister and Bisson in the lawsuit joined federal authorities in alleging that the scheme involved stacking homeowners association boards with friendly members who would hand out legal work and construction defect contracts at the expense of the associations and their homeowners.
The co-conspirators would find straw buyers to buy condominiums at various developments and get them to run for seats on the boards. The straw buyers would be elected through classic dirty campaign tactics .
Because of the conspiracy, property values at those developments have diminished, causing “substantial emotional distress” to the condominium owners, the lawsuit alleges.
The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit now include homeowners at the Vistana, Chateau Nouveau, Sunset Cliffs, Palmilla and Pebble Creek. The homeowners associations at those condominium developments are defendants in the lawsuit.