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Alcohol flows at charity golf events in Las Vegas, players say

After a fatal crash in one of Las Vegas’ wealthiest communities, real estate broker Scott Gragson told police that he was coming from a golf tournament – and that he had started drinking at 9 a.m., according to his arrest report.

The tournament, a charity event founded by his firm, Colliers International, had alcohol throughout the golf course, according to a lawsuit filed against Gragson this week. But it’s not unique.

Corporate and charity golf events in the Las Vegas Valley can have a reputation for serving plenty of shots, beer and other alcohol to their players, according to some real estate brokers and golf course workers.

Gragson was coming from the Links for Life tournament, held May 30 at Bear’s Best golf course, according to the lawsuit filed Monday by Christopher Bentley, a passenger in the vehicle who suffered serious injuries. Alcohol was served at “numerous locations” at the event and was available at each hole of the course, the complaint alleges.

Gragson, 53, told police that he had four to five mixed drinks and Coors beer, and that he stopped drinking at 2 p.m., according to his arrest report.

His Range Rover crashed around 4:50 p.m. in The Ridges area of Las Vegas. The SUV hit multiple large trees, causing a rear door to get ripped off, the report said.

Numerous tournament sponsors

Everyone in the vehicle worked in commercial real estate. Gragson is a land investor and a broker with Colliers, and two brokers familiar with the matter confirmed that Bentley is an apartment-complex broker at Colliers.

The brokers also confirmed that the person named in the police report as the front passenger, Greg Tassi, is an industrial-property broker at CBRE Group. Tassi did not respond to requests for comment.

Christie Cobbett, who according to the report suffered serious injuries, is a property manager with warehouse developer Prologis.

The passenger who was killed, Melissa Newton, a 36-year-old mother of three daughters, also was a property manager at Prologis.

Links for Life had numerous sponsors this year, including Prologis, which sponsored a “drink station,” according to a flyer for the event.

Prologis spokeswoman Melissa Sachs on Wednesday confirmed the sponsorship and said the company now has nine people in its Las Vegas office.

“Melissa’s passing is tragic and she is dearly missed by our Las Vegas team and our entire company,” Scott Lamson, managing director of Western regional operations at Prologis, said in a statement. “We have reached out to her family to provide help and support and are also in touch with our colleague Christie as she recovers.”

Attempts to reach multiple other sponsors of the event were unsuccessful.

Gragson did not respond to requests for comment. His lawyer in the criminal DUI case, David Chesnoff, did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Mike Mixer, executive managing director of Colliers’ Las Vegas office, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

‘This is very common’

Three brokers spoke with the Review-Journal about alcohol at Las Vegas-area golf events, all on condition of anonymity. As one put it, speaking on the record could be “career-ending” for him.

None of those brokers went to Links for Life this year, though all said they have attended corporate golf outings.

One of the brokers, who has played at Links for Life, said the event is known for serving plenty of drinks, but it’s not alone.

“This is very common,” he said.

A local golf course worker, who is not authorized to speak to news media, said such tournaments are big money makers for courses. Boozed-up players have been known to crash golf carts, he said, and drink stations might be scattered throughout the course, offering Jell-O shots, shots of Jagermeister, and beer.

“Basically, it’s drinking,” he said of the tournaments.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writers Blake Apgar, Mike Shoro and David Ferrara contributed to this report.

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