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Milam’s creditors sue BLM over Henderson land deal

The controversial Chris Milam arena land drama in Henderson will not go away quietly.

The creditors of the controversial developer who had unsuccessfully pitched an arena in Henderson have sued the Bureau of Land Management in hopes of closing on the 480 acres of federal land once earmarked for Milam’s professional sports complex.

The Washington, D.C., law firm of Perkins Coie, representing plaintiff Silver State Land LLC, asked a federal court Wednesday to order the BLM to issue the patent for the 480 acres east of The M Resort after the federal agency announced on May 10 that it pulled the plug on the closing set for this month.

Milam’s Texas-based creditors, Rockafellow Investments LLC and II C.B. LLC — the entities behind the Silver State Land moniker — were scheduled to close with the BLM on the land Monday. But three days earlier, they were disappointed to learn that Tommy Beaudreau, acting assistant secretary for lands and minerals, terminated the deal.

In the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the creditors’ lawyer argued Beaudreau’s decision “was beyond his authority” and that he acted in “an arbitrary and capricious fashion.”

John F. Henault, the creditors’ lawyer, also said the BLM can only withdraw land from sale within 30 days after the purchaser’s offer. In this case, “the 30-day sale withdrawal authority expired on July 3, 2012,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also tried to pick apart the BLM’s reason for killing the deal.

According to the lawsuit, the BLM letter accompanying Beaudreau’s decision stated, “This decision was based ion the serious questions that arose subsequent to the BLM’s acceptance of Silver State’s purchase offer regarding the validity and veracity of the sports arena development agreement.”

But the complaint argued, “Yet BLM cites no findings regarding legal inconsistency, collusion or encouragement of speculation upon which the decision to withdraw was made.”

Contacted at his law office, Henault said he does not discuss pending litigation.

The BLM has no comment on the lawsuit because it does not comment on pending litigation, said Celia Boddington, an agency spokeswoman.

The creditors are trying to purchase the land under the Silver State Land moniker, which is the original name used by Milam when he was the sole bidder to submit an offer of $10.56 million to the BLM on June 4 to buy the land.

Eight days later, the BLM confirmed Silver State the winning bidder after Milam made the only bid. On Nov. 28, Milam informed the city his arena deal was no longer viable. But he also wanted to follow through and buy the land. The next day Henderson sent a letter to the BLM asking the agency to postpone issuing the patent to Milam.

The city then sued Milam and four other defendants on Jan. 28, alleging they committed fraud by using the arena proposal as a ruse to get their hands on the land to flip to home builders. Milam and the defendants denied the fraud claims. On March 14, Milam settled with the city.

Under that settlement, Milam’s lenders took over the driver’s seat to close on the BLM land.

The city of Henderson did not try to block the BLM land deal because the settlement called for the Milam creditors to pay $4.25 million to the city at the time of the BLM closing.

Henderson spokesman Bud Cranor issued this statement in response to the lawsuit: “We are reviewing the litigation, but for our part we believe we’ve settled our involvement in the matter and expect that this will remain an issue between Silver State Land and the BLM.”

Former BLM Director Bob Abbey became part of the Milam land soap opera when the city’s legal team argued in court papers that he — as a business partner and friend of Milam consultant Mike Ford — used his influence on the deal. Abbey and Ford have denied any wrongdoing.

In an email, Ford, a former BLM official, said, “The BLM sabotaged the sale upon unproved and highly disputed claims which the City of Henderson dropped as part of its settlement. In short, the sale fully complies with all applicable federal laws, rules, and regulations and the BLM took this action with no apparent thought to the truth of the settled claims.”

Abbey was so upset with the city’s allegations in the litigation that he used an F-bomb in a March 11 email to the Review-Journal to describe Henderson officials. He declined to comment Thursday.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273.

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