$17 million judgment ordered against candidate Danny Tarkanian

A $17 million judgment against congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian and his family in a California real estate deal gone bad provided fresh fodder Wednesday for his GOP opponents in the highly competitive June 12 primary race for Nevada’s new House seat.

Tarkanian said he would appeal the judgment, which was signed May 21 by U.S. District Judge William Hayes in the Southern District of California court in San Diego. But Tarkanian appeared stunned by the outcome of the long-running case in which he maintains his family was the victim of loan fraud.

“Our attorney felt confident we would prevail,” he said in an interview before speaking with his lawyer. “I know one thing: We’re going to appeal the judgment.”

Tarkanian learned about the judgment on the same day one of his eight Republican primary foes began airing a TV commercial that attacks his character and his losing election record.

The 30-second ad from Dan Schwartz, an international businessman and newcomer to Nevada, mentions the real estate case hanging over Tarkanian, past property tax issues and problems with Tarkanian’s campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

“You see, Danny Tarkanian never wins because Danny Tarkanian cannot be trusted,” the ad says.

Tarkanian said he expected negative attacks, which have hobbled him in previous campaigns, including the GOP U.S. Senate primary in 2010 in which he came in third .

“They always come with the hit pieces,” Tarkanian said.

With early voting under way, Tarkanian remains the Republican to beat thanks to his high name recognition and base of support from his three previous campaigns. But his opponents’ attacks painting him as a perennial loser and a poor businessman may be taking a toll.

Internal polling in the race shows Tarkanian still leading the field, but his support from likely primary voters has dropped in recent weeks, from the 60 percent range into the 30s, as the campaign has become more competitive, according to two GOP insiders familiar with the surveys.

Schwartz and state Sen. Barbara Cegavske are running neck and neck for second place, but neither has cracked 20 percent support, according to the internal polling in the volatile race.

Up to 15 percent of GOP primary voters remain undecided, according to the polling. Because the race is so splintered, the victor could win with about a quarter of the vote.

Tarkanian and Schwartz are the only candidates airing TV ads widely across the district. It covers the lower half of Nevada, including all of five rural counties and parts of Lyon County and urban North Las Vegas in Clark County. Cegavske’s campaign has focused a ground game on reaching 10,000 supporters, which probably would be more than enough to win in a low-turnout GOP primary.

Ken Wegner, who has been a GOP congressional nominee three times but lost to U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., is a Gulf War veteran with a solid base of military support.

Political newcomer Kiran Hill, a former Marine who has worked for the State Department in Iraq, seeks to lure voters by appealing to supporters of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, through a TV ad in Pahrump.

The GOP primary winner June 12 will face outgoing Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, the only Democrat running, in the Nov. 6 general election.

For the past couple of years, the Tarkanians have been losing the legal battle to save a 9-acre parcel of land near the M Resort on Las Vegas Boulevard .

In 2010, the Tarkanians sued La Jolla Bank to block it from foreclosing on the property, used as collateral for a $14.6 million loan in 2007 as part of the soured California real estate deal.

The bank later failed and was taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., apparently leaving the Tarkanians with little legal recourse.

Tarkanian’s attorney, Gus Flangas, said the FDIC foreclosed on the family property in 2011, placing its value at
$3 million. The Tarkanians could be on the hook to make up the difference of the $17 million judgment if they don’t win an appeal to the 9th Circuit or if they don’t settle with the FDIC.

Another option is for the Tarkanians’ Vegas Diamond Properties LLC to declare bankruptcy, although Flangas said that “the family’s trying to do everything they can to keep from having to do that.”

“It was bad enough to lose the property,” which was meant to be a retirement nest egg, Flangas said. “It would be even worse for them to come after the family for the money.”

Vegas Diamond Properties is owned jointly by Tarkanian and other members of his extended family, including his mother, Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, and his father, Jerry Tarkanian, the former famed University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball coach.

The Tarkanians contend they were tricked into loaning a California-based developer money for a project in Anza, Calif., that had many undisclosed problems.

The Tarkanians’ lawsuit alleged that La Jolla Bank worked with real estate investor Robert A. Dyson Jr. to defraud the family by approving the loan deal despite the developer’s growing financial problems and opposition to the Anza project from local Native Americans.

Court documents said the Anza property, valued at
$15 million, was securing loans through La Jolla worth
$32.5 million, and Dyson couldn’t make good on his obligations.

Dyson later filed for bankruptcy protection, leaving the Tarkanians unable to sue him.

Once the FDIC got involved, the courts began siding with the federal receivers.

“Anything the bank did wrong kind of goes out the door,” Flangas said.

On May 4, Judge Hayes issued a summary judgment on the FDIC’s behalf against the Tarkanians.

The financial judgment came a couple of weeks later against Danny Tarkanian, his wife, Amy, his parents and other family members for $16,995,005.17, including the loan principal, interest and fees.

“The principals involved not only lost their properties, but also are now in danger of losing their entire net worth,” Flangas wrote Wednesday in a document summing up the case.

Reporter Jeff German contributed to this story.

News Videos
Report knocks Las Vegas for ozone, but local officials cite improvement
The American Lung Association says Las Vegas has some of the highest ozone levels in the nation, but Clark County air quality officials insist the community is improving when it comes to the smog-causing pollutant. (Michael Quine)
It's Rattlesnake Season
As temperatures start to rise in the Las Vegas area, people are heading outside for various activities. Possibly hiking and maybe with a dog. People and pets aren’t the only creatures coming out of their winter homes – so are snakes. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP Trooper sustains dog bite during rescue
A small dog loose on the freeway bites the hand of an Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper that saved it.
Henderson fails to investigate the drug overdose death of one of its officers
Henderson Police Department's internal affairs did not investigate the 2014 drug overdose death of an officer. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP trooper and good Samaritans save a life
Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Jacob Fisher and a group of good Samaritans performed lifesaving CPR on a driver suffering a heart attack last month in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Syphilis Awareness Day
Dr. Joe Iser, District Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District, discusses the effects and issues with syphilis in the Las Vegas community on April 16, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas diocese IDs 33 ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse
The Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas released a list on Friday of 33 “credibly accused” of sexual abuse who at some point served in the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CCSD Arbor View meeting
The Clark County School Board hears from the public about racial tensions at Arbor View High School on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Amelia Park-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Parents of autistic student battle Clark County School District
Joshua and Britten Wahrer, parents of a special education student, are battling the Clark County School District for the right to equip their son with a monitoring device. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Metro homeless outreach a shift in strategy
Lt. Joe Sobrio discusses the new homeless outreach team for Metro. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prayer for Opportunity Scholarships
Las Vegas students and adults hold a prayer meeting about the Opportunity Scholarship program on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Solar scams on the rise in Nevada
As Nevada’s solar industry has made a resurgence, solar scammers have followed suit.
Clark County schools and the late bus issue
Year after year, late or no-show buses in the Clark County School District draw the ire of parents and students alike. One year the problem even prompted a parent to crack a school bus window in frustration over a late drop-off. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 southbound congested near Primm Sunday afternoon
Drivers heading toward California on Interstate 15 should expect heavy traffic and a 13-mile backup Sunday afternoon.
Learning lifesaving skills in advance of fire season
Students and firefighters attend a training session at Fire Station 80 in Blue Diamond, Saturday, March 30, 2019. The training session helps volunteer firefighters obtain necessary annual certification to work wild fires.
Car restoration behind prison walls
Inmates share their experiences working for the Southern Desert Correctional Center auto body shop in Indian Springs while learning valuable skills.
Parent remembers Las Vegas boy killed by car
People visit a memorial at the intersection of South Fort Apache Road and West Arby Avenue at at Faiss Park Wednesday, March 27, 2019, where Jonathan Smith, 12, of Las Vegas, died after he was struck while crossing Fort Apache Monday. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Couple left with surprise medical bills after visit to the hospital
Michael Pistiner took his wife, Marta Menendez-Pistiner, to the ER in January after she fainted twice and appeared to be having a seizure. Despite paying $856 monthly for health insurance, the two, self-employed musicians, were stuck with more than $5,700 in hospital and doctor bills after than hour-and-a-half visit. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Las Vegas police brief the media on fatal crash
Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Nick Farese addresses the media about a car accident at South Fort Apache Road and West Arby Avenue that left one minor dead and one hospitalized on Monday, March 25, 2019. (Mike Shoro/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Arbor View parent talks about racial issues at the school
Lawanna Calhoun, a former Arbor View parent, talks about the state of the school. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Foley talks about 30 years of living HIV-positive
Jim Foley, who was diagnosed as HIV positive 30 years ago, talks at his home in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Traffic Slows to a Crawl on I-15S Near Primm
Traffic slowed to a crawl around 2:30p Sunday, on I-15S near Primm, Nevada.
Homeless residents speak about safety
The homeless residents living at the corner of Owens Ave. and Main St. reflect on how they feel about their safety after two homeless men died, one was hit crossing the street and another was beat to death by another homeless man. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
CCSD Superintendent address alleged racially motivated threats at Arbor View
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara gives update on alleged racially motivated threats against Arbor View High School, and says such threats will not be tolerated. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Super Bloom Near Lake Elsinore, California
Crowds packed the hills near Lake Elsinore on Saturday to capture a rare selfie amidst the super bloom of poppies turning the landscape purple. The super bloom was caused by the larger rainfall this year. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Home Front Page Footer Listing