Michelle DeLuca passed through U.S. District Court so quietly she was easy to overlook in the crowd of defendants who this summer accepted plea deals in the ongoing investigation of corruption inside local homeowners associations.
But does DeLuca possess an informed perspective that could break open the criminal case?
She admitted in court that she became a straw purchaser of a Sunset Cliffs condominium for the fraudulent purposes of being elected to the development’s board of directors from 2007 to 2009.
DeLuca, 51, was also being paid in cash by investigation target Leon Benzer, who operated Silver Lining Construction, which specialized in construction defect repair work. According to one source, DeLuca eventually became Silver Lining’s office manager.
As the Department of Justice put it back when DeLuca accepted responsibility for her role in the multimillion-dollar scam, “To ensure the co-conspirators won the elections, the co-conspirators at times employed deceitful tactics, such as submitting fake and forged ballots. Some of these ballots were sent through the U.S. mail.”
What does DeLuca know about the inner workings of Silver Lining?
Maybe we’ll find out some day.
Meanwhile, DeLuca, Benzer and numerous others tied to the homeowners association scandal are named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court by attorneys Matthew Callister and Mitchell Bisson on behalf of a group of legitimate condominium owners who claim their investments were substantially damaged by the fraud perpetrated on the homeowners association.
GOOD COACH: At first glance, Kirk Brotherson was just a small-town basketball coach, the kind you usually only read about in weekly newspapers.
Brotherson died Aug. 4 after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 70.
He won more games at Virgin Valley High in Mesquite than his opposing coaches – a lot more. Fact is, Brotherson’s boys basketball teams were well-disciplined victory machines that were perennially near the top of the small-school standings. In 31 years, his teams won 12 state titles and racked up 559 wins.
But it was his approach to life that impressed friends and opposing coaches.
“He had a genuine interest in his players,” his friend and longtime assistant coach Eugene Hughes recalled. “He was a good communicator. He listened. He not only listened, I suppose he listened with his heart. He was just a good man.”
Brotherson was devoted to his family and his Mormon faith, going on missions even after retiring from coaching.
Former Pahrump Valley High coach Rod Poteete recalled, “He was a gentleman. He was very positive. He really cared a lot about his kids. They had some good athletes, but he got the most out of them.”
When Poteete was hospitalized with a life-threatening illness, Brotherson came to his bedside all the way from Bunkerville. Not many opposing coaches would do that, Poteete said.
“He was an intelligent coach and basically a great human being,” he said.
OUR TOWN: The tumultuous history of race relations in Southern Nevada isn’t well-chronicled, and that’s a shame. But that’s what makes documentary filmmaker Stan Armstrong’s latest effort, “Rancho High School Riots,” all the more intriguing.
A screening of the film, which focuses on the years 1968-1974, is set for 3 p.m. Sunday in the Student Union Theater at UNLV. The film is narrated by Antonio Vargas.
STREET RELIEF: HELP of Southern Nevada continues to outreach to the homeless with bottles of water throughout August, and you can assist them by donating at local Whole Foods Market throughout the valley. Whether it’s spare change or cases of water, the market will add to the effort with its own contributions.
HELP (www.helpsonv.org.)serves approximately 100,000 clients each year through a variety of services, ranging from the current water drive to work training and community alternative sentencing programs.
Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.