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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Giant HOA Fraud|Being Rolled Up

LAS VEGAS (CN) - A federal jury Tuesday convicted an attorney and three others of conspiring to take control of homeowners associations and steer millions of dollars to a construction company and law firm.

Convicted of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud were attorney Keith Gregory, 61; David Ball, 47; Edith Gillespie, 54, all of Las Vegas; and Salvatore Ruvolo, 86, of Henderson.

Gregory and Ball also were convicted of two counts of wire fraud, Ruvolo of three counts of wire fraud, and Gillespie of one count of wire fraud, according to the FBI.

The jury found they fraudulently took control of homeowners' associations in charge of 11 Las Vegas-area condominium complexes, then steered construction defects complaints to a law firm and repair work to Silver Lining Construction, owned by co-conspirator Leon Benzer.

Investigators said Benzer, 47, and construction defects attorney Nancy Quon, 51, orchestrated the scheme. Quon committed suicide in March 2013.

At least 30 defendants already have pleaded guilty in the scheme, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

From August 2003 until February 2009 the conspirators identified condominium complexes and homeowners' associations that had "construction issues" that could result in construction defects lawsuits and repair work, the FBI said in a statement.

The defendants arranged for or were among straw purchasers to buy condo units and then run for election to the homeowners associations to gain control of them. They falsified their loan applications to buy the units, the FBI said.

To ensure they won control of the HOAs, the FBI said, they "employed deceitful tactics, such as submitting fake and forged ballots, and hiring complicit attorneys to run the elections as 'special election masters'" to supervise the elections and ballot counts.

Once elected, they conspired to select property managers, contractors, general counsel and construction defect attorneys to represent the homeowners' associations. Gregory was among the attorneys hired as general counsel by the HOAs, investigators said.

The conspirators steered more than $7 million in construction contracts to Benzer's construction company, and a co-conspirator netted millions of dollar in legal fees, the FBI said.

Benzer paid the defendants for participating in the fraud and directed about $90,000 in legal work to Gregory in addition to about $12,000 in kickbacks, the FBI said.

Benzer in January pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, 14 counts of wire fraud, and two counts each of mail fraud and tax evasion. He awaits sentencing.

The conspirators bought 37 condominium units and 33 of them went into foreclosure.

Gregory, Ravulo, Ball and Gillespie are to be sentenced on June 17.

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