HOA Fraud Wins Man|15 Years in Prison

     LAS VEGAS (CN) – A $58 million fraud that gained control of HOA construction contracts sent a man to 15½ years in prison Thursday, and the judge ordered him to pay $13.3 million in restitution.
     Leon Benzer, 48, pleaded guilty on Jan. 23 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, 14 counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud and two counts of tax evasion. He was one of 42 people who have been convicted or pleaded guilty in the scheme.
     “Benzer recruited and paid off puppets to serve on homeowners’ boards so that they would steer lucrative contracts to his company and cronies,” federal prosecutor Leslie Caldwell said.
     Benzer admitted that from August 2003 through February 2009 he and an attorney gained control of boards of directors of homeowners associations in and around Las Vegas. They recruited straw buyers to buy condominiums and get positions on boards of directors.
     Then, Benzer admitted, he bribed them hire co-conspirators’ law firm for construction-related litigation and awarding remedial construction contracts to Benzer’s company, Silver Lining Construction.
     Prosecutors said total damages in the long-running fraud came to $58,141,275.

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