Nebraska Senator Mike Schneider is asking the governor to call a special session of the legislature to pass new laws against Homeowner Association fraud. He says he’s been reading a blog on the Las Vegas scandal and he doesn’t like the kind of comments being made about suicides committed by suspects indicted in the HOA scandal. (Hmmm, I wonder which blog he’s talking about!)
He does note that out of the first ten suspects named in the massive federal investigation of Las Vegas HOA corruption, four committed suicide. One of the suicides was committed by lawyer David Amesbury. Investigators say he hanged himself from a rafter in his brother’s barn. This was after he was severely beaten and his knees crushed on a street inside a gated Nevada HOA. His suicide seems horribly suspicious. His family doesn’t believe it. This blogger doesn’t believe it. In fact, this blogger is predicting more “suicides” among the increasing number of indicted suspects, especially those who work out plea bargains with prosecutors.
The “suicide” of lawyer Nancy Quon is another weird one. Her whole story is weird. Anyone just reading a few facts about Quon’s story could easily appreciate a new Clancy novel about the case. It’s great fiction, just great fiction.
But Senator Schneider says this kind of publicity is bad for Las Vegas because people think “the Mob” is back in the city killing witnesses. He thinks a new law against HOA corruption would improve the city’s image. He decries the fact that rigged HOA elections are egregious and that they amount to a legalized shakedown of insurance companies.
Senator Schneider is right about one thing. There absolutely have to be some legislative changes to fight this kind of corruption. But he doesn’t take into consideration is that Las Vegas HOAs are not unique. The same kind of corruption is endemic in HOAs across America. The very structure of Homeowners Associations puts them in a position where corruption by board members, managers and attorneys is almost encouraged. There are no double-checks, there are no controls, there’s nothing to stop corruption in most of these gated neighborhoods.
It’s sad, but any new state law against Homeowner Association corruption is simply not going to work. There are already statutes against organized crime. That’s what’s allowing the U.S. Attorney to bring these HOA indictments in the first place. The only new law that would have any kind of impact is a federal law that gives homeowners back their access to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The Constitution created all sorts of double checks on government excesses. But people who buy HOA homes sign away their access to the Bill of Rights. Give those rights back, take away the power of HOA boards to arbitrarily fine, sue and foreclose on homes for minor violations and you might actually see some real change.
BTW, credit is due reporter Nathan Baca of KLAS-TV 8 News in Las Vegas for interviewing Senator Schneider and getting this story out to the public.