I’m late getting this one up on the blog, since most of those-in-the-know already read this in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. But for the record, another of the Las Vegas HOA crooks has pleaded guilty. That makes thirty down with at least eight more to go. Ah, and four suspicious ‘suicides.’ And there’s absolutely no word about the judge or the other police officials who were supposedly implicated.
The latest HOA crook to bite the dust is Las Vegas lawyer Barry Levinson. The Feds got him for stealing a million bucks from his clients, failing to report 28,000 in income taxes, wire fraud, mail fraud, and….oh yes, conspiring to fraudulently pack the boards of Las Vegas homeowners associations with phony members so his organized crime ring could completely take over those associations. Thousands of homeowners got hurt. Many lost their homes. The Las Vegas housing industry went right into the sewer.
Look for Levinson to get an extremely light sentence, though. That’s because he agreed to testify against his racketeering buddies.
PERSONAL NOTE: As a decades-long investigative reporter with CBS, ABC and NBC affiliates in two states, I am personally embarrassed and disgusted at how the national media have almost completely ignored the HOA mob story in Las Vegas. This investigation into the organized corruption of Homeowners Associations, the legal system, the judicial system, the police system is one of the largest organized crime and racketeering investigations in the history of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office. How could the networks overlook it?
This investigation cost the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and it’ll cost tens of millions more before it’s over. Hold your breath: only 11 Homeowners Associations are named in this investigation.
Folks, there are 335,000 HOAs in the country. Organized crime is rampant throughout HOA Amerika. Don’t believe it? Just google “embezzle homeowner association.” You’ll get 54,000 hits. The search term “homeowner association fraud” will get you almost a million hits. I understand the limitations of Google searches but still it’s mind-boggling. And those terms don’t count a myriad of other types of HOA crimes like extortion, death threats, fraudulent liens and foreclosures and funneling money off to your brother-in-law to cut the grass at the front entrance.
The FBI probe into these 11 HOAs is what’s often called a “show investigation” or a “show trial.” Because of the expense of this eight-year-long investigation the Feds have absolutely no intention of carrying out similar research in other cities. No, this investigation was just for ‘show.’ It’s meant to demonstrate to other police departments that this kind of investigation and trial can produce results anywhere.
Remember that first FBI sting operation in Washington DC back in 1975? Undercover FBI agents set up a phony fencing operation, bought stolen goods from the underworld, then busted dozens of crooks on camera. It was widely publicized and police departments all over the country began doing their own stings. In a subsequent sting in Denver, police even arrested an Army officer, Capt. Gregory Alberico, for trying to sell nerve gas from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal!
But that’s overly dramatic and straying off topic.
The one news agency in America which has been doing an adequate job reporting on the Las Vegas racketeering scandal is the Las Vegas Review-Journal. And in this week’s story, reporter Jeff German actually brought up suspicions about connections between HOA crooks and the mob. It takes guts for a reporter to include details like that. And I’m linking his latest stories below.
German will get accused of hyping this story when it supposedly has no relationship to what’s going on in HOAs across the country. In fact, German is being hammered with comments from readers that go something like: “If you don’t like living in an HOA, then don’t move into one.” You’ll read similar comments on HOA blogs all over. Please forgive people who say things like that because they’re just pathologically stupid.
Again I’m straying.
But permit me just one more bad metaphor. If your baby is running a sky-high fever don’t fool yourself into thinking that the baby is sick only where the thermometer is touching. No, folks, the whole baby is sick!
Yes, the Feds have only gone after 11 Homeowners Associations out of 335,000.
But I promise you, folks: The whole baby is sick.