Nevada Judge Orders Release of Documents

As a former investigative reporter I always hated it when some nameless bureaucrat failed to obey federal law and turn over documents under the Freedom of Information Act. They ALWAYS stall. In doing so they ALWAYS break the law. Many times I went behind the bureaucrats’ back and asked a buddy to ‘leak’ the requested information to me. Then to mess with their heads I often sent a letter of demand to the agency in question asking for all documents related to how the agency had handled my first demand under the Freedom of Information Act. They’re bureaucrats. They’re arrogant. Some are lazy. Some just aren’t that bright. And sometimes they screw up and end up giving me the documents they were required by law to turn over in the first place.

That said, reporters and lawyers for the Las Vegas Review-Journal are doing their job at getting their hands on documents in the FBI’s long-running investigation into the slimy, organized crime ring involving HOA scammer Leon Benzer and his private Mafia of three dozen cops, lawyers, businessmen and HOA management companies who tried to take over Homeowners Associations in The Valley.

Now, Federal Judge Mahan has seen the light and has unsealed quite a number of documents in the FBI’s biggest Las Vegas scam in the state’s history. It’ll take the reporters a long time to sift through the millions of documents. But this is the only news agency in the country that has taken HOA crime seriously and has doggedly pursued these monsters.

I’m still a bit unsettled that out of forty or so cases of bald faced lying and swindling only one guy got significant time. And I still think he’s making travel arrangements to Mexico so he’ll never spend a day in prison. Trust me. This guy is working on it.

(link to Review-Journal story on unsealing of documents)

http://m.reviewjournal.com/news/crime-courts/judge-grants-newspapers-motion-unseal-hoa-probe-documents

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About

Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

2 thoughts on “Nevada Judge Orders Release of Documents

  1. James Allen

    When will enough become enough? It appears that nationwide the whole HOA issue has many homeowners up in Arms and Nevada is the epicenter of fraud as with the other real estate related issues.

    The legislature needs to step up and protect those (home owners) who have put them in a position to control this runaway train of deceit. It is they who have allowed this to continue when knowing full well that the system is broken and full of fraud too easy to conceal behind their protective shields called laws.

    Homeowners rights have lost ground to a systemic problem of controlling ones life through CC&R’s and unbalanced rules and regulations established by a panel of persons who create the rules making sure they are not impacted personally.

    The CC&R’s are generally established by the developer, that in MOST CASES, will not live in the communities they have developed. They in turn give power to the initial board members who take control over the neighborhood and amend or establish the rules and regs. to meet their personal points of view.

    There should be simple rules that maintain the integrity of the neighborhood and don’t compromise the market value of the majority of the other homes. That pure and simple approach may resolve all of this.

    If the issue is one of a failure to pay assessments then a lien and subsequent foreclosure should be an option but certainly not at the peril of the lender. The lien should stay in place until the property is sold, accruing interest or the property owner is placed in collections personally, thus affecting their credit which is not the case now as the debt is against the property and not the owner.

    Revise the laws and power and the result may be in the best interest of all.

    Reply
  2. Nila Ridings

    As one who has stood up against these tyrannical board members and despots I can assure you nothing happens until many people stand up. Legislators do not go out looking for problems to solve. And they aren’t problem solvers. They look to the presenters of the problems for the suggested solutions. My experience was positive in that the legislators were more than willing to listen, learn, and take action. This was not a one phone call, one email, one letter, or one trip to the state capitol effort. It involved hundreds of phone calls, countless emails and letters, meetings upon meetings locally and at the state capitol and testimony both written and verbal. I lost track of how many trips I made to the state capitol building and the hours I invested. Some meetings only lasted fifteen minutes and the driving time was three hours. There was also a substantial expense that came along with all of that. But I would do it all over again! Especially now that I understand the process much better.

    “If the issue is one of a failure to pay assessments then a lien and subsequent foreclosure should be an option but certainly not at the peril of the lender. The lien should stay in place until the property is sold, accruing interest or the property owner is placed in collections personally, thus affecting their credit which is not the case now as the debt is against the property and not the owner.”

    The above comment scares the daylights out of me. Why should a board have the power to ruin the good credit of someone who is forced to withhold their dues and file lawsuits simply to get the attention of the board? And they need that attention because they are paying for services not rendered and the contract they have with the HOA is being breached by the HOA board of directors. Attempting to destroy the credit rating of a homeowner over HOA dues is insane. That could effect someone’s employment or ability to be hired, security clearances for certain positions, credit card and loan interest rates, ability to acquire loans for cars, school, housing, or a business. Doing such would give the HOA power outside of the HOA environment and no doubt would incite violence like we have never seen before in HOA Land.

    Talk to someone who has stopped paying their HOA dues and you’ll get an earful. True, there are some people who simply do not pay their bills on a timely basis but trying to destroy those who do over some HOA dues is not the solution.

    The solution is to get the facts and work out an amicable solution. But HOA boards generally have no skills in negotiating or strategic planning. So they bully the homeowner with lawsuits. Lawsuits are their first line of defense. The board members I’m familiar with are ignorant, power-hungry, dishonest bullies. The last thing they need is more power over a homeowner’s life!

    Reply

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