Tag Archives: Benzer

Another HOA Crime in Vegas

And this one, my friends, is being committed by a Federal Judge and a US Attorney. The hundred million dollar HOA scam that led to 43 federal convictions in Las Vegas is over. But the judge has ordered all the records from that scam and prosecution to be sealed.

As a reporter I spent a lifetime getting official records unsealed. When things are sealed, there are usually some dirty secrets in those records that make public officials not want to be accountable to the public they serve. This particular sealing of records is incredibly suspicious because of all the public officials who were involved. In the beginning of this investigation there were plenty of hints that one or more Nevada judges was involved. There was also suspicion about a ‘high up’ national political figure who had his fingers in the pie.

As long as these records remain sealed, there will be suspicions that U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. is intentionally covering up something in his own ranks or his fellow judges. Too many people were hurt by this scam. Too many people lost their life savings and their homes. They absolutely deserve to know every detail of this investigation just to see how far the stench of corruption traveled. Nevada has a long history of being run by the mob. The voters deserve to know the truth. ALL of the truth.

Once again, kudos for the Las Vegas Review Journal. While the rest of the news media across America decided this story was too complicated to cover, reporter Jeff German published every possible detail. He deserves the Pulitzer!

(link to story of sealed records in the Review-Journal)


When I’m Wrong, I’ll Admit it

Rumors are that the mastermind of the 60 million dollar Las Vegas HOA scam has reported for his federal prison sentence. I’ve long predicted that Leon Benzer would never, ever report to federal prison. He knows how to get in and out of Mexico. He once owned a tequila company there. With a 15 1/2 year prison sentence would he not be tempted to cross the border?

I’m still not giving up my suspicion that Benzer will retire to a Mexican beach. He’ll only serve half his prison time, anyway, so maybe he actually will show up. And the white collar criminals I’ve known have absolutely loved their time in prison. They’re worshiped as heroes behind bars. Of course, Benzer knows that. But we’ll see.

And yes, I’ll admit it if my prediction was wrong.


The Ongoing Las Vegas HOA Horror Show

I’ve been in the news business for 40 years and I’ve seen so many goofy things happen. Nothing surprises me anymore.

Yes, police investigators need to ask for lighter prison sentences for informants. But they have an overwhelming obligation to protect the public. That’s their primary job. When the number two player in a 60 million dollar scam victimizing Las Vegas homeowners agrees to cooperate with investigators, does that mean he gets off scott-free? Apparently in Las Vegas that’s exactly what it means. Ralph Priola could have been sentenced to 22 years. But federal prosecutors say he deserves no prison time. NONE!

Remember, Priola didn’t voluntarily cooperate with the cops. He was forced. This was a man caught throwing around 20,000 dollar bribes. This was a man as fundamentally corrupt as his boss, Leon Benzer, the mastermind of this massive scam. No jail time? Come on, guys, this was one of the two crooks who crashed the Las Vegas housing market. Prosecutors say he should only pay about 12 million dollars in restitution. But that’ll never happen. That will never, ever happen.

Jeff German, reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, deserves a Pulitzer for the work he’s done on the HOA scandal. It would be a major crime if he didn’t win ALL the journalism awards.

(link to German’s story on Ralph Priola)


Las Vegas Cop Corruption

There’s an excellent column in the Las Vegas Review Journal about one of the sleazy cops who took part in the massive HOA corruption scandal. It’s linked below.

(link to Review-Journal column on corrupt cop, Kim)

Also linked is an FBI press release on its long-running HOA investigation. Supposedly, this was a ten million dollar swindle, but now the FBI is using the figure $58 million. The real losses are many times that amount because the Leon Benzer HOA swindle helped collapse the Las Vegas housing market and an untold number of people lost their homes and life savings. Someday, some smart investigator will start calling it the billion dollar swindle, which it clearly was.

(FBI press release on long-running scam to take over HOA boards)


Nevada Judge Finally Shows Some Guts

Well, good old Las Vegas mobster Leon Benzer has finally met justice in his plan to steal millions and millions of dollars from Homeowners Associations. Not much justice, but at least federal judge James Mahan has now sentenced Benzer to 15 1/2 years in federal prison. With ‘good time’ he may end up spending seven years behind bars. Most of his 38 co-conspirators in the massive scam to take over Las Vegas Homeowners Associations got probation to a year-and-a-half in prison.

Of the other conspirators, a number have died, some of them by suicide. Benzer was the last to be sentenced in the long-running case.

How much did Benzer steal from homeowners? Untold millions. But this gangster’s damage has ripples that will go on forever. Home values in Las Vegas crashed, people lost their homes and all their retirement savings. Foreclosures spiked because so much money was bled out of HOAs. Investigators have said Benzer & Company actually stole somewhere beween 60 and 100 million dollars from homeowners.

But get ready for the real story: It hasn’t happened yet. Leon Benzer is very familiar with Mexico. A ton of money he stole ended up in a Mexican resort. There are links in the HOA investigation to a Mexican drug cartel. Benzer once owned his own Mexican tequila company. He doesn’t have to report for prison until November 6th. As fundamentally corrupt as this piece of trash is, what would stop him from crossing the border? Oh, that’s right. He might not be able to get across the ‘border fence.’

We’ll see.

(BTW, Benzer reads this website! How’s it goin’ Leon?)

(link to Las Vegas Review-Journal story on Benzer’s sentence)