Saturday, November 01, 2014

Journalistic Bombshell: Target of Las Vegas HOA investigation detailed scheme, bribes in secret documents | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Target of Las Vegas HOA investigation detailed scheme, bribes in secret documents | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Benzer is the alleged "mastermind" of the whole scheme. This report is explosive and Benzer's attorneys went to court to stop the Las Vegas Review-Journal from publishing it.  Read it and see how ridiculously easy it is for somebody with money to take over an HOA board.

update: I read the motion Benzer's lawyer filed and this is how the timeline unfolded:

On August 5, one of the co-defendants, Benzer's former attorney Keith Gregory, filed a motion to sever his trial from Benzer's. Then on September 16, Gregory's attorneys filed this previously-secret document in support of the motion, consisting of a report of Benzer's confidential talks with the prosecution in which he explained how the scheme worked. The plea talks fell through, and the statements can't be used against Benzer, but they are very damaging to any defendant. For example,  here is how reporter Jeff German relates some statements about Keith Gregory:
Benzer, 47, admitted he gave his personal lawyer, Keith Gregory, a $10,000 bribe for work on the HOA takeover at the Vistana condominium complex in southwest Las Vegas. Gregory is also under indictment. Benzer recalled paying Gregory from his personal account “as a ‘thank you’ for ‘working with us.’ “When questioned as to exactly what he meant by thank you and whether the payment was more accurately described as a bribe payment, Benzer advised that the term bribe was ‘your language’ and he didn’t like to use that term, but that the answer was ‘basically yes,’ ” reads one report.
Gregory's attorney asked the court to keep the documents under seal and mistakenly also thought that the government would agree to keeping them secret, but instead the US Attorney's office opposed keeping them secret.

So, on September 17, the court unsealed the documents. The next day, Gregory's attorneys made a motion to withdraw the documents, and asked the court to seal them.  The court agreed on September 19, and sealed and struck them from the record.

But it was too late, because during the few days when the documents were in the record of the case, Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German obtained a copy.  German has been all over this story like a blanket.

On October 30, the defense attorneys learned that German was doing a story on the secret documents. They went to court that day and filed a motion (you can read it on the LVRJ story that I linked to--the whole motion is there) asking the court to stop the publication. A "prior restraint" on publication is almost never justified, so I don't think it would have been granted, but in any event it is too late for any court to stop the publication.  The story is out and you can read it for yourself.

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