Friday, August 07, 2015

Federal Judge sentences Leon Bezer for paying off HOA boards - new angle on CID/HOA Corruption

CZ Master Association President Xochitl Yocham, the most litigious HOA in Southern California may be part of the problem.

Posted by CotoBlogzz

Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca - a lawsuit ( Case No.: 30-2014-00748493-CU-CO-CJC)  recently filed by a Huntington Continental homeowner naming 50 defendants seeking over $100,000 per defendant sheds light into corruption associated with the common interest (CID/HOA) industry.

Two of the defendants named in the lawsuit include James Harkins and Carey Treff.  Harkins is the legal counsel for the CZ Master Association and Treff is Keystone Pacific's CEO, the association's property manager.  It so happens that the CZ Master Association is by far the most litigious HOA in Southern California.

Trying to understand why the CZ Master Association is so litigious, we asked to inspect  its legal expense records.  The response we have gotten so far is typical Harkins/Keystone, meant to obfuscate.  In no uncertain terms we told Xochitl Yocham that if she is not willing to understand the issue, she is part of the problem.  We are waiting to hear from her.

Now a new angle on typical CID/HOA corruption was unveiled yesterday in an announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, in conjunction with 
Special Agent in Charge Laura A. Bucheit of the FBI’s Las Vegas Office, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Chief Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI):

 U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan of the District of Nevada sentenced Leon Benzer, 48, a former construction boss from Las Vegas to 188 months in prison for his role in a $58,141,275 million scheme to fraudulently gain control of condominium homeowners’ associations (HOAs) in the Las Vegas area to secure construction and other contracts for himself and others.  Forty-two individuals have been convicted of crimes in connection with the scheme.

“Leon Benzer recruited and paid off puppets to serve on homeowners’ boards so that they would steer lucrative contracts to his company and cronies,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  
According to Chief Weber.  “Benzer manipulated and bribed HOA boards in order to enrich himself and his co-conspirators at the expense of American taxpayers.  Not only did he try to hide the proceeds of his crimes in order to evade paying taxes, but he failed to pay his employment taxes.  
In connection with his guilty plea, Benzer admitted that, from approximately August 2003 through February 2009, he and an attorney developed a scheme to control the boards of directors of HOAs in the Las Vegas area.  According to plea documents, Benzer and his co-conspirators recruited straw buyers to purchase condominiums and secure positions on HOAs’ boards of directors.
 Benzer admitted that he paid the board members to take actions favorable to his interests, including hiring his co-conspirator’s law firm to handle construction-related litigation and awarding remedial construction contracts to Benzer’s company, Silver Lining Construction.
The case was investigated by the FBI, IRS-CI and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Section.  

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Charles La Bella and Trial Attorneys Thomas B.W. Hall and Alison Anderson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. 

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