Yes, I’ve moved this blog over to my main website, NeighborsAtWar.com I appreciate everyone’s help and comments on this blog over the past year, but please put your comments on the new website. You’ll see a lot more content there, and your own comments will have a much wider audience.
Tag Archives: Las Vegas HOA Corruption Investigation
It’s not often that the lowly homeowner has much of a chance of getting a fair hearing in court. The vast majority of all rulings are against the homeowner and in favor of the private non-profit corporation. And many’s the judge who’s told a miserable homeowner that he or she should have read his covenants before signing the real estate documents.
Last week’s ruling, though, by the Supreme Court of Virginia was a clarion call to the National Homeowners Association Movement that it can’t stomp on the homeowner’s Constitutional rights forever. Basically the court ruled that the Shadowood Condominium complex in Reston, Virginia cannot assess fines against residents because there was no such permission granted in the development’s master deed. Bam! Pow!
Stone-faced attorneys in Virginia said the ruling will have a profound impact on 10,000 Homeowners Associations across Virginia. It certainly will have a profound impact on lawyers who make a fancy living from dragging homeowners into court over stupid covenant violations.
Just reading about the wrongdoing by certain Shadowood officials over the years is enough to make one weep. Millions of dollars spent on ‘improvements’ with no accounting oversight. Tens of thousands of dollars paid to certain HOA board members for ‘services rendered’. Towing cars right before Thanksgiving. Turning off the heat and air conditioning to ‘punish’ rule-breakers. It’s ugly, and I’ve linked to the Washington Post’s story below.
Law professor Evan McKenzie predicted in his last book, Beyond Privatopia, that Homeowners Associations were going to face a day of reckoning. He was precognizant, a man of real genius.
Folks, the mightiest dam in the world can collapse. The collapse, no matter how large, starts out with a microscopic fissure somewhere.
This dam has not yet collapsed.
But it will.
LOL! Forgive me, but I’m corrupt enough to use any kind of inflammatory headline to get you to read deeper. And no, of course you are not dummies…UNLESS you refuse to consider signing the petition to the White House composed by George Staropoli, a man who is a giant in the world of HOA reason and Constitutionalism.
The left is all abuzz about a few on the right who are proposing seceeding from the Republic because of the results of the last election. First, those well-meaning people have an absolute right to propose secession to express their opinion. Second, secession won’t work, that’s what national elections are all about. If you don’t like it, vote for someone new in the next election. Just change it.
But the third point is a whopper! And it took someone of Staropoli’s clear-headed thinking to come up with it.
Homeowners Associations, as private non-profit corporations, preside over traditional neighborhoods, acting exactly like traditional governments. They impose taxes, create laws that govern private behavior, exert police power or police-like power, levy fines, and often seize and auction the homes of tragic ‘miscreants’ who don’t understand the de-fact powers possessed by Homeowners Associations.
Folks, whether you accept it or not, Homeowners Associations have already seceeded from the Union. That’s right! They constitute a parallel government that often operates outside the confines of traditional Constitutionally controlled government. And that’s scary.
Across the country there are thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of cases where HOAs have taken thuggish legal action against homeowners for no other reason than they are black, oriental, hispanic, gay, single, female or handicapped. Federal discrimination laws be damned!
So, to bring this full circle: George Staropoli is circulating a petition to the White House to try to show the growing movement of homeowners who’ve educated themselves and become concerned about this “Shadow Government.” It is definitely a matter of concern. 20% of our populace now lives in neighborhoods where a member cannot rely on traditional Constitutional protections.
So, Dummy! Click on the link below, and SIGN THE PETITION!
Homeowners usually get the raw end of the deal when they try to fight the “Bigs” in the HOA industry. Some Homeowners in California are trying to turn that trend around. An HOA in Riverside County has sued three former property managers for “fraud, conspiracy to defraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty.” They had employed the management companies for eight years.
Canyon Lake Association then sued its own law firm, Fiore, Racobs & Powers, accusing them of “fraud and malpractice.” They say a lengthy investigation found “no cash management, no separation of accounting duties, credit card abuse by employees, employee salary increases that were not approved by the board.”
The lawsuit further claims that three HOA managers “created and concealed a secret, systemic pattern of conversion and theft of (HOA) assets and funds…and made representations to the board that were not true and were a cover up designed..to delay discovery of the cover-up.”
By the way, this information comes to us from the CCHAL organization in California. It’s dedicated to helping out the “tiny mice” in the HOA movement, and it’s an outstanding organization that every homeowner should join.
One final thought comes to mind here. We haven’t heard much from the federal investigators in Las Vegas. We hope the widespread corruption they found in the Vegas HOA industry hasn’t depressed them to the point that they want to throw in the towel. Actually, we hope the opposite is true. We hope they take a look around the country and discover that the legal scams in Las Vegas are as identical and numerous as the legal scams in Riverside County, and Modesto, and Weld County, Colorado. and Dallas and Houston and Miami, and North Carolina.
If you don’t think it’s happening in your own community, you are either naive or dumber than a box of rocks. When we signed those CC&Rs, we stepped into an entirely new form of government with no checks and no balances. We essentially told law firms and property managers, “It’s OK to steal from us.” And then we whine when they steal from us. What gives?
Ward Lucas, author of Neighbors At War! The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association
Nebraska Senator Mike Schneider is asking the governor to call a special session of the legislature to pass new laws against Homeowner Association fraud. He says he’s been reading a blog on the Las Vegas scandal and he doesn’t like the kind of comments being made about suicides committed by suspects indicted in the HOA scandal. (Hmmm, I wonder which blog he’s talking about!)
He does note that out of the first ten suspects named in the massive federal investigation of Las Vegas HOA corruption, four committed suicide. One of the suicides was committed by lawyer David Amesbury. Investigators say he hanged himself from a rafter in his brother’s barn. This was after he was severely beaten and his knees crushed on a street inside a gated Nevada HOA. His suicide seems horribly suspicious. His family doesn’t believe it. This blogger doesn’t believe it. In fact, this blogger is predicting more “suicides” among the increasing number of indicted suspects, especially those who work out plea bargains with prosecutors.
The “suicide” of lawyer Nancy Quon is another weird one. Her whole story is weird. Anyone just reading a few facts about Quon’s story could easily appreciate a new Clancy novel about the case. It’s great fiction, just great fiction.
But Senator Schneider says this kind of publicity is bad for Las Vegas because people think “the Mob” is back in the city killing witnesses. He thinks a new law against HOA corruption would improve the city’s image. He decries the fact that rigged HOA elections are egregious and that they amount to a legalized shakedown of insurance companies.
Senator Schneider is right about one thing. There absolutely have to be some legislative changes to fight this kind of corruption. But he doesn’t take into consideration is that Las Vegas HOAs are not unique. The same kind of corruption is endemic in HOAs across America. The very structure of Homeowners Associations puts them in a position where corruption by board members, managers and attorneys is almost encouraged. There are no double-checks, there are no controls, there’s nothing to stop corruption in most of these gated neighborhoods.
It’s sad, but any new state law against Homeowner Association corruption is simply not going to work. There are already statutes against organized crime. That’s what’s allowing the U.S. Attorney to bring these HOA indictments in the first place. The only new law that would have any kind of impact is a federal law that gives homeowners back their access to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The Constitution created all sorts of double checks on government excesses. But people who buy HOA homes sign away their access to the Bill of Rights. Give those rights back, take away the power of HOA boards to arbitrarily fine, sue and foreclose on homes for minor violations and you might actually see some real change.
BTW, credit is due reporter Nathan Baca of KLAS-TV 8 News in Las Vegas for interviewing Senator Schneider and getting this story out to the public.
The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that 14 more people have taken plea bargains in the FBI’s HOA corruption investigation. That brings the total to 24. This four year investigation has taken way too long, far longer than most. But after its bumpy start, federal agents really started homing in on the fraudsters who’ve cheated so many Las Vegas homeowners and stolen their home equity, costing them their life savings and their homes.
The real tragedy of winding this investigation up early is that hundreds of homeowners who lost their homes will sit and wonder, “what to do?” They’ve been cheated of their entire life savings. But they don’t know who to contact to try to get it back.
Four of the suspects have actually met justice of some sort, committing suicide before they could actually face the music in court. That continues to be a very weird part of this investigation, how four prominent public figures could suddenly “off” themselves. One of them, attorney David Amesbury, was beaten, both of his knees crushed before he “decided” to commit suicide in his brother’s barn. Another was Nancy Quon, who funneled hundreds of millions of dollars worth of construction defect litigation to just two Nevada legal firms. Nancy Quon also showed up dead…in her bathtub. Again….real suspicious.
At any rate, the Review-Journal reports on the 14 new indictments of people who arranged to seat phony boards in Las Vegas Homeowner Associations and then take part in a series of fraudulent actions against homeowners.
Again, most of the latest round of criminal charges seem minor. For participating in this 100 million dollar scam, most of these folks will get probation, or at most a few months in jail. Just think of that: for murdering the financial future of thousands of homeowners, they get just a few months in jail at the most.
The fourteen new indictments are interesting.They include at least one attorney. At least the federal suit possibly opens a way for abused homeowners to file their own lawsuits against the bad guys. For homeowners who’ve lost every dime they have, though, it’s cost prohibitive to file such a lawsuit. Lawyers on both sides realize that they’ll be the only ones to profit, if anyone. There’s an arrogance among criminal and defense lawyers who are already talking about how to lower or eliminate potential prison time for these slime bags.
But where are the Judges, the politicians, the major Las Vegas figures who the feds promised to indict? I just hope they’re not ending this investigation too soon.
Mr. Big still hasn’t been indicted. He’s pretty slick with lots of high powered legal help. We’ll see, we’ll see.
(NOTE TO THE FEDS: Absolutely every city in the country has a nearly identical scandal going on. We love what you’re doing in Las Vegas, but if you quit there, many homeowners will pray that you’ll rot in your graves.)
Federal investigators trying to squeeze the corruption out of Las Vegas Homeowners Associations are just dying (or at least their clients are). How can you run an investigation when your chief witnesses keep ending up drowning in bathtubs, hanging from barn rafters.
Suddenly, swindlers who agreed to rat out fellow conspirators are getting nervous. They’re telling their own attorneys to walk back previous confessions.
But a wilder thing happens when civil lawyers try to bully their way into the feds’ investigation. They start filing civil lawsuits against the chief witnesses in the federal investigation. Those witnesses realize for the first time they’ll be tied up in the courts for years. Offers from the feds to “protect” their witnesses start ringing hollow. And witnesses start acting like rats on the Titanic.
So much corruption. And any ability for the feds to prosecute Organized Crime in the HOA system, begins to fade. It just fades away.
All that work, and entire investigations can just turn to…dust.