LAS VEGAS -- A pair of attorneys and two former Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers were among those who entered guilty pleas Thursday in connection with a massive conspiracy involving local homeowner associations.
The 8 News NOW I-Team broke the story almost four years ago about a law enforcement probe into political corruption within local HOA's, and the case finally came to a head for 14 defendants.
The guilty pleas bring the grand total to 25 people who say they are guilty of participating in a massive multi-million dollar conspiracy to seize control of a dozen local HOA's. So many defendants agreed to plead guilty that Federal Judge Jim Mahan needed two separate court sessions to process them all.
Among those who admitted their guilt was a highly-regarded former Metro police captain Frank Sutton, who told the judge he helped take control of three different HOA boards.
Lisa Kim, the wife of Metro Lt. Ben Kim is another defendant. She ran Platinum Services, one of the largest property management companies in the valley, which managed several HOA's which had been corrupted by other co conspirators.
After pleading guilty to fraud and another felony, she chided the I-Team for asking her questions.
"You guys should be ashamed of yourself," she said.
In documents that were unsealed Thursday, Prosecutor Charles Labella described multiple bank accounts that had been set up as part of the conspiracy -- accounts which saw $8 million pass through them as part of a scheme to buy condos and thus qualify straw buyers to run for the HOA boards.
Those corrupted boards then directed their HOA's to hire a construction company headed by Leon Benzer to perform millions of dollars worth of repairs -- work that was never done.
While 25 people have now entered guilty pleas, the case is not over. Federal prosecutors told the court today it is an ongoing investigation and that they plan to work through the summer to prepare indictments they expect to unveil in the fall.
Four people who were considered targets of the probe have died since it began, including principal target attorney Nancy Quon. Benzer, the construction company owner, has not yet been charged but is believed to be the top target still on the feds radar screen.