LAS VEGAS -- The federal grand jury indicted the former controller for Turnberry West Realty and an accomplice on charges that they stole nearly $6 million from the company over five years, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said Wednesday.
Hope Ippoliti, 51, and Rocco Lazazzaro, 54, both of Las Vegas, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 24 counts of wire fraud in an indictment returned on Dec. 19. Lazazzaro appeared before a federal magistrate on Friday and was detained pending trial. Ippoliti is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Johnston Wednesday afternoon.
According to the indictment, Ippoliti was the western regional controller for Turnberry West Realty, a suibsidiary of Turnberry Associates. The company owned or developed the Residences at MGM, Town Square shopping center, Turnberry Place, Turnberry Towers Condominiums and the Stirling Club in Las Vegas.
As controller, Ippoliti had access to certain Turnberry bank accounts. Between May 17, 2007, and last Jan. 12, Ippoliti allegedly created fund transfer requests that she faxed or emailed from Nevada to Turnberry Associates in Florida that caused company funds to be placed into bank acocunts she controlled. She allegedly falsely claimed that the fund transfers were for Turnberry business expenses but actually intended to withdraw the money to benefit herself and Lazazzaro.
It was also alleged that in February Lazazzaro attempted to use force, violence and fear to extort more money from Turnberry Associates through Ippoliti.
If convicted, they each face a maximum 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines on each fraud count. Lazazzaro also faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on charges of one count of attempted interference with commerce by threats and violence. The defendants are also subject to forfeiture to cover the estimated $5.7 million loss.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Brown.