Mike Chamberlain, from Nevada News & Views, reports on the recent developments in a multi-year saga that has impacted the construction defect litigation industry in Nevada:
A massive scandal involving attorneys and homeowners associations boards that may run deep into the legal community has produced the first of many expected plea bargains and convictions. The scams involved directing lucrative construction defect litigation cases and the repair work to favored attorneys and construction companies, defrauding homeowners, construction contractors and insurance companies of millions. FBI agents raided several law firms and construction companies nearly three years ago seeking evidence in this scandal.
Certain law firms allegedly conspired with accomplices to purchase homes in condominium developments. They would work to get individuals involved in the scheme elected to the HOA boards, often by rigging the elections. Then these boardmembers would work with the attorneys to file construction defect cases and award the resulting repair work to favored contractors.
Right now, the prosecution are slowly working their way through what may be over a hundred co-conspirators. As these supporting characters enter plea bargains, the evidence is mounting against the lead conspirators – Nancy Quon and Leon Benzer.
Nancy Quon is a fairly well-known personality in the Las Vegas area. She was the senior partner of a law firm that represented homeowner associations in construction defect claims. At one time, she even hosted her own TV show offering advice to homeowners and associations.
Leon Benzer used to run a construction company (in addition to other businesses, including a sandwich shop at the courthouse) which specialized in both destructive testing and construction defect repairs. It is alleged that millions of dollars from construction defect settlements were funneled through Benzer’s construction firm.
After the FBI raided Quon’s and Benzer’s offices a couple years ago, things started getting really weird. A former police officer implicated in the action committed suicide. Quon and her significant other were accused of attempting to commit insurance fraud relating to a seemingly made-for-TV saga believed to be part of an elaborate suicide pact.
There is much more to this story, and as federal prosecutors continue to make their case, much more will likely be revealed.
Full Disclosure: The firm I work for was retained by developers that built some of the projects involved in the scandal. I was involved in the construction defect investigations that occurred at some of these projects, but have no knowledge or information regarding the alleged crimes.