Criminal Justice

Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Elect Condo Board Members Favoring Construction Lawsuits

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A Las Vegas lawyer who once ran a courthouse restaurant has pleaded guilty in a scheme to take $3,000 in kickbacks to rig two condo board elections in Nevada.

David Amesbury, 57, is the first lawyer to plead guilty for his part in a wide-ranging scheme that has already resulted in guilty pleas by seven other defendants, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. All have agreed to testify against other, higher-level wrongdoers. The ongoing probe targets lawyers, judges and former police officers, the story says. The Associated Press and a press release also have details.

Federal prosecutors claim conspirators used straw buyers to buy properties in about a dozen condo communities from 2003 to 2009 and helped them win control of condo boards, AP says. According to the Review-Journal, prosecutors claim the straw buyers were elected through ballot rigging and dirty campaigns in which private investigators unearthed negative information about disfavored candidates. The newly elected board members then funneled legal work and repair contracts to lawyers and companies associated with the scheme.

In his plea agreement, Amesbury admitted he helped rig two condo association elections to elect board members who backed construction defect lawsuits. Ballots were sent to Amesbury’s law office, where he and other co-conspirators were able to assess how many fake ballots would be needed for their candidates to win, according to the press release.

Amesbury pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The bank fraud allegation concerns a separate scheme to obtain refinancing for his restaurant, the Review-Journal says.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 23.

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