Construction manager pleads guilty in HOA probe

Article Courtesy of The Las Vegas Review-Journal

By Jeff German

Published December 17, 2012


A former construction company manager pleaded guilty Friday in the long-running federal investigation into fraud and corruption at Las Vegas Valley homeowners associations.

Dax Louderman, 40, is the 28th defendant convicted in the conspiracy to take over 11 home- owners associations between 2003 and 2009.

Louderman, who now lives in Illinois, pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion in a construction defect scheme from August 2008 to May 2009.

He acknowledged he failed to report more than $495,000 on his 2008 and 2009 tax returns that he was accused of stealing from his former company, Alpha 1 Construction, and the Stone Canyon Homeowners Association in Henderson.

Louderman also struck a deal with Clark County prosecutors to plead guilty to theft charges in the scheme. No plea date has been set.

According to his federal plea agreement, Louderman will pay $134,860 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Senior U.S. District Judge Lloyd George set a June 24 sentencing date.

Afterward, Louderman and his lawyer, Pete Christiansen, declined comment.

Louderman has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the high-profile homeowners association investigation, which became public in September 2008 when the FBI led raids across the valley.

He once worked for a company run by former construction boss Leon Benzer, who is alleged to have pulled the strings in the homeowners association conspiracy. Benzer, 45, who ran Silver Lining Construction, is a key target of the investigation, but he has not been charged.

At a hearing in federal court last month, Charles La Bella, a deputy chief of the Justice Department's Washington-based Fraud Section, said prosecutors were "on the eve" of a major indictment charging more conspirators.

La Bella, who put together Louderman's plea agreement, has been presenting evidence to a Las Vegas federal grand jury for several months and is looking to file charges against another dozen or so defendants, including more lawyers.

Prosecutors had targeted the end of the year for an indictment, but sources said the case has been pushed back into early next year.

Most of the 27 other defendants have pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and are cooperating with prosecutors.

Justice Department lawyers have said more than $8 million was funneled through secret bank accounts to fund the scheme, which allowed the conspirators to land lucrative legal, construction and community management contracts from the homeowners associations.

The conspirators, through election rigging and other tactics, stacked association boards with members who awarded them millions of dollars worth of contracts - at the expense of the homeowners, prosecutors have alleged.

Clark County prosecutors filed 13 felony theft charges against Louderman, accusing him of diverting money from Stone Canyon meant to go to an Alpha 1 bank account. He also is alleged to have double-billed Stone Canyon for repair work and charged for work that was never completed.

Stone Canyon is not one of the 11 homeowners associations tied to the construction defect scam allegedly involving Benzer.