Key player in HOA scheme gets 30 months

in federal prison

Article Courtesy of The Las Vegas Review-Journal

By Jeff German   

Published July 23, 2015


Charles McChesney, a key player in the scheme to take over and defraud Las Vegas Valley homeowners associations, was sentenced Monday to 30 months in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge James Mahan also ordered McChesney to pay a share of $100,000 in restitution and serve three years of supervised release after prison.

McChesney apologized to Mahan and said he regretted his participation in the massive takeover conspiracy.

"It"s something that grew over time, and as it grew I grew with it," McChesney said.

Mahan told McChesney his background as a private investigator and bail bondsman made him a "dangerous member of the conspiracy."

He gave McChesney until Oct. 23 to surrender to federal prison authorities.

McChesney pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy and three wire fraud counts, all felonies, and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors. He is among the last of more than 40 defendants being sentenced in the long-running investigation, which became public in September 2008 with FBI-led raids across the Las Vegas Valley.


Charles McChesney exits the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas on Monday, July 20, 2015. McChesney pleaded guilty to conspiracy and three wire fraud accounts and will serve 30 months.

Former construction company boss Leon Benzer, the man behind the massive takeover scheme, is to be sentenced before Mahan on Aug. 6.

Benzer, 47, who pleaded guilty without a cooperation agreement, provided a lengthy explanation in his plea deal of his leadership in the multimillion-dollar takeover scheme between 2003 and 2009.

The sweeping HOA investigation, spearheaded by the Justice Department‘??s Fraud Section in Washington, is thought to be the largest public corruption case federal authorities have brought in Southern Nevada.

Prosecutors have alleged that McChesney, 49, was a straw buyer and controlled board member at the Chateau Nouveau HOA, one of a dozen targeted by Benzer in the takeover conspiracy.

Through election rigging and other dirty tricks, the conspirators packed association boards with members who voted to award and hand out construction defect contracts to Benzer worth millions of dollars at the expense of the homeowners.

In court papers, prosecutors had sought a 46-month sentence for McChesney because of his prominent role in the scheme.

Prosecutors alleged McChesney was a key leader in Benzer‘s push to obtain a multimillion-dollar construction defect contract at Chateau Nouveau, which had as many as seven controlled board members during the life of the conspiracy.

"At times defendant McChesney served as traffic controller for this large and sometimes uncooperative set of of co-conspirators, making sure they received orders from higher levels of the conspiracy and making sure they followed those orders," prosecutors wrote.

McChesney also served as the scheme‘s "enforcer," using intimidation to keep co-conspirators in line, according to prosecutors.

And he played an important role in helping Benzer steal $450,000 from the Vistana HOA after the takeover scheme was exposed by authorities, prosecutors said. Benzer had previously obtained more than $7 million from Vistana in construction defect work that was either done poorly or not done at all.