Article Courtesy of The Las Vegas
By Jeff German
October 4, 2015
Ex-dancer Stephanie Markham, left, walks with her
attorney Robert Langford arrives for court at Lloyd George U.S.
Courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Boulevard, on Monday, Sept. 28,2015. Markham
is charged in lying to the FBI and federal grand jury on her role in the
HOA fraud scheme, 2015
A federal jury convicted a former Strip dancer Wednesday of lying about
her role in the massive scheme to take over and defraud Las Vegas-area
|Following a three-day trial, the jury
took roughly an hour to find Stephanie Markham guilty of
three felony counts — making a false statement to the FBI,
perjury before a federal grand jury and obstruction of
U.S. District Judge James Mahan set Markham's sentencing for
Markham, 57, showed no emotion as the verdict was read, and
her lawyer, Robert Langford, said afterward he was
considering an appeal.
Markham, who once danced in the Lido de Paris production
show at the Stardust and with famed magicians Siegfried &
Roy, turned down a deal to plead guilty and took to the
Internet to raise money for her defense. She collected more
than $5,000 to, as she put it, "fight the big guys
She was the last
defendant in what is regarded as the largest public
corruption case federal authorities have brought in Southern
Nevada. A total of 42 other defendants either pleaded guilty
or were convicted at trial.
Ex-dancer Stephanie Markham, left, walks
with her attorney Robert Langford arrives for court at
Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Boulevard,
on Monday, Sept. 28,2015. Markham is charged in lying to
the FBI and federal grand jury on her role in the HOA
fraud scheme, 2015.
The investigation, which lasted nearly eight years, was overseen by the
Justice Department's Fraud Section in Washington. It became public in
September 2008 when the FBI, Las Vegas police and IRS conducted
In his closing argument Wednesday, Justice Department lawyer Thomas Hall
laid out a series of lies Markham told FBI Agent Michael Elliott and the
grand jury in 2012 to "cover her tracks" and obstruct the long-running
Some of the lies were contradicted by her own emails and those between
the lead conspirators, Hall said.
He asked jurors to use common sense as they waded through the evidence
the government piled up against Markham.
"The bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, is the truth matters," Hall
Markham's defense lawyer, Robert Langford, argued that Markham did not
willfully lie about her connection to the conspiracy and he questioned
the credibility of the government's key witnesses, all of whom struck
plea deals in return for lighter sentences.
Prosecutors alleged during the trial that Markham tried to cover up a 1
percent interest she received in a condominium at the Jasmine
development in June 2006.
She tried to run for a seat on the Jasmine HOA board, where former
construction company boss Leon Benzer, the takeover scheme's mastermind,
was trying to land a lucrative contract to do construction defect
repairs, according to prosecutors.
But Markham ended up backing out of the race after a lawyer for the
Jasmine HOA became suspicious of her candidacy and two other Benzer-backed
Benzer pleaded guilty and was sentenced earlier this year to 15½ years
in prison for directing the scheme, which prosecutors alleged targeted
roughly a dozen HOAs around the valley between 2003 and 2009.
Benzer packed HOA boards with "puppet" members through rigged elections
to gain control and obtain millions of dollars in construction repair
work, prosecutors alleged.