Veteran Clark County prosecutor fired

Article Courtesy of The Las Vegas Review-Journal

By Jeff German

Published March 12, 2012

Victoria Villegas, a veteran Clark County prosecutor under federal scrutiny, has been fired.

"She's no longer with our office," District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Friday.

Wolfson would not confirm whether the longtime chief deputy district attorney was terminated, but he said her last day in the office was Tuesday.

Wolfson declined to discuss the reasons for her departure, and her lawyer, Adam Levine, declined comment.

Villegas, 51, once in the running to become Nevada's U.S. attorney, has attracted the attention of Justice Department attorneys spearheading the massive probe into fraud and corruption at Las Vegas Valley homeowners associations.

The allegations swirling around Villegas stem from the activities of her estranged husband, attorney David Amesbury, who pleaded guilty Oct. 24 in a scheme to take control of homeowners association boards with members who pushed for construction defect lawsuits against builders.

Amesbury, 57, who is cooperating in the investigation, also admitted participating in a separate scheme to defraud banks while seeking refinancing for the Courthouse Cafe, which he operated in the Regional Justice Center under a county contract with two partners, former construction company boss Leon Benzer and ex-Las Vegas police Lt. Benjamin Kim.

FBI agents and Las Vegas police suspect Villegas, who has been with the district attorney's office since May 1989, misled them about the extent of her knowledge of money loaned to the Courthouse Cafe, sources said.

The scheme, which occurred from October 2008 through July 2009, involved striking a secret deal to let an unidentified businessman handle the daily operations of the cafe without informing the county or the banks, according to court documents in Amesbury's case.

The businessman paid Amesbury and his partners $8,000 a month and kept any additional profits from the courthouse operation, the documents said.

Wolfson's predecessor, David Roger, sought to end Villegas' employment over possible abuse of family medical leave and not being truthful to law enforcement authorities when questioned about the Courthouse Cafe.

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