Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Please pardon the neglect of this blog. 
I am running for congress to represent Utah's District 4 in 2018. My election will be good for Utah and good for community associations.

Check out my webpage www.Marla4congress.com.  Please like my Face Book Page https://www.facebook.com/mlmsb/

Thank you all!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Lincoln W. Hobbs
Lincoln Hobbs
The firm of Hobbs and Olson Carpenter and Hazlewood are presenting two seminars on Legal Trends In Community Associations.
  • The first is Friday, May 12, from 12 to 1:30 at Salt Lake City Marriott City Center, 220 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. Click to register.
  • The second is Saturday, May 13 from 12 to 1:30 at the Newpark Resort, 1456 Newpark Boulevard, Park City, UT 84098 . Click to register.
The seminars are free and lunch is included. Time permitting there will be a "lighting round" Q&A.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


 Only 25 spots
To register contact:
Marla Mott-Smith Bowers
Or call 801-231-5793

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

HOA Fraud Scheme Trial

Witness: HOA fraud scheme drove Leon Benzer to desperate measures



Leon Benzer was desperate for money in the summer of 2007, as he struggled to keep alive the massive scheme to take over and defraud homeowners associations, his former right-hand man testified Tuesday.

Benzer pulled out all stops to win a $7.2 million construction defect contract from the Vistana HOA, where he owned the majority of the board members, the community management firm and the legal counsel, according to Ralph Priola.

At the time, Priola told a federal jury, Benzer was shelling out $50,000 a month in mortgage payments for straw buyers participating in the scheme and thousands of dollars more to those he got elected to HOA boards around town to do his bidding.

To keep the illegal operation going, Benzer had taken out “hard money” loans, using the building that housed his construction company as collateral and had refinanced his home, Priola said.

Federal prosecutors introduced evidence through Priola Tuesday that showed the desperate measures Benzer took with the help of one of his lawyers, Keith Gregory, whom he had installed as general counsel at Vistana.

The evidence came on the second day of Priola’s testimony in the trial of four remaining defendants, including Gregory, in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge James Mahan.

The other defendants are Benzer’s half-sister Edith Gillespie, a ballet teacher who prosecutors say was a straw buyer recruiter in the scheme; Salvatore Ruvolo, who is accused of being a straw buyer and controlled HOA board member at Park Avenue and Chateau Nouveau; and David Ball, a real estate agent Benzer is alleged to have gotten elected to the Chateau Nouveau board.

Defense lawyers contend the four defendants were not part of the multimillion-dollar scheme and consider themselves victims of Benzer.

On cross-examination from defense lawyers Tuesday, Priola admitted that he led a life of lies while helping Benzer carry out the scheme during its height between 2006 and 2008. “I lied a lot,” Priola said. “It was all a lie.”

But he insisted that he was not lying on the witness stand, though he has a guilty plea agreement with prosecutors that could lead to a sentence of home confinement or probation if prosecutors are satisfied with his testimony.

Priola and Benzer are among 37 defendants who have pleaded guilty in the scheme since August 2011. Benzer does not have a cooperation agreement with the government but is listed as a trial witness for the government.

On Tuesday, Priola testified that he and Benzer held secret meetings with Gregory and Vistana board members, including well-known political consultant Steve Wark, in September 2007 to map out a strategy to get Benzer the $7.2 million construction defect contract.

Part of that strategy was getting the corrupt board members to hold an emergency meeting to award Benzer’s Silver Lining Construction Company $1.35 million in “mobilization” funds to begin the process of taking care of the repairs that were needed.

But Benzer planned to spend the money on the scheme, rather than the repairs, Priola testified.
“I’m in real jeopardy of losing my building I’ve owned for years,” Benzer told Gregory in an email before the emergency Vistana vote.

Benzer had another lawyer, the late David Amesbury, threaten litigation against the homeowners to make sure the vote went his way, according to Priola. He also had a well-known construction defect attorney, John Leach, speak at the meeting in support of awarding the mobilization money.

Benzer and Leach did not have a good relationship, but in return for Leach’s help, Benzer promised to help him get money he was owed for legal work at another HOA, Priola said.

Days after Vistana awarded Silver Lining Construction the $1.35 million, Priola testified, Benzer gave Gregory a $10,000 check and then another $2,000 check a month later.

During this time, Gregory was also billing Benzer for legal work setting the stage for the mobilization vote and being paid to represent Vistana as its general counsel, according to records prosecutors presented to the jury.

After Silver Lining Construction got the rest of the $7.2 million, the company did as little construction defect work as possible so Benzer could keep more money for himself, Priola said.
Priola told the jury he quit working for Benzer after September 2008 raids across the valley in the long-running investigation led by the FBI and Las Vegas police. Priola’s home was searched in the raids.
Contact reporter Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter