For many, homeowners associations likely conjure up images of boring meetings and lawn requirements, but some Las Vegas homeowners associations have been plagued by scandal.
An attorney named in a federal corruption investigation was found dead by hanging on Sunday night, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, less than a week after another attorney in the same investigation was found dead in her bathtub. The police are treating the deaths as suicides. (h/t Business Insider.)
David Amesbury, the 57-year-old defense lawyer that was found dead on Sunday, had agreed in October to plead guilty to charges that he had been involved in a homeowner association corruption scheme, according to the Associated Press. Amberson had been among ten defendants who took plea deals and were awaiting sentencing. Nancy Quon, a 51-year-old construction defect lawyer, was found dead in her bathtub last week before prosecutors could indict her, according to the AP and Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Defendants in the probe have admitted to taking over homeowner association boards through rigged elections and using "straw buyers" to buy homes in the Las Vegas area, according to the AP. Prosecutors claim that the co-conspirators on the homeowner association boards awarded contracts to preferred firms, the AP reports.
The body count in the scheme has now reached three. Christopher Van Cleef, a retired police officer, shot himself to death with a gun in September 2008 when his name surfaced in the investigation, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The homeowner association scheme comes in a region that has been hit particularly hard by the housing crisis. Nevada has an extremely high foreclosure rate with one out of every 278 houses receiving a foreclosure filing in February 2012, according to RealtyTrac. And all those foreclosures are likely weighing on home values. Las Vegas home prices, which were already suffering, hit new lows in January 2012, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index of home prices.