Friday, Oct. 21, 2011 | 1:16 p.m.
A seventh person pleaded guilty Friday in connection with an alleged scheme to fraudulently control homeowners’ associations, federal authorities said.
Mary Ann Watts, 64, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in a hearing before U.S. District Judge James Mahan, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Watts’ case is part of an alleged scheme to control condominium homeowners associations in Las Vegas so the board could select a certain law firm and construction company when dealing with construction lawsuits, the department said.
The co-conspirators would pay straw buyers to obtain loans for properties and run for HOA boards and would use deceitful tactics to win board elections, including using false phone surveys to gather information on voters, the department alleged. They would also submit fake or forged ballots, the department said.
In addition, they hired attorneys as “special election master” to run elections. The attorneys were paid for rigging the elections, the department said.
Once the conspirators were on the board, they would manipulate votes, use fake bids for contracts and pay community managers and attorneys for information, the department said.
Watts admitted to participating in rigging an election in the Vistana community and helped to set up a management company for the HOA boards at Vistana, Chateau Versailles, Chateau Nouveau and other condominium complexes, the department said.
She was given free housing and was paid for her participation, the department said.
Sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 20. The maximum sentence for the charges is 30 years in prison.