Homeowners speak out after Paradise Spa HOA raided by authorities
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) – Three months after a Contact 13 investigation into Paradise Spa, the homeowners association on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip went from ‘Hall of Shame' member to target of a law enforcement raid.
Thursday morning at Paradise Spa started out simply, with a meeting to elect new members of the HOA board.
"And then all of a sudden, I'm in the middle of the meeting and I see this parade of cars," recalls Bill O'Donnell. "And I'm like, who's that? And somebody yelled out, it's the FBI."
The FBI and State Attorney General, with help from Metro, served search warrants at the Paradise Spa HOA office and the commercial real estate office across the street. They confiscated hard drives, a cell phone, and other electronic equipment.
Jim Pazargad owns the real estate company and is president of the HOA board. He was handcuffed briefly during the raid but was later let go.
"They let me go and they said the reason they're doing this is the association has been under investigation by the Attorney General. I said that's fine. They said it's regarding the money that came from the insurance company to rebuild those two burned buildings."
Two buildings burned in two fires in 2010. As Action News first reported in December, HOA Board Treasurer Aaron Yashoafar, a Beverly Hills millionaire whose companies own most of the Paradise Spa units, collected nearly $1 million in insurance money but didn't repair the buildings where some unit owners are still paying a mortgage.
Darcy Spears: Where did that money go?
"Let me tell you something about that money," says Pazargad last December. "I've never seen that check. I'm saying right to you on the camera. I never have seen the check. Check was delivered to Los Angeles to Aaron's office--handed to him."
Now, it seems there's even more missing money, according to former state senator and Paradise Spa homeowner Bill O'Donnell.
Darcy Spears: We reported on one missing insurance check. You recently learned that there was another.
"I learned that there was a $434,000 insurance check that was delivered to Aaron Yashoafar, who signed for it on February 11, 2010, over a year ago. And the buildings are still not repaired."
Where the money went is what O'Donnell asked the Real Estate Division to investigate in a complaint he filed nearly a year ago. In December, the state told Contact 13 that if it found criminal activity at Paradise Spa, the case would go to the attorney general.
"There is no criminal activity here. I promise you there is not," Pazargad insists.
Darcy Spears: It doesn't look good.
"Well, I know it doesn't look good."
And it apparently looked bad enough for the Real Estate Division to involve the attorney general. Pazargad, however, is still passing the buck to Yashoafar.
"I told him, I advised him. I said listen, you're in deep trouble. And you're going to get us in trouble. Please come forward and put that money back."
If the money to fix the burned buildings is finally turned over, Iris Hokanson will be able to move back into the unit where she's already paying a mortgage but can't live.
"I don't know what to think about it except that there are a bunch of crooks in here," she said last December.
She watched Thursday with a big smile on her face in anticipation of justice being served somewhere down the line.
"Oh, I'm loving it. I'm loving it! This is really something."
Contact 13 called Yashoafar in Los Angeles but he didn't return our calls. Residents say, in addition to keeping the insurance money, he also hasn't been paying HOA dues on the more than 200 units his companies own.
"He still won't give the books and records over to either the Ombudsman or us or anyone and so something nefarious is going on," says Bill O'Donnell.
Sadilia Foster agrees. She's got even more to worry about after finding an eviction notice on her door just six days after paying rent to the office authorities raided.
"Where am I going to live if I lose my apartment? I mean, I paid my rent and why am I faced with an eviction? That's what I want to know."
Darcy Spears: You're wondering what they did with your money.
"Yes. I've always wondered that."
We'll all have to wonder for awhile longer since neither the FBI nor the attorney general are talking while the investigation is ongoing.