HOA member accused of spying on & threatening residents
The newest entry into the HOA Hall of ShamePhoto: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The watchful eyes of the feds are falling on another Las Vegas homeowners association. Board members are accused of discrimination, spying, threatening residents and even carrying a gun.
The board's behavior has given Contact 13 its newest Hall of Shame member. Contact 13's Darcy Spears asks how far is too far for an HOA to go?
People say the First Light HOA used to be a fun place to live. But residents we spoke to say the laughter is dying. When Darcy asked a group of residents who was happy living there, not a one raised their hands.
On the flip side, every one of them raised their hands when Darcy asked how many of them felt it is an environment of tyranny, discrimination and fear. They say it's mostly because of Louis Austin, who sits on the First Light HOA Board.
"He basically stalked us, sat in front of our house," explained Paul Lispina.
"Any time you say anything against him, you can expect retaliation," said Sharon.
Austin is the treasurer of the First Light sub association and president of the Boulder Ranch Master. Residents accuse him of ruling the roost with an iron fist, abusing his authority, and making their home lives miserable.
"I used to enjoy coming home and walking and now I don't," said Darren Betz.
"It's a few people here it should be triple this amount of people because they're all going through it, but they're scared," said Hamp Banks.
Scared because of some allegations.
"I think that he's really scary because he keeps on stalking around the neighborhood taking pictures of kids," explained 10 year old Savannah Lispina.
"[I] had a friend that he had waved his gun at," said Gina Page.
Contact 13 obtained multiple internal reports from the association's own security guards going back over the past two years. Homeowners say Austin made them feel nervous and creeped out because he was taking pictures of kids playing and following residents. Security confirms that, writing "this is starting to be a pattern with this guy."
Security has also documented Austin cursing at residents, driving around with a 24-ounce can of Budweiser on his lap and getting into a verbal argument due to the fact that he had been drinking. There are complaints about towing cars for no reason and selectively giving parking stickers to people he likes.
"They say if they want to, they will terminate your stickers. It's a bunch of strong arming is what it is," said Wade Stephens.
Boulder Ranch is made up of three sub associations. First Light is one and High Noon is another. Austin has been formally trespassed from High Noon because he's made their business his business. He's accused of spying on residents with binoculars, taking pictures of them and generally interfering with association and security business.
It's all documented in a May 2012 letter from High Noon's attorney to Louis Austin. In addition, an email from their management company directs security to trespass him and residents to contact the police whenever Louis Austin enters the High Noon community.
"Police been out here for me five times. Each time they say he's crazy," said Hamp.
In September, Darren Betz and his girlfriend used a hidden camera to record their conversation with Austin about concerns that they're under surveillance.
"I worked security for 25 years. I know how to do stealthy maneuvers. I know how to catch people doing when they don't even know that I'm watching them," said Louis during the taped conversation.
"I've seen him lose his temper, yes. I've seen people come after him with baseball bats. I've seen people chase him into his garage," said Craig.
Craig sits with Austin on the Boulder Ranch Master Board.
"Ma'm I asked him to tone it down completely," said Craig.
He even says their community manager even gave a warning that if his behavior didn't change he would suggest that the board relieve him.
Contact 13 went to Austin's house to get his side of all this. We had to come back multiple times and with help from his wife, he finally agreed to talk along with First Light President Roger Eisel.
"We have a problem with nuisance, people being harassed," said Austin.
"They say you're the one doing the harassing, Louis," said Darcy.
"Well, yeah, ok, they can say what they want. I can go ahead and say that everybody here is a terrorist. Does it make it true? No," said Austin.
We asked him about taking pictures of children.
"As far as taking pictures of kids, I've got pictures of kids that have trespassed into the pool last week if you want to see them," said Austin.
Roger says the whole thing boils down to people who are unhappy about parking.
"They're used to living in kind of like a ghetto. Cars parked all over the street. Trash all over the place. We're trying to clean up the neighborhood," said Roger.
They say all they're doing is enforcing community rules and the people complaining are the rule breakers.
"And they're going to create their own script," said Austin.
"Would you say that the people that are talking to us are all liars," asked Darcy.
"Yeah," said Austin.
"All of them," asked Darcy.
"Yeah," said Darcy.
As for the accusations of carrying a gun, Austin says he does carry one.
He says he's never waived it at a neighbor. But in May 2007, Henderson Police arrested him for drawing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner in a road rage incident off HOA property. He called it self defense but says he was cited and sentenced to anger management classes.
"There's a lot of people that think you guys are the pinnacle, the most shameful HOA in the Valley. What do you say to that," asked Darcy.
"Well, you know what Muhammad Ali once said, if you want to make a difference, you gotta shake things up," said Austin.
Residents have tried shaking things up twice, holding recall elections that both failed because not enough people voted. Some have made complaints about discrimination to the Federal Fair Housing Office, which is actively investigating the First Light HOA.
Does your HOA belong in Contact 13's Hall of Shame? If so, send an email to email@example.com.