Las Vegas Sun

August 28, 2014

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Man sentenced in embezzlement of Las Vegas developer

A man who conspired to embezzle millions from Turnberry Associates, which owns several Las Vegas properties, was sentenced today to more than four years in prison.

Rocco Lazazzaro, 55, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy of wire fraud. In addition to his prison sentence, he was ordered to pay $3.7 million in restitution, said Daniel Bogden, U.S. attorney for the district of Nevada.

Lazazzaro conspired with Hope Ippoliti, 51, the former controller of Turnberry Associates, to steal more than $3.7 million from the company and its affiliates. The company is responsible for Town Square, Turnberry Towers and Residences at MGM among other Las Vegas properties.

Ippoliti created fund transfer requests using false information that it would be used for business purposes, Bogden said. Instead, she and Lazazzaro planned to use it for personal use.

They then caused the transfer of funds to go through Bank of America accounts, which Ippliti had signatory authority over. They deposited and cashed the checks out of the account, Bogden said.

Turnberry Associates lost a combined $5.6 million. Lazazzaro pleaded guilty to being directly involved in $3.7 million of that total, Bogden said. Lazazzaro used the money for gambling and drugs, Bogden said.

Lazazzaro has four prior felony convictions and multiple misdemeanor convictions that involve violence or threats of violence using fire, knives or blunt objects. In 1986, he was convicted of five robberies and an assault while on probation for a grand theft conviction, and received 10 to 20 years in prison.

He was discharged from parole one year before the Turnberry embezzlement, Bogden said.

Ippoliti pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 19.

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