Las Vegas Sun

August 24, 2019

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NLV mayor hit with ethics complaint

North Las Vegas resident Chris Grant has filed a state ethics complaint against North Las Vegas Mayor Michael Montandon.

The complaint alleges the mayor broke ethics laws when he voted in favor of a controversial casino that will benefit his close friend and business partner.

The complaint heightens an already complicated application by Station Casinos to build a casino on the Craig Ranch Golf Course. The council last month unanimously voted in favor of the project, which would result in Station giving up its rights to an already-approved casino site at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Coralie Avenue.

The decision to approve the casino on the golf course is being appealed to the state Gaming Policy Committee Review panel by a group of residents, who, said spokeswoman Deborah Lewis, aren't surprised by the ethics complaint.

"Of course there is great concern if the mayor and Shawn Lampman are involved in a project together," Lewis said.

Lampman, a real estate agent with Las Vegas Gaming Investments, has represented the owners of the golf course -- Stimson Enterprises, Inc. -- each time items relating to the casino project have come before the planning commission or City Council.

Lampman also has held meetings with residents.

According to the complaint, Lampman plans to buy 36 acres on the golf course from the Stimson family and resell the land to Station for a profit. Station will then build a casino on the property.

When Montandon voted in favor of the casino on the golf course last month he disclosed that he and Lampman had been business partners but no longer have a business relationship.

Montandon, however, did not disclose their relationship in September 2000 when he voted to rezone 36 acres on the golf course to allow for the construction of a casino.

According to records filed with the secretary of state, Montandon and Lampman formed a limited liability company Feb. 4, 1999. The records list Montandon as the resident agent and Lampman as manager.

A little more than a week before they incorporated on Jan. 26, 1999, Montandon and Lampman -- as MMSL, LLC. -- entered into a land deal in which Nevada Electric Investment Company sold the pair 10 acres of land in Moapa Valley.

The two purchased the land for $262,000 and filed the deed Feb. 16, 1999, according to Clark County Assessor records.

The 10 acres in Moapa, which are vacant, have an assessed value of $49,000. Once improved the property will have an an assessed value of $140,000, according to county records. The land is zoned rural estates.

Montandon said last month that he entered into the LLC because he wanted to purchase a third of the property and did not have the money at the time.

Montandon said he didn't purchase the land, so he received no financial benefit from the partnership. He said the land deal was a one-time thing, and the two are no longer partners.

According to the complaint, Montandon and Lampman are admitted close friends who frequently ride dirt bikes and go camping together. They also play golf, have lunches and dinner together and are family friends, the complaint alleges.

Lampman acknowledged he and Montandon are friends but said they are no longer in business together. He said the reason the pair are still listed as partners is because they allowed the LLC to lapse.

"I don't hide anything," Lampman said. "I consider Mike a good friend. He (Montandon) signed over his interest in the land in August 1999."

He said he changed the information with the secretary of state in February after the land their company purchased cleared escrow so that Lampman could sell it to another party.

A check of the records Tuesday doesn't show the changes Lampman says he made and that the LLC remains current.

The complaint also alleges that Lampman, with the mayor's help, developed a plan to write and circulate petitions, which asked the council to move the casino to the golf course. Lampman presented the petitions to the council.

Lampman hired North Las Vegas resident Bob Borgersen, a friend and supporter of the mayor, to help with the petitions, according to the complaint. For $5 per signature Borgerson pretended to be part of a citizens' group that was circulating these petitions, according to the complaint.

Borgersen admits he was hired by Lampman but said he wouldn't have started a petition if he didn't believe in the cause. Borgersen says he was paid only $3 per signature, and he and his wife collected 5,000 signatures.

Grant said he filed the appeal last week after spending more than a month compiling information. He was concerned that no one was paying attention to the potential conflict.

"I'm sick and tired of elected officials flaunting their arrogance," he said.

He said he wasn't concerned in regard to how Montandon voted but rather with the fact the mayor failed to disclose the partnership sooner.

"It had nothing to do with the casino. It has to do with the fact that the law was broken," Grant said.

State Ethics Board Executive Director Polly Hamilton said that, in general, the respondent -- in this case the mayor -- will have 10 days to respond to the complaint. She will then conduct an investigation to determine whether a panel -- two of the eight members of the state's ethics committee -- should review the case and conduct a full hearing or dismiss it.