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FBI, police serve search warrants in corruption probe

Updated Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008 | 5:31 p.m.

A law enforcement task force served search warrants at homes, offices and clubs all across the Las Vegas Valley today as part of what might become a political corruption investigation.

The search warrants are seeking records and documents involving attorneys, homeowners associations and contractors.

FBI agents and Metro Police detectives began serving those warrants early this morning. One of the first businesses they visited was Benzer, an after-hours night club not far from the Palms Condominiums. An explosive device was used to blow open an iron gate, KLAS-TV Channel 8 reported.

The officers and agents served warrants at nine locations, FBI spokesman David Staretz told the Associated Press. He said the investigation is ongoing.

Leon Benzer, owner of the nightclub, also owns Silver Lining Construction, which was also served with search warrants.

The construction company has ties to Vistana, a Rhodes Ranch development.

Vistana homeowners sued Rhodes Ranch and got a $19 million settlement to repair faulty construction, including no flashing on homes and plumbing installed backwards, said Steve Wark, former board member of the Vistana Homeowners Association.

Wark, a political consultant, said his term on the board expired last year and he did not run for another term. He said he agreed to serve on the board because he is a long-time friend of Benzer. Wark and Benzer are business partners in a wastewater treatment venturee, Wark said.

Wark said he learned a lot about relationships between local attorneys and homeowners associations. Attorneys compete to serve a homeowners' association, he said.

"It's very competitive between attorneys and it's very competitive among contractors," Wark said.

Wark said he had not been contacted by the FBI or police. "The first time I heard of it was on Channel 8," Wark said.

At this time, search warrants are still being served.

In addition to the club and construction companies, Benzer is also a majority owner of the Courthouse Café and has a line of tequila, Benzila Tequila, made at Benzer's 1,400-acre farm in Baja, Mexico.

Benzer is also known as a philanthropist, especially when it comes to raising funds for children with autism.

Metro Police referred media calls to the FBI. The FBI did not elaborate on the enforcement activities.

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