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Developer accused of fraud taking a few hits

Life is not getting any easier for bankrupt Pahrump developer Hans Seibt who, according to court records, has received threats of bodily harm.

Seibt’s attorney, claiming he hasn’t been paid, is withdrawing from the case, and a U.S. Bankruptcy Court investigator continues to pore over Seibt’s financial records looking for evidence of fraud.

FBI agents this week also were hot on the trail of Seibt’s convoluted business dealings in their efforts to build a criminal case against him. When Seibt filed for bankruptcy protection in September, several hundred of his investors, many of them retirees, lost their life savings. He listed more than $50 million in liabilities.

And if all of this isn’t enough, Lenard Schwartzer, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court trustee overseeing Seibt’s case, will get a crack at grilling him under oath June 8.

The switch is on at the Regional Justice Center.

Courthouse administrators are shutting down an outdated management system for civil cases this weekend and installing high-tech software that ultimately should make the courts more accessible to lawyers and the public.

The clerk’s office stopped scanning documents into the old system Tuesday in preparation for the transition.

Ed Friedland, the court’s executive officer, sent a memo this week to judges and lawyers notifying them that the new case management system should be in place Monday.

Friedland says some glitches with the user-friendly system have been reported, but he expects it should function as designed.

He’ll be keeping his fingers crossed this weekend.

Federal firearms agents have the formula down pat: Get control of a local tattoo parlor, put some undercover operatives to work inside, and buy drugs and weapons from street criminals under the watchful eye of video cameras.

The formula worked in Las Vegas last year, when agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested about two-dozen people after a 15-month sting, dubbed Operation Sin City Ink, at the Hustler Tattoo Shop on Highland Drive.

It worked in Augusta, Ga., a year earlier, where more than four-dozen suspects were indicted on drug and weapons charges after a 16-month undercover operation, called Operation Augusta Ink, at the Colur Tyme Tattoo Parlor.

And it worked in Las Cruces, N.M., last week, as agents announced they had rounded up 30 people, some linked to drug traffickers in Mexico, after a nine-month weapons sting at the West Coast Tattoo shop.

Tom Chittum, one of two resident agents in charge of the Las Vegas ATF office, says the investigations are not related, but they have the same goal in mind — take the worst criminals off the streets.

“We pride ourselves on being proactive and going after violent criminal offenders in the community,” Chittum said.

In Operation Sin City Ink, federal prosecutors have been fending off a series of defense attacks on the propriety of the local undercover sting, including allegations ATF agents unlawfully used drugs during the investigation.

The ATF denies the allegations, and a federal magistrate recently told defense attorneys at a hearing that he wasn’t impressed with their claims of outrageous government misconduct.

The judge is still considering the complaints.

Thanks to a pair of donated mountain bikes, county marshals have been cracking down on a run of visitors improperly parking in handicapped-accessible spaces on the grounds of Family Court.

Marshals have been able to cover more ground patrolling the expansive Family Court campus with the bikes.

Officials say the marshals have written 35 citations, carrying $11,000 in fines, in the past four months.

The actions have been hailed by local legal advocates for the disabled.

Jeff German can be reached

at 474-7406 or at german

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Author:Jeff German
Publication:Las Vegas Sun
Date:Apr 24, 2009
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