Clark County District Judge-elect Crystal Eller confirms she was served Thursday by Las Vegas Metro Police with a grand jury subpoena for documents, and she says she believes Judge Bill Kephart, who she narrowly defeated in November, is behind the effort.
“I think he’s so narcissistic that he thinks if I get indicted, he’ll get appointed to the seat,” Eller told the Current on Friday.
Eller was named in October as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by homeowners across the country who allege she defrauded them in 2014 when she accepted thousands of dollars for loan modifications.
The civil suit alleges Eller teamed with Prodigy Fulfillment Center, which charged $6,000 and more for a “forensic audit” and legal review of the audit to determine if a client’s loan documents contained flaws that would allow them to eliminate their home loan via court proceedings.
Nevada law allows attorneys to charge up front in an effort to obtain a loan modification, but the suit alleges Eller deposited funds collected by Prodigy, which was unlicensed and prohibited by law from collecting money in advance.
“If they took money up front, that had nothing to do with me,” Eller said.
Eller admits she performed the legal reviews of the audits and never reported the company for accepting money up front. She is alleged to have provided “canned” replies to the homeowners, advising against the court action and offering her own services to obtain a loan modification.
Eller denies the allegations of fraud.
“The whole story is that this lawsuit was put together and initiated by an ex-friend and my opponent,” Eller told the Current in November.
She says she believes Kephart is behind the grand jury subpoena, though she admits her evidence is circumstantial:
- Eller says her ex-husband, a former prosecutor and colleague of Kephart’s in the Clark County District Attorney’s office, told their daughter months before the lawsuit was filed that Eller was in trouble with the police.
- In a debate hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Kephart used his closing statement to “implore the viewers to watch and see what’s coming down with regards to Ms. Eller and her illegal activity involving fraud. There’s three different criminal complaints coming out in different states against her for her fraud and elderly fraud.
“No, absolutely not,” Kephart’s campaign manager Lisa Mayo DeRiso said in response to Eller’s allegation that Kephart is behind the grand jury investigation.
“How did a sitting judge know I was being investigated?” Eller asks.
“In the debate I was referring to the police reports filed in New York (2) and one Pennsylvania,” Kephart said via email. “Our campaign was alerted to these police reports, and we felt it was important for voters to know about these issues. In addition, I had read the bar complaint which was filed in June.”
That complaint with the Nevada State Bar was filed by Eller’s “ex-friend,” attorney Theresa Mains, who says she also notified Kephart’s campaign of the alleged fraud.
Mains says Eller told her about the alleged fraud when the two shared office space about five years ago. She says as an officer of the court, she was compelled to report suspected wrongdoing on the part of Eller to authorities.
Mains says then-Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office was investigating the allegations against Eller, but nothing materialized.
“I think it died on the vine,” she says.
“They never so much as called me,” says Eller of the AG’s office.
Mains says she also reported the allegations to the Nevada Bar, but was told the statute of limitations had expired.
When Eller advanced to the general election, Mains says she informed Kephart’s camp of Eller’s alleged acts. The campaign reached out to the alleged victims, who said they were unaware they’d allegedly been scammed.
Under Nevada law, victims of fraud who were previously unaware they’d been victimized may sue, even if the statute of limitations has run.
Eller, who is representing herself, has filed a motion requiring the eleven victims to post a bond of $500 each. State law allows a defendant to require an out-of-state plaintiff to post a bond to cover costs that may be awarded against them. The case is on hold pending the payments.
Attorney Trevor Hatfield, who filed the civil suit, said he was unaware of the subpoena served on Eller’s office.
“I had suspected that might happen,” he said. “My understanding is the authorities might want to pursue a civil action through the Attorney General or a criminal action through the District Attorney.”
Eller says the subpoenaed documents must be turned over by Dec. 16. She is scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 4.