An FBI spokesperson says that for the time being the agency is not commenting on the case. But already the investigation has provided a window into yet another layer of corruption that took place amid the national housing boom and its subsequent hangover—a period that saw a surge in real estate malfeasance of every imaginable variety, including false loan applications, predatory lending schemes, illegal property flipping, equity skimming, and “air loans” (loans for property that doesn’t exist). According to FBI data, the number of suspicious activity reports related to real estate fraud filed by financial institutions jumped to 67,190 in 2009 from 6,936 in 2003.
To this history, Las Vegas has managed to add another florid chapter. So far, prosecutors have reached plea agreements with 10 co-conspirators. Many more are expected to appear in front of judges in the coming months. Says Murray: “We’re all going to be sitting in the front row, watching.”