Friday, February 15, 2013

Former BLM chief may share $528,000 payday from land sale he backed

While still in office, former U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey pledged to help developer Chris Milam buy 480 acres of federal land in Henderson - a deal that would conclude with Milam paying Abbey's consulting firm a "success fee" of $528,000, according to legal papers filed this week in Clark County District Court by attorneys representing the City of Henderson. The land deal, now under investigation by the Department of Interior's Inspector General, is a key element in Henderson's lawsuit against Milam. In late January, Henderson sued Milam, land use consultant Mike Ford and three other Milam associates, alleging they conspired in a fraudulent scheme to win Henderson's endorsement of the deal by promising to build a sports complex while actually planning to flip the land for commercial and residential development. The new court papers filed by the Las Vegas law firm of Bailey Kennedy detail Abbey's involvement in the land deal, and his relationship with Ford, another former BLM official and Abbey's partner in the Henderson land consulting firm of Abbey Stubbs & Ford LLC. At the end of July, 2011, Ford and Abbey attended the wedding of Ford's daughter in Colorado. On Aug. 2, one day after he officially went to work for Milam, Ford sent the developer an email with good news: "I had a chance to visit informally with Bob Abbey at the wedding . . . Bob will stand down until we are ready to introduce the request formally, on behalf of the City of Henderson, but we can expect full support and cooperation at the local, regional and national level." Abbey said he welcomes the federal investigation and is confident his name will be cleared. "There is nothing to hide," he told the Review-Journal Thursday. Abbey denies he influenced the BLM in the Milam land deal, and described the allegations as "frivolous and slanderous."...more

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