June 29, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Westside Man Arrested in Alleged $5.2 Million Construction Bond Scam

Tommy Lester Watts faces up to 20 years in federal prison

By Staff  Writer

A Westwood man was arrested this month on a 27-count federal grand jury indictment alleging he defrauded victims out of more than $5 million by purporting to sell bonds for large-scale construction and other projects.

Tommy Lester Watts, 62, a.k.a. “Michael Nesbeth,” “Michael Kent,” and “Alex Mason,” was arrested at his residence Wednesday morning and is expected to be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

Watts is charged in an indictment filed Tuesday with 13 counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, eight counts of money laundering, two counts of tax evasion and two counts of willful failure to file tax returns.

According to the indictment, from September 2016 to September 2019, Watts falsely claimed to be experienced in and able to provide surety bonds and other financial guarantees for large-scale projects. Watts allegedly told victims that he would assist them in obtaining financing for their projects via his various companies, including the Sherman Oaks-based Source One Surety LLC. Watts allegedly misrepresented that any such bonds or guarantees were underwritten by well-known companies and banks, and that they were backed by assets in the millions or billions of dollars.

Prosecutors say, however, that Watts and his companies were not licensed to sell such bonds in California. And his claims about his experience, his clients – including governments – his underwriting, and his supporting assets were not true, the indictment alleges. To make his scheme appear legitimate, Watts allegedly hijacked the corporate filings of other companies and created fake employees and accounts for underwriters and banks.

Watts caused victims to send his companies approximately $5,205,144, the majority of which he spent on personal items such as classic and luxury cars, rent for high-end apartments, and the purchase of luxury retail goods, the indictment states.

He also allegedly laundered victim payments through accounts held in the names of corporations that were not registered and used fake taxpayer identification numbers – and then used those accounts to spend victim funds as his own. He hid this income from the IRS in tax years 2017 and 2018, in which years he failed to file any tax returns, according to the indictment.

If convicted, Watts would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count, 10 years in federal prison for each money laundering count, five years in federal prison for each tax evasion count, one year in federal prison for each willful failure to file tax returns count, and a mandatory two-year consecutive prison sentence for each count of aggravated identity theft.

Related Posts

Six Family-Fun Westside Fourth of July Events

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Fireworks, parades, runs and more taking place across the Westside  By Ashley Sloan  Pacific Palisades  The Pacific Palisades will be...

California Credit Union Awards Grant to Santa Monica Teacher

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Building electric circuit friendship detectors and applying engineering principles to solve real world problems are Westside school projects receiving funding...

Santa Monica’s Building Bridges Art Exchange Presents: J.J. Martin’s “Role Models”

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

A traveling exhibit in partnership with Indianilla Cultural Center, Mexico City and Real de Catorce Cultural Center, Real de Catorce,...

Santa Monica City Council Approves New Rules to Streamline Meetings

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

Pilot program will run through end of year By Dolores Quintana At the Santa Monica City Council meeting on June...

Banning Construction of New Gas Stations in Los Angeles?

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

Motion from LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz calls for banning the building of any new gas pumping facilities By Sam...

Child Of Elon Musk Receives Approval For Name And Gender Change: Santa Monica Beat – June 27th, 2022

June 27, 2022

June 27, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* Child Of Elon Musk Receives Approval For Name And Gender Change * Smash...

Pico Boulevard Affordable Housing Project Tops Out

June 27, 2022

June 27, 2022

Brunson Terrance coming to 1819 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica By Dolores Quintana Community Corp. of Santa Monica has completed...

The Los Angeles Real Estate Market May Finally Be Slowing Down

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Real estate sales drop 21 percent in past year By Dolores Quintana The Los Angeles real estate market is showing...

Redevelopment Complete of Former Westside Pavilion Macy’s

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Developer announces complete of West End at Pico and Overland Developer HLW, on behalf of GPI Companies and in partnership...

Mayor Himmelrich’s Tax Transfer Measure Is Favored to Qualify for the November Election

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

In a cursory review, the City Clerk’s office verified 10,277 of the over 11,000 signatures  By Dolores Quintana Santa Monica...

Active Shooter Training Set for Santa Monica Middle School Friday

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Drill to take place at John Adams Middle School Friday morning By Sam Catanzaro ​​An active shooter training will take...

Metro Church and Cafe Fundraising To Keep Space in Santa Monica

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Non-profit church and coffee shop shut down following false vermin complaint By Dolores Quintana Metropolis Santa Monica is a multi-use...

New Coffee Shop Open on Montana Avenue

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Go Get ‘Em Tiger up and running on corner of Montana and 10th  By Dolores Quintana A new coffee shop...

15-Year Department Veteran Selected as Santa Monica’s Next Director of Library Services

June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022

Erica Cuyugan leads Santa Monica Public Library After performing a nationwide search, the City of Santa Monica recently selected Erica...