July 4, 2022 Your Source for Brentwood News

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

Bel Air Office Building Bought by Getty Trust

July 2, 2022

July 2, 2022

The site contains 12,000 feet of recreation and outdoor workspace By Dolores Quintana The two-story building in Bel Air at...

State Officials Approve LA’s Updated Housing Element

July 1, 2022

July 1, 2022

255,000 new units to be built under new plan By Dolores Quintana  As of June 30, the City of Los...

Bel Air Real Estate Developer Guilty of Fraud, Bribery and Obstruction for Paying $500,000 in Cash to City Officials

July 1, 2022

July 1, 2022

David Lee charged in connection to José Huizar bribes A real estate developer and one of his companies were found...

Los Angeles City Attorney Says His Office Is Cracking Down on Illegal Fireworks

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

Fines up to $1,000 for violaters, City Attorney says ​​Amid historically dry conditions brought on by California’s severe drought, Los...

LA City Council Approves $25 Per Hour Wage Hike for Certain Healthcare Workers

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

Law would apply only to workers at privately owned facilities By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles City Council this week approved...

Two Big Rigs and Truck Crash on 405 Near Brentwood

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

Monday night crash involved two big rigs and truck At least two patients were taken to a local hospital following...

Jennifer Garner Selected as Grand Marshall for Pacific Palisades Fourth of July Parade

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

Parade will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday By Dolores Quintana Actress Jennifer Garner has been announced as the Grand Marshal...

Central Coast Brewery Makes Westside Acquisitions

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Figueroa Mountain Brewing acquires Broxton Brewery, The Stalking Horse and more. Staff, current beer taps to remain on board at...

Brentwood Getting Two New Pizzerias

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Full Proof Pizza, Upper Crust Pizza plan Brentwood restaurants  By Dolores Quintana There will be two new locations of very...

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...

Zuma Creek Bridge Rebuilt After Being Destroyed in Woolsey Fire

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

Trail and new bridge reopened on May 13.  The new Zuma Creek Bridge is the latest accomplishment in a long...

Two Additional Beach Patrol Officers Assigned to Pacific Palisades

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

Officers will patrol the area through the summer By Sam Catanzaro Two additional police officers will be coming to the...

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...

L.A City Council Votes Tentative Minimum Increase For Healthcare Workers: Brentwood Beat – June 27th, 2022

June 27, 2022

June 27, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* L.A City Council Votes Tentative Minimum Increase For Healthcare Workers* Celebrity Gynecologist...

Brentwood Oasis Mansion Lists for $48 Million

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Bundy Drive property hits market By Dolores Quintana The Brentwood Oasis, a behemoth of a mansion owned by billionaire hedge...