By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Woodall: "I don't know whether it would be best or not, but I could find a friendly lawyer--what they know, they've made a lot of loans in Nevada, if that would help any, but maybe this guy'd be best."
Banks legally charge points on real estate transactions. If your credit isn't strong enough for a bank, alternative financiers charge you a lot more for their money. The Teamsters were free to demand a premium for a loan. Whatever was charged, however, had to go to the pension fund. Agents, like Teamster officers who approved the loan, could not put cash fees or kickbacks into their own pockets.
The transcripts are full of vague references. Was it a kickback (illegal) or was it points (legal)? Who were "they"? Did "they" refer to the fund or to the individual officers?
Woodall: "If they make a $20 million loan they want us to give them a couple million dollars . . . everything's negotiable."
Berentz: "We've put some through that are unbelievable."
Woodall: " . . . They've got plenty of money, it's just a matter of us working out what we wanna do and the sweeter the pie is for them the better deal we can make. And they're not bashful at all . . . "
Corbet: "We're in it at something like $13.8 million. If we can borrow $16 million on that--'cause it's got a $21 million appraisal on it, then we can pay those other guys their points that they want or whatever the hell it is, but you're looking at, really, something that makes some sense to do if, on the back side you don't have to pay anything for five years . . . "
Berentz: " . . . We're here, as we said earlier, to make some money . . . The points, or whatever you wanna call them, take care of everybody . . . "
Corbet: "If that money is as good as any other money and it's legal, that's great. Y'know, it looks great."
Although Woodall and Berentz were shy to come right out and say "kickbacks," the "points or whatever you wanna call it" degenerates into a gray area that Corbet should have clarified or rebelled against.
Instead of focusing on just exactly what it was that Woodall and Berentz proposed, Corbet was obsessed with negative publicity from the newspapers. Not publicity about kickbacks, but publicity about any Corbet deal linked to the Teamsters.
Corbet went on to explain his bitter relationship with the Arizona Republic and a graphic confrontation that occurred with the publisher during Corbet's race against incumbent governor Bruce Babbitt.
Corbet: "He's [Pat Murphy] a turd of the worst kind. . . . I called Babbitt a liar one time and he [Murphy] says, `Leo, you really think he's [Babbitt] a liar?' `You're goddamn right he's [Babbitt] a liar,' I said.
"`You know, your problem, Pat, is that if you caught him [Babbitt] in the shower playing with himself, you'd say it's his soap and his prick, he can wash it as fast as he wants to.'"
Having regaled his fellow developers with the bad blood that existed between him and the dailies, Corbet went on to explain how worried he was about being linked to the Teamsters.
Corbet: " . . . You know how those [reporters] are. [Inaudible] say about me borrowin' some money from the Teamsters union no matter how squeaky clean the son of a bitch is in Arizona, you're dead . . . so couple things:
"One, is there a possibility [of doing] it through a corporation, another corporate shell or something like that?"
By this point, Leo Corbet was a desperate man. Teamster pension money is a legitimate source of funding--Fife Symington's Mercado, for example, is underwritten with the union's pension fund.
But all Corbet saw were headlines linking him with Jimmy Hoffa, Jackie Presser, and Allen Dorfman.
As Corbet struggled to conceal his involvement, Woodall and Berentz were only too willing to help. The detective drafted a letter of application for the loan and Corbet signed a friend's name, promising to alert his pal later.
For the sake of millions of dollars, Corbet behaved like a fool and betrayed himself.
Within 24 hours, Corbet would insist that the deal be handled through a mortgage company, but the damage was done.
Although the attorney general could find no laws that were broken, neither could Corbet erase the rash words uttered into a hidden microphone.
For twelve years, Leo Corbet helped kill bills designed to expand the ever increasing powers of Attorney General Bob Corbin, who already ran the largest law staff west of the Mississippi. Whenever Corbin's right hand Steve Twist drafted legislation that forgot about civil liberties, it was always Leo Corbet who shelved the bills. The dailies used their editorial pages to blast away at Leo Corbet's presumption. In 1987, out of office and a private citizen, Leo Corbet fell into the arms of the attorney general without ever realizing it.
Today, almost four years later, Leo Corbet is running for re-election to the Senate, where he is expected to bid for the presidency of that body. Earlier this year he did the impolitic and endorsed Steve Twist's opponent in the Republican primary to pick a successor to Attorney General Bob Corbin.