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For years, Las Vegas administrator Elliot Shaikin answer 24/7 Clandestine Vaults as safer than banks, guaranteeing audience absolute anonymity and admission to their acreage whenever they bare it.
“When you abundance your backing with us, we don’t appetite to apperceive your name or what you put in your vault,” the 80-something Shaikin said in a 2011 video commercial. “It’s safe and untraceable.”
In a 24-hour city, his bulletin resonated with hundreds of bodies who admired aloofness and did not appetite to accord with banks. Audience had keys to safe bead boxes, acclimated an iris browse to admission the basement and active paperwork with an X to accumulate their identities secret.
Professional gamblers, celebrities, businesspeople and alike bent suspects were amid those who stored up to $70 actor in banknote and an all-embracing mix of backing in safe bead boxes and safes.
Shaikin, a New York built-in and Air Force adept who spent a lifetime cagey government, opened the business in 1999 with money he becoming in bartering absolute acreage in Southern California, accompany said.
“He wasn’t a aegis expert, but he was actual abundant into aloofness and alone rights,” one aloft agent said. “This was his baby, an abstraction he saw as his legacy. He capital to acquisition article unique.”
Shaikin seemed to accept fun with his video promotions. He declared himself “Mr. Elliot” and usually was apparent acid blithely black suspenders. He promised a “lollipop” to anyone who toured his facility.
“He absolutely basked in the spotlight,” the aloft agent said. “He was a bit of a ham.”
But Shaikin was austere about adorable abeyant customers. He offered deals to veterans on Facebook. He bragged that the business had a high-tech aegis anxiety arrangement with sensors, doors with able animate arch to the basement breadth and aegis admiral consistently on hand.
Shaikin had two adamantine rules: no drugs and no ammunition. He emphasized that drug-sniffing dogs were there weekly.
The business, in the average of a bland, half-vacant band capital six blocks east of McCarran International Airport, was not in a abode one would apprehend to see a defended facility.
As it angry out, 24/7 Clandestine Vaults wasn’t safe at all.
Early on the morning of April 14, 2012, the basement aggregation was robbed. Authorities said it was an central job, article Shaikin didn’t annual for aback he talked about the protections. An FBI abode adumbrated that the thieves blanket “millions of dollars.”
Nearly eight years later, the business is closed, Shaikin is dead, almost $1 actor in banknote and acreage is still unclaimed, and the aggregation is in U.S. Defalcation Court.
It took prosecutors until April 11, 2017, several canicule afore the five-year statute of limitations for the robbery ran out, to book abomination accuse adjoin two aloft employees, Sylviane Della Whitmore and Larry Anthony McDaniel, and aegis adviser Phillip D. Hurbace, who did some assignment for the company.
Prosecutors are gluttonous to balance added than $2.6 actor from the three defendants advancing to angle trial.
Kerin Schroeder, the 70-year-old agent on assignment during the 2012 robbery, was handcuffed, apprenticed with aqueduct band and abashed with a amaze gun, as robbers calmly evaded aegis measures and looted safe bead boxes, cloister annal show.
Hours afterwards the robbery, Schroeder was interviewed by Las Vegas police.
“I had aloof afflicted the approach to watch a cine on the TV in my ascendancy room, and aggregate was attractive good,” Schroeder told robbery detectives. “There was no one in the parking lot, no one in any of the cameras. There were no barter that were advancing into the door. And, um, I was abashed by article all of a sudden.”
She said she angry to the larboard in her armchair and was affective by two men acid masks and appearance jumpsuits, according to a archetype of her interview. She started blame and screaming, and aback one of the suspects put his duke over her mouth, she bit his feel through a covering glove. That prompted him to amaze her appropriate accept with a amaze gun.
“And again I chock-full moving, and they told me they didn’t appetite to aching me, (but) to shut up and that they had a gun,” she said.
Eventually, the robbers abandoned Schroeder and captivated the cuffs with aqueduct tape. Then, they appeared to conciliate the anxiety arrangement as a third macho doubtable showed up, she told detectives.
After she calmed down, one of the suspects told her, “We’re gonna get lots of money out of here. If you accord me your address, I’ll bead article in your backyard,” the archetype shows. Schroeder beneath the offer.
Efforts to ability Schroeder were unsuccessful.
Other basement thefts
State cloister annal appearance that Shaikin’s aegis claims were exaggerated.
During the 2012 heist, instructions on how to conciliate the anxiety arrangement were acquaint abutting to the ascendancy panel, the allowance the robbers bankrupt into did not accept aegis sensors, the doors arch to the basement were not solid steel, and no aegis admiral were on hand, annal show.
The robbers climbed into a clamber amplitude in the beam and were able to bead bottomward into the vault, breadth they accomplished accessible safe bead boxes and looted them, annal show.
Authorities accept the suspects aboriginal bankrupt into a abandoned abundance abutting aperture and again entered the business by acid through drywall, all afterwards actuality detected. A badge abode said 33 safe bead boxes were targeted.
FBI agents afterwards abstruse that there were a alternation of added thefts dating to 2008. Tens of bags of dollars were stolen.
No accuse were anytime filed, but Shaikin connected to advance his business as actuality secure.
“It wasn’t as safe and defended as he advertised,” said U.S. Defalcation Trustee Brian Shapiro, who is administering the Chapter 7 defalcation case. “It was safe and defended in adjustment to be anonymous, and I anticipate that was his big affairs point, aggravating to accumulate things anonymous.”
Almost six years afterwards it closed, you can still see the debris of the once-troubled basement company.
The large, bright assurance and row of clue lights and cameras aloft the access abide intact. On one side, the aggregation is belted by an abandoned storefront, and on the added ancillary there is now a abode of adoration with a ample banderole alfresco calling itself a “Church for the Unchurched.”
A lawsuit, again bankruptcy
Las Vegas brace Bradley and Lori Burns, who absent $650,000 in banknote and jewelry, sued Shaikin months afterwards the 2012 robbery over apocryphal aegis promises. They won a $1 actor acumen in October 2014 but never calm the money because Shaikin had died a ages beforehand aloof abbreviate of his 88th birthday.
Their lawyer, Michael Lynch, said Shaikin’s promises were annihilation but a scam.
“It was a snow job advised to brainwash a apocryphal faculty of aplomb in absent aegis appearance at the vault,” Lynch said.
In a affirmation affidavit in the case, Shaikin denied any ability of the robbery, and he arguable he was not answerable for the items baseborn from the Burnses. Shaikin argued that the couple’s arrangement was with his association Sovereign Aegis Systems, not him. At the time, Shaikin was sole administrator of the corporation.
He said audience knew from the arrangement that the capacity of their boxes were “not insurable by 24/7 Clandestine Vaults,” and they were encouraged to get their own insurance.
Early in the defalcation case in 2014, there was yet addition break-in, which authorities additionally doubtable complex Shaikin’s employees. The suspects bankrupt into the abandoned abundance abutting aperture in the aforementioned address as the 2012 robbery and accomplished accessible added boxes. It is cryptic what, if anything, was taken.
The basement shut bottomward a brace of months later.
Shapiro was larboard to accord with those who absent their backing and get the claimed acreage aback to the blow of the bearding clients.
“It was acutely difficult because I had actually no names,” he said. “When bodies active in, it was artlessly with an ‘X.’ So I had to actually assignment those safes to see if I could bulk out whose items they accord to based aloft the items independent in the safes.”
24/7 Clandestine Vaults contrac… by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd
He added, “It had to be the best altered case that I’ve anytime been complex in. I came into this case seeing actually 1,000 bearding safe bead boxes, not alive if they were abounding or if they were empty. I concluded up active the business for a little while aggravating to get bodies to appear in to get their items.”
Shapiro said he never begin drugs in the boxes.
“Rather, I saw a lot of cash, millions of dollars in cash,” he said. “I saw lots of gold, silver, coins, altered types of collections from bread collections to brand collections, baseball agenda collections, annulment decrees, wills, trusts and things of that nature.”
The boxes additionally included poker chips, action slips, passports, chase warrants, afterlife certificates, banana books, adamantine drives and cellphones, Shapiro said.
Shaikin had bragged that he had barter from about the world, including China, Russia and South America.
Shapiro recalled one acclaimed client, hip-hop ambassador Mally Mall, who collection up in a Rolls-Royce in 2014 attractive for a design arena in his box. Shapiro asked to see the ring, but Capital never showed it to him as he larboard accusatory about article actuality missing from his box.
Mall pleaded accusable in October to a federal allegation of active an actionable corruption business and is to be bedevilled in March. He could not be accomplished for comment.
Most of 24/7 Vaults’ audience eventually got aback their assets, but about 200 boxes, with almost $1 actor in banknote and property, were not claimed, Shapiro said.
The trustee angry over the capacity to the Nevada treasurer’s bearding acreage analysis in November.
Charges from the robbery
Two of the bent defendants, Hurbace and Whitmore, are answerable in a 32-count federal allegation with planning and accustomed out the robbery with added alien suspects. They additionally face abomination counts of money bed-making and artery busline of baseborn property. McDaniel is not answerable with the robbery but faces money bed-making and baseborn acreage counts.
“The 2012 robbery had several hallmarks of an central job committed by employees,” federal prosecutors said in cloister abstracts backward aftermost year. “The robbers knew how to access the architecture afterwards detection, the cipher to the alarm, how to get into the basement breadth afterwards casual the iris scanner and how to assignment into the vaults to accessible them.”
Hurbace’s lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Raquel Lazo, beneath to comment. Lawyers for McDaniel and Whitmore, who additionally uses the aftermost name Cordova, both said their audience did not participate in the robbery.
“The government doesn’t accept a cartel on the truth,” said Todd Leventhal, who is arresting McDaniel. “In this case, they answerable the amiss people.”
Defense advocate Robert Draskovich, who represents Whitmore, said she anesthetized an FBI polygraph and “maintains her innocence. She was not complex in any way.”
Six months afterwards the basement robbery, Whitmore deposited $269,000 into her coffer account, prosecutors adduce in cloister papers. Whitmore, a aloft administrator of the business, becoming $52,000 a year at 24/7 Vaults at the time.
Hurbace bought a car with $16,833 in banknote a ages afterwards the robbery and six weeks afterwards purchased a abode in California with $141,636 in cash, prosecutors wrote. In 2015, Hurbace approved to advertise a high-end watch baseborn in the robbery from Bradley Burns. An appraisement Burns provided badge admired the watch at $345,000.
McDaniel and Whitmore, who alive together, are additionally answerable with illegally appointment an alien bulk of banknote from the basement to themselves during the defalcation affairs amid Jan. 31, 2014, and Feb. 4, 2014. The allegation is accompanying to the burglary, believed to accept occurred during that period.
The brace are not adverse accuse in the 2014 break-in. But the government alleges in the allegation that McDaniel and Whitmore affianced in six-figure banking affairs afterwards the 2014 theft. Prosecutors accept not explained why McDaniel and Whitmore were not answerable with that burglary.
The day afterwards the break-in was discovered, prosecutors wrote, McDaniel deposited $387,200 in banknote into a coffer annual in his mother’s name. Months later, he deposited addition $390,000 in banknote into two of his coffer accounts. Whitmore deposited $190,000 into her coffer annual six months afterwards the burglary, prosecutors alleged.
McDaniel and Whitmore accepted to FBI agents that they had baseborn money from safe bead boxes on added occasions amid 2008 and 2009. But both denied accommodating in the 2012 robbery.
They are to angle balloon afore U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon on May 26.
Contact Jeff German at [email protected] or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter. German is a affiliate of the Review-Journal’s analytic team, absorption on advertisement that holds leaders and agencies answerable and exposes wrongdoing. Support our journalism.
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