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

Summer at Annenberg:Swim Daily and Watch the Sunset

July 12, 2024

July 12, 2024

By Susan Payne A unique, inclusive community destination along the Pacific Coast Highway of Santa Monica is inviting you to...

Both Drivers Have Been Identified in Fatal Malibu Crash on July 4

July 12, 2024

July 12, 2024

Collision on Pacific Coast Highway Leaves One Driver Dead Law enforcement officials have identified the drivers in the tragic accident...

This Homeless Santa Monica Resident Saved a Teenage Girl From a Vicious Attack

July 12, 2024

July 12, 2024

City Council’s Commendation for Wilker Was Made at Its Most Recent Meeting on July 9 By Zach Armstrong Santa Monica City...

Will Pali Rec Center’s New Playground be Ocean, Forest, or Desert Themed?

July 11, 2024

July 11, 2024

Feedback on the Designs Will Be Shared With the Palisades Palisades Park Advisory Board By Zach Armstrong The Palisades community...

(Video) Renowned Soprano Singer to Make L.A. Homecoming at Broad Stage

July 11, 2024

July 11, 2024

Golda is scheduled to perform on July 13 at 8 p.m. @palisadesnews This Saprano singer is set to take the...

Reward Offered for Information on Abused German Shepherd Found Near Malibu Creek Canyon

July 11, 2024

July 11, 2024

Groups Seek Justice for Argon, Dog Discovered with Zip-Tied Mouth and Neck In Defense of Animals and Peace 4 Animals are...

Council Approves Five-Year-Plan to Improve Big Blue Bus Services

July 11, 2024

July 11, 2024

The Initiative Aims to Expand Operating Hours, Improve Connectivity, and Create More Frequent Service By Zach Armstrong A five-year plan from...

A Homeless Man in a Palisades Canyon Was Found With a Revolver. Its Property Owner Has Neglected the Site for Years

July 10, 2024

July 10, 2024

The Entire Canyon Is Now a Significant Fire Hazard, According to Officials By Zach Armstrong Within a Pacific Palisades canyon,...

LAPD Detectives and LASD Nab Group Responsible for Over 30 Residential Burglaries

July 10, 2024

July 10, 2024

“Reflector Vest Crew” Burglary Suspects Arrested in Los Angeles In collaboration with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes...

Santa Monica Artist Dave Quick’s “Return from the Burn” Exhibition to Open at Bergamot’s Lois Lambert Gallery

July 10, 2024

July 10, 2024

Pre-Burning Man Showcase Features Kinetic Art and Sculptures Coated with Playa Dust, Opens July 13 With upwards of 80,000 attendees,...

Palisades’ Vons Market Among Hundreds to be Sold Under Merger Plan

July 10, 2024

July 10, 2024

The Sale Is Intended to Satisfy Regulators By Zach Armstrong The Vons supermarket in the Pacific Palisades, located at 17380...

United Plane Loses Tire During LAX Takeoff; Man Tasered in Separate Airport Incident

July 9, 2024

July 9, 2024

Tire Incident Was the Second in Four Months, Plane Landed Safely  Early Saturday morning, a shirtless and barefoot man experiencing...

(Video) Newly Rebranded Santa Monica Hotel Shines a New Light on the Neighborhood

July 9, 2024

July 9, 2024

The Revitalized Business is Also Available For Events @palisadesnews The newly rebranded Santa Monica Hotel casts a new light on...

Award-Winning Soprano Makes Broad Stage Debut

July 9, 2024

July 9, 2024

Golda Zahra to Perform in LA July 13 By Susan Payne Renowned Soprano Golda Zahra is making her homecoming back...

Electric Lodge Hosts Summer Empowerment Fair

July 9, 2024

July 9, 2024

Performing Arts Center Partners with LADWP By Susan Payne Performance. Sustainability. Community. These are three virtues leading the charge for...