The laptop of former Seeno company President Bradley Mamer is at the center of a Nevada lawsuit in which the Concord family is accused of systematically deleting important documents that could implicate them in federal criminal investigations, as well as civil cases.
In the strange tale, Mamer, in his final days as an employee of the Seenos' Wingfield Nevada Group, copied about 50 pickup trucks worth of documents, by one attorney's estimate, off his work laptop computer before turning it into the Seeno company, fearing they would be deleted by the Seenos.
Mamer handed those documents, including 19,000 e-mails, over to FBI agents and to a Pardee Homes attorney who had subpoenaed him. Pardee, who had partnered with WNG to build thousands of homes in giant Nevada golf course subdivisions in Coyote Springs, has been fighting the Seeno company in a Clark County courtroom in Las Vegas.
Mamer's fears appeared to be realized when the Seeno company's attorney announced in court that the laptop was returned empty. In an unusual move, the Pardee attorney now is asking a judge to allow a forensic computer expert to determine who deleted those documents and when. Those documents have since been recovered by the Seenos.
It's the latest legal twist involving the Seenos, who operate an array of homebuilding companies out of Concord. Mamer's name has appeared prominently in three lawsuits circulating around the doomed Wingfield venture, in which
Meanwhile, an FBI investigation led to the indictment of a Seeno sales executive and prosecutors said they expect more arrests in the fall.
The laptop caper began in the summer of 2010 after the Seenos had taken over control of Wingfield.
In August 2010, Seeno III drove Wingfield's information technology director to Mamer's and Whittemore's homes to remove their work computer servers. Mamer said the IT director was told he would be fired if he did not break into Whittemore's home and remove the server. He removed it, but was soon fired anyway, Mamer said.
In Feb. 1, 2011, the Seenos changed a long-term pre-existing company record retention program, Mamer said in a sworn statement. The new policy was for employees to delete e-mails 90 days old and older; the old policy had been "to retain all documents, electronically whenever possible."
In March 2011, Whittemore was forced to resign. In a sworn statement, Whittemore said he discussed with Mamer the need to copy company documents, given the investigations into the Seenos' business practices and the "potential legal obligation" to ensure relevant e-mails were not destroyed.
Mamer said he met with an FBI special agent on Oct. 11, 2011. "At this meeting I described a number of allegations that I felt included possible illegal activity perpetrated by the Seenos," he said in a sworn statement. " I came to believe all electronic material on my business laptop would likely be destroyed once the Seenos regained its control."
In late October, Mamer -- by then on medical leave -- downloaded more than 56 GBs of electronic data off his work laptop, which was connected to the company server. He said he did so because, among other reasons, "government investigations that were underway or pending" and feared the Seenos might destroy e-mail evidence.
Mamer returned the laptop "intact" to company officials, he said, on Dec. 9, 2011, and resigned the day after Christmas.
The laptop was long forgotten until Pardee attorneys subpoenaed Mamer earlier this year.
In 2004, Pardee Homes bought land from Wingfield for $125 million to build homes at Coyote Springs, with an option to buy the rest of the 30,000 developable acres for about $1.2 billion. When the development went belly up, the two sides went to court.
Prior to Mamer's laptop discovery, Wingfield had turned over only about 1,600 e-mails to Pardee, but Mamer's documents unveiled about 19,000 more e-mails.
The Seenos' attorney initially said Mamer deleted those files from his work laptop, stating in court, "And they tell you that we're the ones hiding information. I don't know how we could have hid information that we didn't have in the first place. (Mamer) returned nothing."
The documents on the work server, however, are automatically saved, even if deleted from the laptop. And the Seeno attorney now acknowledges the laptop was not empty; the documents were also found on three different servers.
Pardee attorney Pat Lundvall asks in a July 9 motion, "If no destruction has occurred, then (the Seeno company) should answer two questions as to (1) why has (it) not disclosed this information to Pardee before now, which is to Pardee's extreme prejudice; and (2) why did (the Seeno company) represent to the court at the June 11 hearing that the laptop was empty when Mr. Mamer returned it to (them)?"
Attorneys on both sides of the case did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment.
A judge will rule Monday on whether to allow a forensic computer expert to find out who exactly deleted the documents and when.
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.