6-figure retirement account gone
For years, Augie and Pauline Reyes pulled a few thousand dollars out of their account at Valley Investments to finance their annual fall trip to visit Augie’s mother in Mexico City.
As soon as they returned to Grand Junction, the Reyeses regularly pumped a little more money than they took out back into Valley Investments, 1445 N. Seventh St., to preserve the value of their account.
“We didn’t want to deplete it,” Augie Reyes, 74, said. “You have to keep up with inflation.”
Late last month, Reyes put a little money in the account, just as he always has during the months he’s in Grand Junction.
“They already knew, and they took my $1,000,” he said. “They didn’t say a thing. You think they would have told us something, but no.”
Days later, on May 29, a Denver district court closed the business down as state and federal authorities continued investigations into Valley Investments and its owners, Philip Rand
Lochmiller and his son, also Philip Lochmiller. The firm was placed in receivership.
The Reyeses, who counted on seeing their monthly statement, got none in early June.
It has become clear that the money they had in their six-figure account is gone, and the prospects of a visit to Mexico this fall are dim at best.
“Now we have to learn to go back to work,” said Pauline Reyes, 75, who already volunteers at the Catholic Social Services soup kitchen.
Long careful with their money, the Reyeses live in a well-kept mobile home, and they counted on interest payments from Valley Investments to keep them ahead of their bills.
Augie Reyes, who keeps meticulous records of his transactions with Valley and sets aside money every month for unavoidable expenses such as taxes and licensing fees for the family vehicles, said he reduced his contributions to the accounts he sets aside for those costs.
If all the investment in Valley is gone, the Reyeses will have only Social Security payments for their income, he said.
Augie Reyes worked for the federal government and in other jobs in the Grand Valley before he and Pauline bought El Sombrero restaurant and turned it into Los Reyes in south downtown Grand Junction. Their son now owns the restaurant. Their daughter owns Muñiz Autos.
With the failure of Valley Investments, the Reyeses are re-examining their dealings with the company.
The last time she was in the office, about two months ago, Pauline Reyes asked employee Shawnee Carver how business was going, given the national economic upheaval.
“She said things were really going great,” Pauline said.
The FBI is asking investors to describe their dealings with Carver, as well as with the Lochmillers.
Augie Reyes said he pressed to get deeds of trust instead of promissory notes from the company, but without success.
The court this week restrained the Lochmillers from disposing of any of several properties believed to be tied to Valley Investments, including rental units, work-related vehicles and other items.
“Why don’t they do something about the property in Mexico?” Reyes asked.
The senior Lochmiller owns a condo in Mexico, according to several investors, including Augie, who spoke with him about it.
Lochmiller’s passport, however, is in the custody of his attorney.
The receivership is aware of the Mexico property and could try to claim it as part of the Valley Investments estate.
The receivers also are aware the Lochmillers possessed two classic vehicles, a 1955 Chevrolet and a 1954 fire truck, but they are unaware of their locations, said Lloyd Quesenberry of Rider and Quesenberry, the Grand Junction law firm handling the receivership.
The only thing certain the Reyeses have of their Valley Investments account now is the candy jar that Valley sent last Christmas, as the company had done every year, wishing the Reyeses a happy holiday.
He’d like more from Lochmiller Sr., Augie said.
“I think he owes an explanation to us,” Augie said, “and to the community.”