Accused swindler free on bond
Valley Investments owner Philip Rand Lochmiller, arrested Wednesday in connection with the failure of his business, remains free awaiting a second appearance in federal court next week.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gudrun Rice freed Lochmiller, 61, Thursday on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond after he promised to make no credit transactions, not apply for credit, act as a fiduciary or hold anyone else’s money, among other conditions.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Held-myer and pretrial officials who interviewed Lochmiller agreed that Lochmiller could remain free during the remainder of the case against him.
A crowd of about 50 people, many of them investors in Valley Investments, murmured in displeasure in the federal courtroom in the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building in downtown Grand Junction.
Rice also approved Lochmiller’s application for a public defender.
Valley Investments lost about $31 million invested by 400 investors between 1999 and 2009, according to the indictment in which Lochmiller faces 32 counts of mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.
Investor Charles Sours said he was disappointed to learn Lochmiller would receive free representation in the criminal case.
“The guy took $30 million, and we’re paying to prosecute him, and we’re paying to defend him,” Sours said.
“I don’t think he should have been released,” said another investor, Jim Sanders.
Lochmiller, who appeared casually dressed in court, wearing jeans and a plaid shirt, volunteered that he already has spent significantly in his case involving the receivership that was appointed to handle the financial affairs of Valley Investments when it collapsed last spring.
“It’s been in excess of $120,000 in fees so far,” he told Rice when she asked whether he wanted the court to appoint him representation in the criminal case.
He sat alone, unaccompanied by a lawyer.
Cliff Stricklin, who represents Lochmiller in the receivership, said in an e-mail that he remained Lochmiller’s lawyer in that case.
Lochmiller’s son and co- defendant, also Philip Rand Lochmiller, 38, surrendered about noon Thursday to authorities in Denver.
A third defendant, Shawnee Carver, who was the younger Lochmiller’s personal assistant, is to appear in court at a time to be determined. She was said to be dealing out of state with a death in the family.
Lochmiller followed along as Rice read from parts of the indictment outlining the charges pending against him, including one section in which it said the Lochmillers and Carver continued to solicit investor funds for several years despite knowing that the business was not generating sufficient profit or value to sustain itself or the Lochmillers’ exorbitant lifestyle.”
Through Valley Investments, the Lochmillers owned land in three states on which they told investors they were developing affordable housing projects and selling manufactured housing to buyers.
The indictment also listed several investors identified only by initials and detailing the way their investments were treated.
In the case of an investor identified as D.F., the elder Lochmiller accepted a $30,000 investment for four lots, three in Country Living Park in Mack and one in Vernal, Utah.
No deeds of trust were recorded reflecting the purchase, and there was no effort to notify D.F. by Lochmiller or Carver when two of the lots in Mack were sold, the indictment said.
One lot with a rental trailer in Mack secured at least 13 investments, amounting to more than $640,000, the indictment said.
The younger Lochmiller is to be in federal court in Denver today for arraignment and a detention hearing.
The elder Lochmiller is to be arraigned Tuesday before Rice.
A personal-recognizance bond requires that the amount of the bond be surrendered should the defendant fail to adhere to the bond conditions, such as attending all hearings, and surrender for sentencing, should that occur. No money changes hands if the defendant meets all conditions during the life of the case.