Arrests in fraud case may help heal victims

The arrest of Valley Investments owner Philip Rand Lochmiller on Wednesday marks what we hope will be the beginning of emotional recovery for investors who lost about $31 million in the company.

Lochmiller, 61, has been free since the collapse in May of the 15-year-old company he founded in Grand Junction not long after completing a California sentence for securities fraud.

Since that time, investigators with the FBI, IRS, U.S. Postal Service, Colorado Securities Commission and Mesa County Sheriff’s Department have been working through company records, as well as public documents filed in Colorado, Idaho and Utah.

The investigation uncovered some 400 people who invested with Valley Investments, many of whom had placed their trust and savings with Lochmiller and his company.

Lochmiller failed to tell his investors, even as he accepted their money, about his conviction in California, the indictment says.

He, his son (also named Philip Rand Lochmiller) and an employee, Shawnee Carver, are alleged to have fraudulently represented to clients that their investments were secured with first-trust deeds to lots in five mobile-home lots billed as affordable-housing developments.

Investors have figuratively, and sometimes literally, smacked themselves on the forehead for failing to see the red flags on the investments that Valley Investments offered. They note, as well, though, that Lochmiller regularly made his payments to them, increasing their level of confidence.

That was why the collapse of Valley Investments was devastating on many levels. Certainly many investors lost much, if not all, of their nest eggs.

It delivered a double blow to victims who saw themselves as being responsible not only for their own financial planning, but also for their heirs and for charitable causes they hoped to benefit. Thus the emotional damage to investors is significant.

Lochmiller and the other defendants will be afforded every opportunity to review the result of the investigation and defend themselves, but with the arrest and the beginning of the criminal process, we hope that investors can begin their emotional recovery. Difficult as the process certainly is, we also hope they can begin rebuilding their financial lives, a task made no easier by lingering questions about Lochmiller.

The many agencies that worked together in the investigation are to be thanked for their zeal in pursuing the case.


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