County, FBI lease office space downtown for staff in Valley Investments probe
Take the elevator to the basement of the Merrill Lynch building on Seventh Street and you will see that the business directory needs updating.
It still lists a tenant in Unit 120, which has since moved: “Senior Solutions.”
Jane Quimby, special agent with the FBI in Grand Junction, pointed out the name and irony Wednesday as she walked inside what soon will be the hub of a multi-agency investigation that already has identified at least 300 possible victims, mostly Mesa County residents, who lost money with Valley Investments.
A drab door has an outdated Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce sticker, offering no clues about its new tenant.
Located at 123 N. Seventh St., approximately 1,700 square feet of office space has been leased by Mesa County to house the FBI, a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and investigators with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Colorado Division of Securities.
“We hope it illustrates to people our commitment to working this case,” Quimby said.
Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said he approached federal authorities with the prospect of leasing the space. Local residents shouldn’t assume the expansion means more federal agents on the streets, Hilkey said.
“Those resources are already here,” he said. “The idea is to pull everybody together into one investigatory environment.”
The FBI in Grand Junction for years has worked out of a second-floor office in the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building. Cramped conditions there already have been felt in the Valley Investments probe, Quimby said.
“We had to interview some victims in the hallway,” she said.
The lease, which was approved by the Mesa County Commission earlier this month, calls for the county to pay $900 monthly through the end of January. There’s an option to extend it.
According to the agreement, the FBI has agreed to reimburse Mesa County for monthly rent and telephone costs, “contingent on the availability of funds through the FBI’s Denver Division.”
Quimby urged potential Valley Investments victims to continue to use a hot line established in May, as opposed to coming down to the new office. The FBI hot line for the investigation, 303-575-7012, asks investors to leave a message.