Feds comb investment firm’s office for dealings
A court-appointed receiver, aided by a locksmith, but not locked-out owner Philip Rand Lochmiller, got into the offices of Valley Investment on Thursday.
Lloyd Quesenberry of the Grand Junction law firm Rider and Quesenberry waited outside the building at 1445 N. Seventh St. until the locksmith opened the door, and he didn’t go in until federal agents arrived to survey the interior.
Valley Investment’s fax machine had gone long unanswered. Faxed messages filled the incoming tray, and a device that warned the fax machine was out of paper could be heard beeping incessantly through the glass front door.
It could be seen from the ground that a battery of three Breezair swamp coolers on Valley’s roof had yet to be hooked up for summer use.
While Quesenberry was inside the Valley offices for the first time, the receivership put up a Web site, valleymortgagereceivership.com, aimed at informing investors and others about the status of the company.
Rider and Quesenberry were appointed May 29 to look after Valley’s affairs after Colorado Securities Commissioner Fred Joseph sued the company and obtained an order halting the sale of unregistered securities.
Rider has estimated Valley investors are out $20 million, if not more, since Lochmiller left the business two weeks ago.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating and has set up an investor’s hotline at 303-575-7012. Investors who call are to receive questionnaires from the FBI.
Rider and Quesenberry are just starting to get a sense of the dealings of Valley Investment and hope to hire a forensic accountant to get a better understanding of the company’s dealings, Rider said.
The receivership isn’t scheduled to report back to Denver district court until August.
Quesenberry said the interior of Valley was unremarkable, with plat maps hung on the walls of some of the offices.
Valley is known to have low-income-housing projects in Colorado, Utah and Idaho.
Several prints, from landscapes to watercolor reproductions, hung from the walls of the conference room, and the foyer had a gas fireplace and stuffed chairs.
“It looks like a real office, like it’s supposed to,” Quesenberry said. “It looks legit.”
Filings by the state securities commission, however, said Lochmiller was selling unregistered securities and had failed to tell customers he had a criminal record from California.
The securities commission cited his advertisements promising guaranteed returns of 14 percent and said Lochmiller sold trust deeds to investors in $20,000 to $30,000 increments, sometimes to the same properties.