Jury seated for Lochmiller trial in Denver
DENVER — A 15-member jury today will hear opening arguments and the beginning of testimony about the unraveling of Valley Investments in Grand Junction more than two years ago.
Federal prosecutors allege Valley Investments owner Philip Rand Lochmiller systematically bilked more than 400 investors of more than $30 million in a Ponzi scheme in which investors were told they could make as much as 18 percent annually on affordable-housing projects in Colorado, Utah and Idaho.
Investors’ profits were derived from the cash infusion of new investors instead of the income from sales and rentals from projects such as Country Living Mobile Home Park in Mack or the Sunburst manufactured-housing project in Vernal, Utah.
What investors were not told was that Lochmiller was sentenced in 1985 in California on 30 counts of securities fraud or that more than a dozen investors might have had deeds to the same pieces of property, according to court records.
The case against Lochmiller will be laid out over a trial that U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer said will run for five weeks.
Lochmiller faces conspiracy, money-laundering and fraud charges.
Several investors are to testify against Lochmiller, as are his stepson, also Philip Rand Lochmiller, and the elder Lochmiller’s former executive assistant, Shawnee Carver.
Attorneys completed selection of the jury, consisting of nine women and five men, late Monday afternoon. Three of the jurors are alternates.
One relative of an investor attended part of Tuesday’s hearing in Denver, and several other people attended a closed-circuit video feed of the proceeding in the courtroom of the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building in Grand Junction.
Lochmiller attended the trial alone, speaking and smiling with his attorneys but showing little visible reaction during jury selection. He responded, “Great,” when greeted and asked how he was during a passing conversation in the halls of the Alfred Arraj federal courthouse downtown.
The video feed is open to the public in Grand Junction, and individuals can monitor progress in the trial by calling a hot line set up by the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 303-454-0160.