Lochmiller attorney wants trial in Denver

Before pleading not guilty to 32 fraud-related charges in connection with last year’s collapse of Valley Investments, Philip Rand Lochmiller and his court-appointed attorney set the stage Thursday for a possible fight over where a trial will be conducted.

Lochmiller’s attorney, Daniel T. Smith of Denver, offered Lochmiller’s plea via a telephone in a hearing before Magistrate Judge Gudrun Rice in the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building in Grand Junction.

Smith accepted the appointment to represent Lochmiller after the federal Public Defender’s Office and two Grand Junction attorneys said they were unable to represent him. Smith told Rice he accepted the appointment under the belief the trial will be conducted in Denver.

Prosecutor Michelle Heldmyer has until Jan. 27 to file a motion with U.S. District Judge Phil Brimmer requesting the trial be conducted in Grand Junction.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Smith told Rice.

With Lochmiller’s pleas entered, no further hearings will be conducted in Grand Junction unless Brimmer chooses to conduct the trial in the city where many of Valley Investment’s investors live.

Lochmiller, his son, Phillip Lochmiller Jr., and an employee, Shawnee Carver, are charged with mail fraud, securities fraud and related conspiracy charges in the business that collected investments of $31 million from approximately 400 investors who were promised first trust deeds to land in manufactured-home housing projects in Colorado, Utah and Idaho.

The receiver for Valley Investments late last year estimated the assets of the company amount to about $5.5 million.

Grand Junction attorneys Marna Lake and Steve Laiche said they had conflicts or were unable to devote the time.


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