One generous investor recalls Lochmiller’s power of persuasion

Bruce Bainter was going to embark on a new career of sorts in August.

That was when investments worth thousands of dollars he had with Valley Investments in Grand Junction were scheduled to mature.

When that money rolled in, he was going to shore up his own future and become a philanthropist.

Bainter wanted to give some money to Fellowship Church in Grand Junction, help out the Make-A-Wish Foundation for terminally ill children and make sure Roice-Hurst Humane Society could continue sheltering animals without resorting to euthanasia.

“That was money I had saved over 30 years,” and losing it put a crimp in the plans he had for his own future as well as that of the charities he hoped to help.

The major reason Bainter believed he could put significant sums of money into those charities and others was Philip Rand Lochmiller, the head of now-closed Valley Investments, 1445 N. Seventh St.

Lochmiller, who served a prison term in California for securities fraud, is under investigation by the FBI. State securities officials have sought to add fraud allegations to the complaint in Denver District Court that resulted in the closure of Valley Investments.

Bainter said he never was aware of Lochmiller’s criminal background, and he frequently had lunch or coffee with Lochmiller and considered him a friend.

When he asked Bainter to increase his investment, Lochmiller always had the right angle to persuade him, Bainter said.

“If you’ll give me the money, I’ll put it to work,” Bainter remembered Lochmiller telling him.

Lochmiller asked him, as a “special investor,” to do just that and invest $40,000 to develop The Meadows in La Junta in exchange for a 16 percent return after a year.

Valley Investments folded the next month.

Bainter was aware that Lochmiller counted among his clients several older people whom Bainter believed were counting on their investments to supplement their retirement incomes.

Lochmiller’s attorney has maintained that Valley Investments was a business that collapsed as a result of last year’s severe economic downturn.

Bainter still has hope he’ll eventually fulfill some of his philanthropic dreams, but not at the level he had planned.

It eats at him that many of Lochmiller’s victims in California died before he pleaded guilty to 30 of 60 counts against him.

Worse yet, Bainter said, is remembering his conversations with Lochmiller and Bainter’s ready refrain: “I’d always say, ‘Thank you for all you do for people.’ ”


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