Prosecution continues case against Lochmiller
While several investors have testified that the head of failed Valley Investments had no reservations about putting the squeeze on investors, Philip Rand Lochmiller preferred to hold them at arms length, employees said.
Lochmiller also tried unsuccessfully to intimidate a fired employee from discussing company business, but didn’t offer to reward her silence, according to the employee, a former personal secretary.
Lochmiller’s trial enters its third week Monday. He faces multiple conspiracy and fraud-related charges in the trial, which is being conducted in Denver and broadcast via a closed circuit in the Grand Junction federal courtroom.
Lochmiller and his son, Philip Rand Lochmiller II, who was the office manager at the company, 1445 N. Seventh St., rarely accepted phone calls, receptionist Melissa Malloy testified last week.
The Lochmillers preferred that she and others who accepted incoming calls take messages rather than relay them directly, Malloy testified. That meant that she and others in the office, mostly women, dealt frequently with angry investors, upset they were unable to contact either Lochmiller directly, Malloy said.
“It was that way throughout my employment,” and not just at the end, said Malloy, who worked at Valley Investments from July 2007 until it closed in May 2009.
Other witnesses, such as Grand Junction optician Steve Bagga, detailed how Lochmiller repeatedly assured him of the safety of his investment in May 2009, even as the company was crashing down under the weight of deep investor debt and an investigation by state regulators.
Another witness, Bridget Vandeleur, said her employment was terminated Oct. 13, 2008, and she was presented with a letter that told her she could not discuss any of Valley Investments’ confidential matters. The letter, however, merely informed her of her termination and offered no financial settlement.
She wrote a letter back demanding $44,000, the amount of her salary, as a settlement, Vandeleur said. Except to say she received three payments of about $1,300 each, Vandeleur never elaborated on the outcome of her negotiations. She was dismissed from the witness stand after prosecutors and defense attorneys conducted an extensive discussion with U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer.
Testimony is to continue today as the prosecution continues presenting its case.