Prosecutors in fraud case ask to keep trial in Grand Junction

Attending a Denver trial for three defendants involved in the collapse of Grand Junction-based Valley Investments would be costly and difficult for many people who already lost money with the company, court papers say.

Failing to conduct the trial in Grand Junction, the prosecution said in a filing, also would discriminate against the citizens in 14 Western Slope counties by denying them the opportunity to sit on a case of the magnitude of the Valley Investments collapse.

Attorneys for two of the three defendants raised questions about the security of the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building, the convenience of Grand Junction Regional Airport and other issues.

This type of illogic is not only ‘Denver-centric,’ ” it would place an undue burden on Denver to provide jurors in a case with few connections to the Front Range, prosecutor Michelle Heldmyer wrote.

Valley Investments owner Philip Rand Lochmiller, his son, also Philip Rand Lochmiller, and an employee, Shawnee Carver, all face several mail- and securities-fraud related charges in connection with Valley Investments’ collapse nearly a year ago.

More than 400 investors had invested more than $30 million into Valley Investments when it fell.  Heldmyer filed her argument in favor of moving the trial from Denver, where it is now scheduled, to Grand Junction, late last week.

Denver attorney Daniel T. Smith had sought to keep the trial on the Front Range, noting in a previous filing that he accepted an appointment to represent the elder Lochmiller with the understanding that the trial would be conducted in Denver. Conducting the trial in Denver would threaten his law practice and would be more convenient for Lochmiller, who lives in Mack.

Denver, however, is “even farther away from him in Mack than if he resided” in Grand Junction, Heldmyer said.

“Certainly there will be difficulties to overcome” in conducting a trial in Grand Junction, but that shouldn’t prevent District Judge Philip A. Brimmer from presiding over the trial in the city.

“If a trial, so important to this community, cannot be held in Grand Junction purely because of administrative conditions, then it is time not to deny the community, but to change the conditions,” Heldmyer wrote.

Heldmyer also included comments from one investor who noted that while defense attorneys are being paid for their time, investors who lost money are not, “so forcing hundreds of victims to travel to Denver would result in a significant additional financial loss to many victims with no hope of reimbursement,” the investor wrote.

It’s now up to Brimmer to decide to rule based on papers filed with the court or set a hearing.


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