Wary employee tapes Lochmiller

The owner of collapsed Valley Investments can be heard saying on a surreptitious tape recording, made by a disgruntled employee, that he owed the company nothing.

“I don’t owe this (expletive) company anything,” Philip Rand Lochmiller said on the recording. “This company owes me money.”

The tape was played Thursday before a federal jury in Denver, which is considering Lochmiller’s fate on multiple conspiracy and fraud-related charges. The man who made the recording, Phil Bartoe, also admitted during his testimony he once was convicted of a misdemeanor theft charge for which he served a nine-month sentence in county jail.

Lochmiller spoke during a heated conversation among himself, his stepson, Philip Rand Lochmiller II, and Bartoe.

Bartoe had copies of company records detailing the names of investors, the amounts of money they had put into Valley Investments, and records about how much money both Lochmillers had spent from investor funds on themselves.

Several employees have testified about the Lochmillers’ habit of using company funds for personal purchases, such as mortgage payments on a large house in the Grand Valley, a condominium unit in Mexico, personal credit-card payments and other spending.

The company records revealed that Valley Investments’ liabilities far outweighed its assets, Bartoe insisted.

Bartoe said Lochmiller was unimpressed, telling Bartoe, “I have more money than that,” referring to the company’s liabilities.

Bartoe testified he sought a meeting in August 2008 with both Lochmillers because of the company information he had learned and because the Lochmillers had asked him and other employees to sign agreements not to enter into competitive businesses in four Western states, including Colorado and Utah.

The company information gave him strong doubts about the company, but he asked for the meeting to seek reassurance about Valley Investments’ prospects, Bartoe testified.

He said he used a hidden recorder to tape that meeting for his own protection, noting Lochmiller II was a “compulsive liar.”

Soon after he left the meeting, he received a text message from the younger Lochmiller telling him to return the company laptop, which he did at the company office, 1445 N. Seventh St., the following morning.

The elder Lochmiller approached him outside the building with a manila envelope that contained a confidentiality agreement and his signature, Bartoe said.

“I never signed it,” Bartoe testified. “He’d signed my signature.”

Bartoe said he told Lochmiller to contact his attorney. A settlement reached in an arbitration meeting called for Valley Investments to pay him $150,000, including a lump sum of $50,000 in October and $10,000 a month for the next 10 months.

The money flowed to him regularly until Valley Investments collapsed in May 2009, Bartoe testified.

Bartoe had worked six years for Valley Investments, moving up from being a loan officer in the mortgage end of the business to supervising other loan officers to being put in charge of land acquisitions for the company’s affordable-housing projects.

Testimony in the trial before U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer is to continue Monday.


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