Fugitive developer arrested in Mexico
By MIKE WIGGINS
A fugitive Weld County developer who has ties to land that was annexed earlier this year by the city of Grand Junction has been arrested in Mexico.
Mexican authorities arrested 51-year-old Mark Strodtman in Playa Del Carmen on Tuesday on warrants for racketeering and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He was flown Wednesday night to Los Angeles, was arrested by FBI agents and is being held without bond, according to the Weld County Sheriff’s Department.
A Weld County grand jury in March indicted Strodtman on charges of racketeering, theft of more than $15,000 and forgery charges. He and several associates are accused of falsifying documents to deceive buyers and lenders into purchasing and lending money for homes owned by his real estate company, JS Real Estate LLC.
Authorities have said Strodtman had agreed to turn himself in after the indictment but instead fled to Mexico.
The FBI and the Weld County Sheriff’s Department worked together for two months to find and arrest Strodtman.
He was featured on the Web site of America’s Most Wanted, and authorities published news releases about Strodtman on Web sites in the Cancun area.
Authorities say they received tips via fax, the Internet, e-mail and telephone about Strodtman’s location in Mexico.
Weld County sheriff’s deputy Shane Scofield said Mexican authorities detained Strodtman for allegedly committing a new crime, then learned he was wanted by the FBI. Scofield declined to release the details of the new crime.
Strodtman is scheduled to appear in a California court today, where he will have the opportunity to waive or fight extradition.
“He allegedly has impacted a lot of people’s lives,” Scofield said. “The sooner we can get him in front of a judge and the sooner we can get his case adjudicated, the better, as far as we’re concerned here at the sheriff’s office.”
Three months ago, while Strodtman was at large, the Grand Junction City Council agreed to annex nearly 18 acres in Orchard Mesa at 166 Edlun Road and zone the land to allow two units an acre.
The property, which is adjacent to the Old Spanish Trail, is owned by The Shores LLC, a company formed by Strodtman.
Another corporation owned by Strodtman, Orchard Mesa Estates II LLP, owns another 350 acres in the area.
Neighbors have expressed concern that any development could encroach upon the historic trail and reduce public access to it.
It’s not immediately clear what effect Strodtman’s arrest could have on the potential development of the Edlun Road property. His legal troubles in Weld County could delay the project, or the development could move forward if Strodtman were to sell his interest in The Shores LLC.
Neighbors have pointed to Strodtman’s pending Weld County case as a reason for the city to reject any land-use applications or postpone consideration of them. City officials, though, have previously said the case has no bearing on whether they will process those applications.
Senior Planner Lori Bowers said Thursday a development application for the Edlun Road property has not been filed.