Taken in by scam suspect, woman faces foreclosure
Sally Musgrove has always shown she can take care of herself.
Back in the 1970s, she won over customers who had doubts about a woman in the surveying business.
At age 58, she went to college, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mesa State College and then got a job with federal contractor Rust Geotech.
Musgrove was taking care of herself, as well, when she sold her house and invested the proceeds in an account that would pay the mortgage on a new place, one with no stairs and plenty of room.
She put her money from the sale, $148,000, into Valley Investments in January 2009 and began taking money from that investment to pay off her mortgage.
Five months later, Valley Investments collapsed.
When that happened, Musgrove no longer could make her mortgage payments, and she is in foreclosure. She remains in the home because her lender, Wells Fargo Bank, has been very patient with her, she said.
Valley Investments owner Philip Rand Lochmiller and his son, Philip Rand Lochmiller Jr., and an employee, Shawnee Carver, face federal mail- and securities-fraud charges. No decision has been made whether they will be tried in Grand Junction or Denver. All remain free pending trial.
Investigators have said about $31 million was invested with Valley Investments.
Musgrove’s last check from Valley Investments was in May, and now she is waiting to see if there is some way she can keep her 1,000-square-foot home in Pear Park.
She speaks often with bankers and others who occasionally offer some hope she might be able to keep her house, “but there’s nothing solid I can get my hands on,” Musgrove said.
Musgrove, 70, works on the old steel desk from the surveying business she and her late husband, Luther, ran. In her office hang several square-dancing medals she earned at the Huntsman Senior Games in Utah, along with her Mesa State College diploma.
Musgrove fondly remembers that day in the 1970s when Luther sent her to deliver some papers to a client, who had doubts about dealing with a woman.
“Your wife is very professional,” she remembers the customer told her husband.
Next to her office, Musgrove has a small bedroom that opens to the east, filling what she calls her sun room with light, and a kitchen large enough to allow her to move about with ease. She is disabled and has undergone three back surgeries, the last of which she said she fears might have left her worse off, not better.
It’s possible she could get a small place administered by the Grand Junction Housing Authority, but there are no accommodations that would allow her to keep her belongings, such as the desk, her microwave oven and other items.
As much as she worries about her future, Musgrove said she is confounded by what happened with Valley Investments. Like many other investors, Musgrove believed she had been diligent in studying Valley Investments and Lochmiller.
She could read plats and understood what Lochmiller was building with Country Living Mobile Home Park in Mack, she said.
“I saw what he had done, and I was impressed,” she said. “I felt like I knew him.”
She never heard from Lochmiller or Valley Investments, either, just before or after the company collapsed, she said.
Valley Investments also owned affordable-housing projects in La Junta and in Utah and Idaho.
Musgrove said she wants to keep the house she already has, even though she knows that her home might be sold out from underneath her in June.
If she can find a way to make her mortgage fit within her Social Security income, she can survive in her home, Musgrove said.
“I don’t want to lose what I have worked so hard to get here,” she said.