The victims of a 2009 Ponzi scheme will see pennies on the dollar, but they will get something back, the attorney appointed by the court to handle assets of Valley Investments said.
Grand Junction attorney Kirk Rider said all seized assets of Philip Rand Lochmiller Sr. and his company have now been liquidated, and checks will be issued next month to his victims.
Lochmiller was convicted in federal court in 2012 on 31 counts of conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering and mail fraud. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Lochmiller's Grand Junction-based Valley Investments, formerly known as Valley Mortgage, purchased land around the state and in Utah with financing provided by sellers through "owner-carry" arrangements. The company, headed by Lochmiller Sr., then advertised in local newspapers for investors, eventually attracting about 400 of them who together invested about $30 million.
The company was promising returns of up to 18 percent, primarily on projects to build affordable housing.
But instead of using the money to build anything, Lochmiller and some members of his family used the money to keep the scheme afloat, and diverted some of the investment cash to personal and family expenses.
Rider said he and his law firm, Rider & Quesenberry, did everything they could to locate assets and liquidate them.
"We didn't have much in the way of assets," he said. "Most of these trailer parks that were housing developments had little value. We did get some good value out of a trailer park in La Junta, and got something for properties out in Mack. We got almost nothing for the real estate up in Vernal (Utah) and Dinosaur. We had some claims against professionals, and some clawbacks that produced some satisfying results."
Rider said the court went after some assets of Lochmiller's family, including his son, Philip Rand Lochmiller II. He and a former company official, Shawnee Carver, also were indicted by a grand jury in relation to the scheme. Both pleaded guilty, and testified against Lochmiller Sr.
Lochmiller II was given an eight-year sentence and ordered to pay restitution totaling more than $18 million, while Carver got a two-year sentence and a $2.5 million restitution order.
In addition to his prison term, Lochmiller Sr. also was ordered to pay more than $18 million in restitution.
In all, the trust that was formed to make distributions now holds about $750,000.
Holders of approved claims, which total more than $16 million, will receive 4.5 to 5 percent of their claim amount. Payments will vary to each individual based on how much they invested in Lochmiller's company.
"I suppose there were a couple, 300 building sites, they just didn't have much value," Rider said. "We were able to clear the title to all of them through the bankruptcy process so that we didn't have struggles between the various creditors about whose lien was in first place and whose was in second."
In September 2013, the trust made interim distributions to creditors and investors, but that didn't amount to much. It was only about $73,000 in all, so a creditor with an approved claim of $25,000, for example, received about $100.
Rider is asking those who have claims to contact his office first through his firm's website, gjbusinesslaw.com, for more information. He wants any approved claim-holders to contact the office if their address has changed, or, in the case of those who may have since died, for their families to contact them.
Those who don't have computers can call the law firm directly at 257-1917.