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Jury convicts would-be Tamarack buyer on all 17 fraud counts

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal jury has convicted a former Idaho retirement trustee on 17 counts of wire fraud for raiding those accounts in a scheme to buy Tamarack Resort. The jury deliberated for several hours Monday before finding Matthew Hutcheson of Eagle guilty on all counts. Hutcheson was working as an independent fiduciary when federal prosecutors say he took $5 million from two retirement funds he oversaw. Prosecutors argued that Hutcheson used some of that money to buy expensive vehicles and remodel his home and another portion to buy the mortgage on the resort's golf course. In closing statements, defense lawyers argued Hutcheson never meant to deceive and had investors' interests at heart. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count. Sentencing is set for July 23.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter Hannah Furfaro.

Jury convicts former Tamarack suitor of wire fraud
By HANNAH FURFARO, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho man once entrusted to oversee retirement accounts has been convicted of wire fraud for raiding those funds and using the money to enrich himself and help finance his scheme to acquire the failed Tamarack Resort. hometown

A federal jury deliberated for 3½ hours Monday before finding Matthew Hutcheson, of Eagle, guilty on all 17 counts of felony wire fraud.

During the trial and closing arguments Monday, federal prosecutors depicted the former independent fiduciary as someone who schemed to conceal his theft from investors and business colleagues. Prosecutors showed how Hutcheson took $5 million from two pension accounts, using a portion of the funds to buy luxury vehicles and remodel his home.

Prosecutors also cited documents showing funds were used to buy the mortgage on Tamarack's golf course, and disputed defense claims that the purchase was designed by Hutcheson to maximize returns for the retirees.

"We're pleased with the jury's verdict," Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Patricco said. "We believe justice was done and that the victims of the pension plans have been vindicated."

Hutcheson declined to comment after the verdicts were announced and ignored reporter questions as he exited the courtroom. His legal team also declined to comment.

He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count. The judge scheduled sentencing for July 23 and released Hutcheson on his own recognizance after ruling that he would not be a flight risk and has fully cooperated with the government throughout the case.

Hutcheson burst on the scene in Boise in November 2010, announcing at a press conference his intention to buy Tamarack ski resort for $40 million and rescue the floundering rural economy of Valley County. The resort, located 90 miles north of Boise, opened in 2004 and notched a visit from then-President Bush in 2005 before the real estate market crashed, taking Tamarack with it.

In 2008, majority investor Jean-Pierre Boespflug defaulted on loans and penalties now exceeding $300 million and owed by a syndicate led by Credit Suisse. The resort is now in foreclosure proceedings in state court.

But Hutcheson's plans also fell through after he failed to secure enough investment capital. He was later indicted by a federal grand jury of wire fraud for raiding the pension accounts, but from the start maintained his actions were both noble and ultimately designed to benefit investors.

During the trial, his attorneys set out to show that buying the expensive vehicles and the remodel projects to his house were essential to be taken seriously by future investors.

In closing arguments Monday, assistant federal public defender Robert Schwarz said if his client truly intended to steal money, he would have diverted it to offshore accounts and then planned to flee the country. Instead, buying the note for the golf course was in line with the plan to buy the resort on the cheap and securing a handsome return for the retiree accounts.

"No matter how the government wants to spin it, they cannot tell you what his intent is, what was going on in his mind ... but he can, and he did," he said. "People are not infallible, but what's important in this case is Mr. Hutcheson was trying to do the right thing."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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