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Posts tagged: Tamarack Resort

Tamarack announces upgrades, hiring, says troubled resort seeing ‘a new day’

Tamarack Resort says it will be investing $1.2 million into improvements to its mountain operations in anticipation of returning to seven-day-a-week skiing this year. “It’s a new day at Tamarack, and we’re looking forward to expanding operations to every day and elevating the resort experience for our homeowners and guests,” project manager David Papiez said in a news release. The resort will continue to have the Tamarack Municipal Association run the ski mountain. It’s also signed on Replay Resorts of Vancouver, B.C. to oversee operations for the resort as a whole, including gearing back up real estate sales with cottages and townhomes.

The resort near Donnelly, which has struggled financially and has run its ski lifts just four days a week since 2010, plans improvements to its snowmaking system and grooming, expansion of its terrain park, brush clearing and general updating; you can read the full announcement here. It’s also planning to hire about  40 additional employees this season. The resort is planning a mid-December opening.

Land Board votes unanimously to transfer Tamarack lease, clears way for ski season

Idaho’s state Land Board has voted unanimously, 5-0, to assign the state land lease for Tamarack Resort to the new owners, New TRAC, allowing the group to begin preparations for the upcoming ski season; the group acquired the resort in a sheriff’s bankruptcy sale in March. It will pay the $278,000 annual lease payments to the state, marking one of the state endowment’s most lucrative land leases; if the land were allowed to revert to timber harvest, the state’s endowment would make about $80,000 a year from it.

Among the requirements the state is placing on the new owners: New TRAC will have 10 years to complete and open the unfinished mid-mountain lodge, or remove it and reclaim the area. It will be required to either replace the removed Wildwood Lift, which was removed by creditors, or remove the concrete pads and reclaim the area. It will have until Dec. 31, 2019, to pay all current and back property taxes to Adams and Valley counties, which come to roughly $250,000, along with satisfying all penalties and interest and keeping current on future taxes. New TRAC also will pay an assignment fee of $32,795 to take over the lease, and assume all the rights and obligations of the previous Tamarack owners under the state lease. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Keith Ridler.

Land Board holding special meeting on Tamarack lease…

Idaho's state Land Board is holding a special meeting this morning, and the sole item on the agenda is assignment of the lease for Tamarack Resort. The board's currently in a closed executive session, but must reconvene in open session to make any decision. The assignment of the lease to a new ownership group dubbed New TRAC could be a turning point for the financially troubled ski resort near Donnelly; operators hope to run the ski lifts seven days a week in the upcoming season, rather than just four. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Keith Ridler.

The reason for the special meeting: The lease assignment otherwise would have been considered at the next regular Land Board meeting on Oct. 28, but New TRAC said that wouldn't give it the time it needs to gear up for the upcoming ski season, including hiring, marketing, pre-season pass sales, and brush-cutting and building and chairlift maintenance on the mountain. The resort expects to hire 150 to 160 people for the ski season, New TRAC project manager David Papiez told the Land Board in a Sept. 18 letter, and needs to get started now; that's 30 to 40 more employees than it had when the lifts ran only four days a week. 

Land Board to consider new lease for Tamarack Resort, possible new chapter for troubled ski area

Tamarack Resort could take a significant step toward a clearer financial picture Thursday when Idaho officials decide whether to transfer a ski area lease to a new company that emerged after a sheriff's bankruptcy sale last spring, the AP reports. But first a majority of the five-member Idaho Land Board will have to be persuaded at the special meeting that Tamarack can afford about $278,000 annually to use the 2,100 acres of state-owned land the ski area is built on overlooking Cascade Lake. The lease represents one of the state's more lucrative deals, writes AP reporter Keith Ridler; it's far more than the estimated $80,000 annually the land would generate if it reverted to timber harvest.

Would-be Tamarack Resort buyer gets 17+ years in prison for fraud

The Idaho man who once tried to take control of the cash-strapped Tamarack Resort has been ordered to spend more than 17 years in prison for raiding other people's pension funds to help finance the deal, the AP reports. The sentence was handed down today in federal court for Matthew Hutcheson, who starting in 2010 went public with his intentions to buy the struggling ski resort outside Donnelly, but the deal never materialized. In April, the Eagle man was convicted of 17 counts of wire fraud as part of a scheme to steal $5 million from pension funds he was trusted to oversee. He also was ordered to pay more than $5 million in restitution.

Federal prosecutors say he used some of the money to enrich himself and another portion to buy a stake in Tamarack's golf course. The judge ordered Hutcheson to begin serving his prison term immediately. You can read the U.S. Attorney's full announcement here about the case.

Wendy Olson, U.S. Attorney for Idaho, said, “Mr. Hutcheson placed his own personal interests and greed above the clients’ whose retirement interests he pledged to safeguard. This office will continue to take pension fraud very seriously and hold accountable those who seek personal gain from others’ hard work through fraud and deceit.  I commend the federal law enforcement officers who conducted the thorough investigation and Assistant United States Attorney Ray Patricco for his outstanding prosecution of this case.”

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi said, “He funded a life of luxury at the expense of hundreds of people who were just trying to save for retirement.  This case is indicative of our close and continued partnership with fellow federal agencies to vigorously pursue those who abuse their positions of trust and commit crimes against employee benefit plan participants.” Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller, who reports that at the close of the sentencing hearing, Hutcheson was stripped of his necktie and tan suit jacket and led away in handcuffs.

DOJ seeks prison for would-be Tamarack Resort buyer

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A man who once sought to take control of an Idaho ski resort using millions stolen from retirees should go to prison for 210 months, federal prosecutors wrote this week in their sentencing recommendation. Matthew Hutcheson was convicted in April of 17 counts of wire fraud after prosecutors charged him with raiding pension funds to buy cars, remodel his Eagle home and acquire Tamarack Resort. He's due to be sentenced July 31. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Patricco wrote Wednesday in his recommendation that Hutcheson is an unrepentant schemer who would go to any lengths to deceive and take advantage of others to help himself. The sentence is necessary, Patricco added, to promote respect for the law and convince Hutcheson that he, not the government, is responsible for his legal predicament.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Tamarack auction postponed

A planned public auction of building materials, furnishings and unfinished construction projects at the failed Tamarack ski and golf resort in central Idaho has been put on hold for at least another two months, the AP reports; materials and furnishings had been scheduled to be auctioned off Monday, from electrical wiring to an elevator car, bathtubs, restaurant equipment and more. Then, the resort's unfinished plaza and a portion of the Lodge at Osprey Meadows were to go on the block on Tuesday. Now, the auctions have been postponed until at least early September; click below for a full report from the Associated Press.

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.

Would-be Tamarack buyer’s trial opens in federal court

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Jury selection is complete in a case where a retirement fund trustee is fighting federal prosecutors' claims he stole money from clients to help finance his failed bid to buy an Idaho ski resort. Matthew Hutcheson's trial in U.S. District Court in Boise began Wednesday and may last until April 19. He is accused of stealing $5 million to help buy Tamarack Resort, where President George W. Bush vacationed and where tennis great Andre Agassi tried building a luxury hotel. Hutcheson was indicted in 2012, on 31 federal counts. Prosecutors aim to convince a jury Hutcheson took retirees' money, to enrich himself and to buy financially-crippled Tamarack in Donnelly. Hutcheson, an independent fiduciary from Eagle, argues he acted in a “legal manner” in discharging duties as a retirement account trustee.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Attorney for indicted would-be Tamarack buyer wants off the case

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― The lawyer for a would-be Tamarack Resort buyer who is under indictment wants off the federal fraud case, citing communication problems and a potential conflict of interest. Eagle-based lawyer Dennis Charney filed paperwork Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boise, asking a judge to relieve him of his duties representing Matthew Hutcheson. Hutcheson was charged earlier this year with diverting some $5 million from retirement accounts he oversaw to help finance his failed bid to buy Tamarack, a struggling resort 90 miles north of Boise. Charney says he and Hutcheson disagree over “strategy and presentation.” Moreover, Charney says he could be called as a witness at the criminal trial later this year because of unspecified evidence that may be brought by the government. Hutcheson faces decades in prison, if convicted; click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Sheriff’s sale nears for Tamarack assets; homeowners still plan ski season

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Lenders led by Credit Suisse Group could quickly ask for a sheriff's sale of Tamarack Resort assets now that an Idaho judge has refused to block their foreclosure case from advancing. The Swiss bank, whose lender group is owed some $300 million, declined to comment on Monday. But a Tamarack Municipal Association lawyer says a sheriff's sale could be concluded in about 60 days. That wouldn't completely unravel Tamarack's tangled finances. Additional creditors with millions in separate claims to resort assets still need the Idaho Supreme Court's permission before a district court judge can process them. Meanwhile, one Tamarack ski lift has been removed and homeowners booked a $300,000 loss last ski season. Tamarack Municipal Association director Tim Flaherty says his group still plans another ski season, starting this December. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Hutcheson, who sought to buy Tamarack, arrested by FBI, charged with fraud, theft

Eagle businessman Matthew D. Hutcheson, who made a bid to buy failing Tamarack Resort, was arrested by the FBI today as a federal grand jury indicted him on 17 counts of wire fraud and 14 counts of theft from an employee pension benefit plan. The charges include that in 2010 and 2011, Hutcheson, 41, allegedly misappropriated millions in pension plan assets for his personal use, including to renovate his home, to purchase luxury cars, motorcycles, ATVs and a tractor, and to put up $3.2 million toward his bid to buy Tamarack. Wendy Olson, U.S. Attorney for Idaho, said, “We take allegations of pension fraud very seriously. I commend the federal law enforcement officers who conducted the deliberate and detailed investigation in this case.” You can read Olson's full announcement here, and the federal indictment here.

Tamarack also offering discounts to bereft Bogus Basin passholders

Tamarack Resort - which unlike Bogus Basin is open for skiing, thanks in part to snowmaking - is joining Brundage Mountain in offering discounts to out-of-luck Bogus Basin season passholders. The resort has announced it'll charge $25 on Thursdays with a Bogus pass, down from the usual $49; and $35 Fridays through Sundays and holidays; there's more info here.

Would-be Tamarack Resort rescuer faces financial questions, AP reports

A would-be buyer of Tamarack Resort in Idaho is the subject of new questions, as AP reporter John Miller reports that Matthew Hutcheson is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor, plus faces liens on his home plus bad checks and a former employee's lawsuit totaling $350,000. Click below for Miller's full report.

Tamarack homeowners work to buy, open ski lifts

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Tamarack Resort homeowners want to buy two ski lifts that Bank of America has been trying to tear out. Tamarack Municipal Association director Tim Flaherty told The Associated Press on Tuesday he's been in discussions with the bank. Bank of America was stiffed on the lifts by Tamarack majority owner Jean-Pierre Boespflug, who disappeared this year when the bank sought $4 million. Even with Boespflug on the lam, Flaherty says he's also working to open the ski resort for a second straight year. Tamarack Municipal Association ran a limited season last year on a $1 million budget, earning a small profit. Flaherty is now in talks with Idaho over another sublease to 2,100 acres of public land where the ski runs are located, in advance of a Dec. 15 opening.

Credit Suisse: ‘Meritless’ claims are ‘attempt to shift blame’

Steven Vames, vice president for corporate communications for Credit Suisse bank, has issued this statement on the latest legal filings in federal court in Idaho, in which Alfredo Miguel, founder and former board chairman of the failed Tamarack Resort in Idaho, and Tim Blixseth, founder and former manager and developer of the Yellowstone Club in Montana, have filed to intervene in a pending lawsuit against Credit Suisse, charging the Swiss bank with fraud, conspiracy and more, in a scheme they charge directly contributed to the financial failure of both resorts:

“Credit Suisse rejects Mr. Blixseth's and Mr. Miguel's entirely meritless allegations and their attempt to latch onto an existing suit which has already seen many of the plaintiffs' claims dismissed. For Mr. Blixseth in particular, this is simply the latest attempt to shift blame to others and away from his own conduct.”

The lawsuit's racketeering claim under the federal RICO Act, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, was dismissed in March as not applicable to the case. Other claims, however, including charges of fraud, conspiracy, tortious interference and breach of fiduciary duty, were allowed to proceed. You can read my full story here at

Tamarack founder sues Credit Suisse for racketeering, fraud, conspiracy, more

Alfredo Miguel, founder and former board chairman of the failed Tamarack Resort, and Tim Blixseth, founder and former manager and developer of the Yellowstone Club in Montana, have filed to intervene in a pending lawsuit against Credit Suisse, charging the Swiss bank with racketeering, fraud, conspiracy and more, in a scheme they charge directly contributed to the financial failure of both resorts.

The existing lawsuit, originally filed in January of 2010 by a group of property owners from four failed luxury resorts, charged the second-largest bank in Switzerland with engaging in a “predatory” lending scheme designed to force all four resorts into foreclosure, and acquire the pricey properties for pennies on the dollar while raking in “enormous” fees. In addition to Tamarack and the Yellowstone Club, the 2010 federal lawsuit covers two other failed luxury resorts: Lake Las Vegas in Nevada, and Ginn Sur Mer resort in the Bahamas.

The filings from Miguel and Blixseth charge that the two resorts suffered “defaults and foreclosures caused directly by shoddy, deceitful, misleading and fraudulent appraisals deliberately inflated by appraisers and lenders resulting in catastrophe for lending institutions, innocent borrowers and other parties collaterally affected by defaulting loans secured by property such as vendors, contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, title insurance companies and purchasers of real estate.”

The scheme, according to the legal filings, involved a “new and exotic real estate loan product” that Credit Suisse developed in 2004, targeting owners of high-end real real estate resort developments with the pitch that they could enjoy all the future profits and equity from their developments, just as, at the time, homeowners were tapping into their fast-rising home equities through loans. There were differences, though: Little to no risk to Credit Suisse, potential huge profits for the bank when the loans failed, and the bigger the loans, the higher fees the bank made. Plus, appraisal values for the properties were vastly inflated using a new methodology. As a result, the Yellowstone Club was appraised at $420 million in September of 2004, but in July of 2005, it was appraised at $1.165 billion. Tamarack was  appraised at $284 million in December of 2005, but one month later Credit Suisse told Miguel it was worth $1.5 billion.

The Swiss bank ran the huge loans through its Cayman Islands branch, which the new filings charge “consisted of a lonely PO box and no office personnel whatsoever,” stating, “The Cayman Island Branch of CSFB was an outright sham and subterfuge.”

When the original lawsuit was filed, a Credit Suisse spokesman said the bank believed the suit to be “without merit” and would defend itself “vigorously.” The original lawsuit seeks $8 billion in actual damages and $16 billion in punitive damages, including $150 million each for the four communities impacted by the failed resort projects. You can read the Miguel/Blixseth brief here; it includes an allegation that Credit Suisse and Highland Capital called Miguel to a meeting in Dallas in March of 2010, told him not to bring his lawyers, and leaned on him for $1.2 million saying that Highland Capital had a party who was “close to the FBI and was prepared to use 'unorthodox methods' to collect on the guaranty.”

Two Tamarack lifts targeted for removal, neither was used this season

Two ski lifts that weren't used this past season at Tamarack Resort are targeted for removal by Bank of America's leasing division after the bankrupt ski resort near Donnelly defaulted on payments; the bank is filing paperwork with the state to remove the two lifts, the AP reports; they're partly on state land that was leased for the resort. The two are a transport lift for homeowners, and a high-speed chairlift accessing intermediate and advanced terrain on the resort's northern boundary; their removal could hurt chances of reviving the resort. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Judge OK’s repossession of two of Tamarack’s ski lifts, neither in use now

Two of Tamarack Resort's chairlifts can be repossessed by Banc of America Leasing, a bankruptcy judge ruled today. The Associated Press reports that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers lifted an automatic stay that protected the two lifts as part of the central Idaho resort's pending bankruptcy case. Neither of the lifts - the Wildwood Express and the Buttercup chairlift - are in use now, during the resort's limited ski season this year. You can see where the two are at the resort on its trail map here.

In court documents, Banc of America Leasing & Capital LLC said Tamarack has made no payments on the two Dopplemayr CTC chairlifts since January of 2009, and the bankrupt resort has no equity in the lifts, whose value the leasing firm estimated at nearly $2 million, less a half-million in removal and transportation costs.  The firm also questioned whether Tamarack is adequately maintaining and insuring the unused lifts. The judge granted the leasing firm's motion orally during a hearing today; you can read the firm's successful motion here.

Bank still wants Tamarack lifts

The Bank of America still wants two of Tamarack Resort's ski lifts back as part of bankruptcy proceedings, and is accusing the troubled resort of holding the lifts hostage to extract more money for its assets. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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