Posts tagged: Tamarack Resort
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 spokesman.com.
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 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.
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.
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.
Tamarack Resort owner Jean-Pierre Boespflug said today that he's selected Green Valley Holdings of Eagle to buy the Valley County ski resort, a move that could kick off additional bidding for the bankrupt golf and ski resort. That firm's Matthew Hutcheson announced earlier a $40 million cash offer for the resort; Boespflug announced today that he's selected that offer over two others, the AP reports. That means he'll submit it to a U.S. bankruptcy judge in mid-January; if the judge approves, other potential buyers could then submit additional bids to gain control of the property. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.
Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Skiers and snowboarders hoping to hit the slopes at Tamarack Resort should thank a federal bankruptcy court judge who gave his approval to using equipment and property necessary for skiing to begin Dec. 20, as planned. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers’ decision late Monday sets the stage for the first lift-serviced skiing at the resort since March 2009. Tim Flaherty, who is leading homeowners who are financing the skiing plan, says his group is “totally ramped up for this.” Myers’ endorsement was necessary because Tamarack’s equipment is collateral in the $300 million bankruptcy case. Lawyers for lenders led by Credit Suisse Group spent the day trying to convince Myers to move the beleaguered vacation getaway out of a reorganization — and into liquidation. Those proceedings are due to continue Tuesday morning.
Today’s new offer to buy Tamarack Resort for $40 million cash is one of five being considered by Jean-Pierre Boespflug, the French-born co-founder of the ski and golf resort, the Associated Press reports. “Obviously we’re happy that they’re interested,” Boespflug said. The five include a $42 million offer submitted in August by Salt Lake City-based Pelorus Group and three others whose details haven’t been disclosed; click below to read a full report from AP reporter Todd Dvorak.
That was a very strange press conference. Matthew Hutcheson, co-founder of Green Valley Holdings, took no questions from the press. Instead, he made a statement, then posed to himself and answered a series of questions, such as whether “JP” would be involved in the resort in the future. “We do not anticipate that he will be involved,” was the answer; JP is Jean-Pierre Boespflug, Tamarack Resort founder and former owner.
Hutcheson said he and his partners - his wife, Annette, and Larry, Scott and Rod Givens - are offering $40 million cash for Tamarack Resort, which he termed a “fair price.” He acknowledged that none of them have experience running a resort, but said they’ve “assembled an initial team of experts,” and if their offer is successful, they’ll bring in others with expertise “to make Tamarack a successful and viable going concern.”
Hutcheson is an independent fiduciary, a 40-year-old entrepreneur, an advocate of 401K reform and a bit of a mystery; check out this article from August in Retirement Income Journal headlined “The Gospel of Matthew Hutcheson.”
Hutcheson said today, “My professional career has been dedicated to securing and if possible enhancing the financial security of American workers.” He cited his push for regulatory reforms, and the insecurity Idahoans and others face in planning for secure retirements, particularly in this time of economic downturn. “We believe Tamarack’s future can be secured by taking a benevolent approach,” Hutcheson said, though he did not elaborate. He said he hopes to “enhance hope and economic vitality in Valley County.”
Green Valley Holdings LLC was established specifically to purchase Tamarack, Hutcheson said, finish construction projects there including the base village, and restore jobs. “This is a special property to us and for the state of Idaho. … We intend to be stewards of Tamarack, prudently safeguarding its resources,” he said. “Significantly greater work and investment lies ahead if our bid is accepted.” He said his offer calls for closing the sale no later than March 15, 2011.