June 6, 2010 in Business

Alleged schemes and scams tarnish region’s image

By The Spokesman-Review
 

When it rains, it pours, and we’re not talking about the weather.

Reports of alleged misdeeds by Inland Northwest residents spill deluge-like from federal and state courthouses.

Last May, Forbes magazine fingered Spokane as the “Scam Capital of America.” Forbes runs many such lists, including a ranking of cities best for business that has treated Spokane very favorably.

Maybe all our suspected miscreants are just entrepreneurs gone astray.

Consider this all-too-fresh evidence of wrongdoing:

•Wednesday, the Idaho Department of Finance announced a consent agreement with Post Falls resident James C. Stone in which he neither admitted to nor denied any misbehavior – of course – but nevertheless agreed to stop. Specifically, he is accused of acting as an investment adviser with no Idaho license to do so. And he somehow managed to not tell investors of a past guilty plea regarding an investment scam that won him three years of lodging in a federal institution, and a requirement he make more than $170,000 in restitution.

•Tuesday, publication of a legal notice regarding the seizure and pending forfeiture of a motor home and Corvette belonging to Doris Nelson, president of LLS America LLC and affiliates that may have perpetuated a $50 million-plus Ponzi scheme. An Internal Revenue Service official declined comment, saying any underlying civil or criminal complaints – if any – are under seal.

•A U.S. District Court order late last month freezing the assets of Ryan Bishop and Michael Rohlf of Spokane, and blocking the sale of a bogus credit card “Liability Reduction Schedule.” For as much as $1,590, clients were told to pay their balances down faster. Genius. They also allegedly trampled all over do-not-call laws, in part by using illegal “robocalls.”

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission alleges their activity cost consumers millions.

•On May 19, another FTC action against Apply2Save Inc. and President Derek Oberholtzer was resolved with a final order by the U.S. District Court for Idaho. The company operated a Coeur d’Alene mortgage modification mill that suckered hundreds of homeowners. The bottom line is a $4 million judgment that will not be discharged by their bankruptcies.

•An April 16 Superior Court of Spokane County judgment against Anthony and Alicia Napier, of Colfax, for equity-skimming and violations of the Consumer Protection Act that carries $384,481 in restitution, fees and penalties. This is a second go-round for Anthony Napier, who served time for a previous episode. Alicia Napier, meanwhile, is scheduled for trial in July on charges she embezzled more than $500,000 from a urology clinic.

•An April 13 civil contempt order from the U.S. District Court in Chicago against Larry E. Pust of Spokane. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating a multimillion dollar housing investment fraud.

None of these goings on – underscore none – figured in the Forbes piece. And these are not all the cases reported in the last year. Some may yet be resolved in favor of the defendants.

But together these cases represent quite a storm.

We could use a little drought.


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