BOISE – An Idaho retirement fund trustee accused of raiding those accounts three years ago to help his failed bid to acquire Tamarack Resort insists he acted responsibly and with the ultimate goal of delivering significant investment return to the funds.
Defense lawyers for Matthew Hutcheson rested their case Thursday, clearing the way for the federal jury to begin deliberations on Monday.
Hutcheson, an independent fiduciary, faces 17 counts of wire fraud for allegedly taking $5 million from two retirement accounts he oversaw to buy luxury vehicles, remodel his house in Eagle and buy the mortgage on the bankrupt resort’s golf course, which is now in foreclosure.
Hutcheson has defended using the money on personal expenses as the cost of impressing and luring wealthy investment partners in his plan to acquire the resort. On the stand Thursday, Hutcheson said taking over the note on the golf course served two key elements in his plan: It gave him leverage to buy the rest of the resort at a bargain price and also met criteria for using retirement account money to achieve significant return on the investment.
Hutcheson, who initially proposed buying the ski resort for $40 million, said he never set out to cause harm to the hundreds of retirement account contributors who entrusted him with managing their savings.
“I believed I was behaving responsibly,” Hutcheson said under questioning from his attorney. “I wanted to help the participants make a great return … protect their principal.”
But federal prosecutors see Hutcheson’s actions in a different light.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Patricco tried to show Thursday that Hutcheson purposely tried to conceal his decisions and role in trying to buy Tamarack from his business colleagues affiliated with the retirement funds.
Patricco wrapped up his questioning of Hutcheson by taking the jury back to early July 2010. During a span of four days, Patricco cited records showing Hutcheson authorized the transfer of $130,000 out of one of the retirement accounts, then put some of the money into personal accounts and sent another $50,000 to the contractor building an addition and horse barn at his home.
The trial will resume Monday when attorneys deliver closing statements before the judge hands the case over to the jury.
If convicted, Hutcheson faces up to 20 years in prison on each count of fraud.