April 16, 2013 in City

Pension fund overseer guilty of wire fraud

Money used in plan to buy Tamarack
Hannah Furfaro Associated Press
 

BOISE – 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.

A federal jury deliberated for 3 1/2 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 onto the scene in Boise in November 2010, announcing at a press conference his intention to buy the 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 George W. 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.

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