Grand Junction Man Pleads Guilty In $30M Investment Scheme

Philip Lochmiller Jr. Faces Up to 15 Years In Prison, $500,000 Fine

A Grand Junction man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities and mail fraud and money laundering in a $30 million investment scheme, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver announced Wednesday.

Philip R. Lochmiller Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday, U.S. Attorney John Walsh, FBI Special Agent in Charge James Davis and IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Christopher M. Sigerson announced.

Lockmiller Jr., was an owner of Valley Investments in Grand Junction, according to court documents. He didn't deliver on a promise of returns as high as 18 percent for investors in their business of developing subdivisions with manufactured and mobile homes.

According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, Valley Mortgage, Inc. was incorporated in Colorado in September 1994 by Philip Lochmiller Sr. The company originally engaged in the business of originating or brokering home mortgages. Lochmiller Sr. owned 100 percent of Valley Mortgage’s stock and was principal, officer and director.

Lochmiller’s stepson, Philip Lochmiller Jr., joined Valley Mortgage in 1999 as a mortgage officer. Lochmiller Sr. then changed the name to Valley Investments. Lochmiller Jr. eventually worked his way to become responsible for day-to-day operations of the company, court documents indicate.

Beginning in 2000, Valley Mortgage entered into the "affordable housing" real estate market by buying vacant land or existing mobile home parks, entitling the land so residential subdivisions could be built, and then selling lots with either a mobile home or a manufactured home on it.

Valley Investments could not secure traditional sources of funding for their projects, primarily because Lochmiller Sr. had a prior fraud conviction and a bankruptcy, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Instead, the company often purchased land with financing provided by the sellers in an "owner-carry" arrangement. Valley Investments then began to advertise in local newspapers and solicit investment funds from the public.

Between 2000 and 2009, Valley Investments received more than $30 million from about 420 investor contracts. Once investor money started coming into Valley Investments, the funds went to personal expenses, family expenses and other nonbusiness expenditures. Lochmiller Jr. then engaged in monetary transactions involving more than $10,000 of the proceeds of the fraud, the attorney's office said.

"In cases like this, where investment schemers who take people’s hard-earned money -- particularly their retirement money -- on the basis of false promises and representations, federal law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute them aggressively," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "We will prosecute criminals who steal with the pen and the computer with the same vigor as we prosecute criminals who steal by other means."

"Defrauding investors is a serious offense and IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement partners to prosecute those who victimize clients," said Sigerson.

Lochmiller Jr. faces up to 15 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine, or twice the amount derived from the crimes. The status of the federal case against Philip Lochmiller Sr. was not immediately known.

The prosecution is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, according to the a statement issued Wednesday. Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement.