The Nevada County Economic Resource Council’s executive council accepted the resignation of its interim executive director Jon Blinder Wednesday afternoon, according to a news release.
Blinder was arrested Sept. 20 and charged with four felony counts of securities fraud and conspiracy in connection with his role as chief operating officer of Gold Country Lenders, a Grass Valley real estate company, according to California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Phil Lester, the company’s CEO, and Susan Laferte, CFO of Gold Country Lenders, also were arrested and charged with 66 felony counts of elder abuse, securities fraud and conspiracy.
Ellen Lester, Phil Lester’s wife, is accused of two counts of felony conspiracy and securities fraud,
“The Committee wishes to acknowledge the outstanding and invaluable job Mr. Blinder has done for the ERC since early 2012,” the release states. “At a recent meeting hosted by the cities and county, Mr. Blinder presented a state-of-the-art ERC report.
“Local government and community members commended his efforts and the impressive progression of the organization under his leadership.
“Executive committee members think highly of Mr. Blinder and hope the best as he focuses his attention on resolving recent issues that have surfaced for him personally.”
The charges against Blinder surround whether or not he disclosed information to investors regarding the presence of toxic waste on various real estate sites scheduled for development.
The Lesters and Blinder, along with two other partners, created Enlibra, Inc., a holding company into which were placed the projects that carried the highest number of investors and the most amount of money owed, according to the declaration of arrest.
The attorney general alleges Blinder “failed to inform investors in Enlibra of the toxic substance issues related to Kenny Ranch, Osborne Hill and South Auburn Street,” according to the arrest declaration.
“He further failed to clearly identify ownership of the
properties and failed to specifically inform investors that the projects contained within Enlibra were existing GCL projects which were already encumbered and unable to move forward.”
The ERC’s executive committee is developing a plan of action for transition, the release stated.
“We have an extremely strong and talented board.” Kimberly Parker, ERC board chair, said in its release.
“Upcoming activities such as the Economic Forecast Conference on Oct. 24 will move forward as planned.”
Blinder professed his innocence in a statement to The Union on Friday, a day after his arrest.
“As I am discussing my situation with counsel, I have realized that it is not the appropriate time to discuss this matter,” Blinder wrote. “I will answer all these untrue charges in due time.”
Blinder is set to be arraigned on Oct. 23 in Nevada County Superior Court.
Blinder was tasked with redefining the scope of the nonprofit’s mission and has done a capable job, said Robert Bergman, a Nevada City council member who also serves on the ERC’s executive committee.
Bergman said Blinder disclosed to him that Gold Country Lenders was under investigation during the ERC’s hiring process in January, but that Bergman “was completely satisfied with the conversations” they had at the time.
“I don’t regret the decision (to hire Blinder) one bit,” Bergman said Tuesday.
Bergman said that he doesn’t specifically recall if the executive committee discussed the ongoing investigation into Gold Country Lenders, which was reported by The Union in 2010, during the hiring process.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email email@example.com or call (530) 477-4239.
“We have an extremely strong and talented board.”
— Kimberly Parker, ERC board chair