Investors in GCL were not rich people
Thank you for your well written articles relative to the Gold Country Lenders investigation. As one of the victims of this case, I take extreme offense to a statement made by Nevada County Public Defender Don Lown. Mr. Lown states “It’s offensive to think that poor people are paying to defend these formerly rich people in order to get restitution for other rich people.” Mr. Lown has obviously not spent a great deal of time researching the victims of this case.
My husband and I have never been considered “rich” people. We worked hard every day to save the money that was lost at the hands of Phil Lester and his family. My husband continues to work well into his 70s so that we can try to recover from this huge loss. We invested with Gold Country Lenders out of trust from a 15-year friendship with Susan Laferte. The purpose of our investing was to supplement our Social Security in retirement — not because we were rich and wanted to get richer! Not out of greed, as some would like you to think. I have talked to and met many of the investor/lenders of GCL, and I can assure you the vast majority of us are not rich people. For a few of the investors, they did invest a sizable amount of their “savings,” but they were not wealthy people, and they certainly will never be. Their life savings are gone, and they are left to live on Social Security alone.
While I have sympathy for the residents of Nevada County that they should have to foot the bill to defend the Lester family, I also do not see Mr. Lown’s point. What would he like to do, allow the Lester family to walk away with no explanation as to what happened to more than $35 million of investors’ money? While we are left holding the bag on over-valued contaminated land that is seriously encumbered with the debt of Phil Lester and Gold Country Lenders? Perhaps if Mr. Lester had made the property tax payments on these projects, as most citizens of Nevada County do, then the county coffers would not be in as much trouble. Perhaps if he had paid his state and federal taxes, like the rest of us do, we would not now be saddled with judgments and liens that will more than likely have to be paid by the investors in order to recover anything. Mr. Lown should not be blaming the victims in this case, he should be taking a good hard look at the financials and integrity of Gold Country Lenders and Lester and Laferte.
The residents of Nevada County should be angry at the Lester family for putting them into a position of having to pay for their defense. Mr. Lown needs to keep in mind that many of the victims are Nevada County residents, so they too will be paying to defend the Lester family.
In the future, Mr. Lown should think before he speaks. I can assure him that very few, if any, of the investors were a part of the much talked about 1 percent.
Again, thank you for the well written stories.
Margaret Fowler lives in Nevada County.
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