Laferte attorney moves to postpone trial date |

Laferte attorney moves to postpone trial date

Susan Laferte

The attorney for former Gold Country Lenders CFO Susan Laferte has filed a motion requesting a postponement of her fraud trial, which was scheduled to start April 9.

Laferte and CEO Phil Lester were indicted in mid-January by a criminal grand jury for allegedly defrauding investors of millions of dollars over a period of eight years. They already had been facing more than 60 felony counts of elder abuse, securities fraud and conspiracy, which had been filed in September by California Attorney General Maggy Krell.

Lester allegedly issued fractional deeds of trust secured by property that he either owned outright or in partnership with other developers, and Laferte allegedly solicited money for projects that then was used to pay investors on other projects in a risky shell game.

On many of the projects, investors allegedly were not informed that Phil Lester was the property owner, partner, developer, appraiser and/or borrower, as well as the loan broker. And unbeknownst to many of Lester’s investors, he had no money of his own to fund the projects or pay the investors.

“(T)he district is developing a strategic plan for the purpose of increasing the level of fundraising and other ways to secure outside funding for our curricular and extra-curricular program.”

— Marianne Cartan, NJUHSD superintendent

Investors allegedly were not told that their money would not be used for the stated purpose but instead would be used to make interest or principal payments to other investors — and that the investments were, in some cases, not secured as promised.

Laferte’s court-appointed attorney, Greg Klein, filed a motion Wednesday to postpone the trial; a hearing on his motion was set for Feb. 7.

Klein noted that his client was charged with 61 counts in the grand jury indictment and said he had not yet received a transcript of the proceedings, even though that was supposed to have been provided for him within 10 days.

According to Klein, the indictment named 37 alleged victims and named 10 other witnesses.

Klein said the trial date selected by Krell was “completely unrealistic” to mount an effective defense, adding that the Attorney General’s office had been investigating Gold County Lenders since March 2009 and citing a half-million pages of discovery.

The grand jury indictment handed down against Lester and Laferte supersedes the original complaint against those two defendants.

The criminal complaint filed by Krell originally also named Lester’s wife, Ellen, as a co-defendant; Krell dismissed two felony counts of conspiracy and securities fraud against Ellen Lester in November.

A fourth co-defendant, Jonathan Blinder, still faces four felony counts of securities fraud, and his preliminary hearing remains set for March 12.

Lester and Laferte currently are set to be in court for a pre-trial conference Feb. 28.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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