No decision on dismissal of Gold Country Lenders case
A judge delayed a decision on dismissing the criminal indictment against Gold Country Lenders CEO Philip Lester and CFO Susan Laferte.
After a hearing in Nevada County Superior Court Tuesday morning, Judge Candace Heidelberger took the matter under submission and is set to issue a ruling within two weeks.
But even if Heidelberger does dismiss the indictment by a criminal grand jury, that does not necessarily mean the state’s case is done for good. California Deputy Attorney General Maggy Krell could opt to re-file charges and proceed to a preliminary hearing into the evidence.
Laferte and Lester were indicted by the grand jury in January for allegedly defrauding investors of millions of dollars over a period of eight years.
They face 61 counts each — one count of using a scheme to defraud, 50 counts of offering securities for sale by means of an untrue statement or omission of a material fact and 10 counts of fraud from an elder adult. Their jury trial is currently set to start Sept. 17.
Laferte’s attorney, Greg Klein, and Lester’s attorney, Ken Tribby, filed a 106-page motion arguing that all 61 counts of the indictment should be dismissed because Krell failed to offer a significant amount of exculpatory evidence in the case, evidence that could prove that Lester and Laferte are innocent of the charges against them.
According to Krell, the evidence was properly presented, and she did not mislead the grand jury.
Both sides went over much of the same ground covered in their moving papers during the hearing Tuesday.
Klein angered many of the alleged victims in the audience when he suggested that they were victims, not of fraud, but of a collapsing real estate market or “their own greed.”
“They were provided disclosure documents and they chose not to read them,” he said,
Tribby echoed him on the question of causation, noting that nobody got their money back and saying that the alleged victims’ financial losses were due to the bottom falling out of the market.
“The defense talks about risky investments, and the prosecution doesn’t dispute that,” Krell said. “The point is, the victims were lured into a pattern of trust.”
Krell argued that her presentation to the grand jury was open and candid and that she built a “solid, credible” case.
Heidelberger chose to take the matter under submission and said her ruling would be issued by July 9.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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