An indicted Eagle money manager, accused of bilking investors as part of a $40 million scheme to buy Tamarack Resort, has had the terms of his freedom curtailed by a federal judge. In Friday's hearing at the U.S. District Courthouse in Boise, U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ordered Michael Hutcheson and his associates not to solicit investors pending his trial.
Hutcheson is accused of taking $5 million from his clients' retirement funds to leverage a $3.2 million loan to purchase the Tamarack golf course. He's also accused of using some of the funds to remodel his home. Hutcheson's attorneys argue that their client should be able to market the loan in order to recover funds for the retirement accounts but Dale disagreed.
On April 19, shortly following a 31-count indictment, Hutcheson's father-in-law, Brad Mason, showed up at the Valley County resort to show off Tamarack to potential investors.
Dale said that Mason could remain as Hutcheson's custodians but was warned not to violate Hutcheson's release conditions.
The legal mess that is Tamarack will once again be debated in a federal courtroom today. A hearing is scheduled in U.S. District Court in Boise surrounding the case of Matthew Hutcheson, the Eagle investor charged with wire fraud and theft in an elaborate plan to buy Tamarack in 2010.
At Hutcheon's April 12 arraignment, he was released into the custody of his father-in-law, John Mason of Donnelly, with a condition that Hutcheson not be allowed to collect funds from investors. But one week after Hutcheson's release, Mason showed up at Tamarack asking to show off the resort to clients. Mason said that he was acting on behalf of Hutcheson's company, Green Valley.
Federal prosecutors are asking for a ruling on whether Hutcheson violated the conditions of his release and to determine if his father-in-law is an appropriate custodian. Prosecutors said Mason's actions were "tantamount to the defendant marketing and selling the note, and arguably violates (the condition) that the defendant not collect any funds from any investor of any type.”
An Eagle businessman who stood before the media 17 months ago, saying he had a plan to buy the Tamarack ski resort for $40 million, is facing a string of federal charges, including 17 counts of wire fraud. An attorney representing Matthew Hutcheson, a fund manager, said his client was not guilty and was simply investing other people's money. But federal prosecutors said Hutcheson stole funds to, among other things, purchase an interest in the Tamarack Resort's golf course, renovate his Eagle home and purchase personal vehicles.
In November 2010, Hutcheson, as part of the Green Valley Holdings group, said that while he had no experience in running a resort, he was willing to "offer $40 million cash for Tamarack." At the hastily called press conference, Hutcheson refused to answer any questions. Hutcheson's self-imposed deadline of March 15, 2011, came and went with no deal.
Prosecutors allege that Hutcheson misappropriated approximately $3.2 million of his investors' funds to try to purchase Tamarack.
A group of Tamarack homeowners has purchased one of two chair lifts at the resort that had been threatened with foreclosure. The homeowners raised a total of $400,000: $300,000 to purchase the Buttercup lift from Bank of America and an additional $100,000 for maintenance.
The McCall Star News reported Thursday that the fate of a second lift, the Wildwood, is still in doubt. The Wildwood lift climbs 1,650 feet to the north side of the resort and the main Tamarack run. Bank of America said it lost more than $4 million on the two lifts when the owners of Tamarack stopped making payments. B of A was given permission to dismantle the lifts by a bankruptcy judge last year. Homeowners had offered to purchase the Wildwood lift for $2 million, but the bank said it wanted at least $3 million.
Meanwhile, the Tamarack Municipal Association continues to operate the ski area at the bankrupt resort, awaiting a potential buyer.
Bank of America wants to move forward with removing two ski lifts from the Tamarack Resort but without conditions.
The Star News reports that Valley County commissioners will hear an appeal on Sept. 6. Valley County Planning and Zoning commissioners gave a green light on July 18 to Bank of America to remove the lifts, attaching several conditions, including approval from Tamarack homeowners on operating plans and securing an OK from the Federal Aviation Administration on flight plans for helicopters that will remove the lift towers. The Star News reported that B of A claimed a number of the conditions were either vague or unnecessary.
If and when the Buttercup and Wildwood lifts are removed, Tamarack will still have five operable ski lifts.
The McCall Star News reports that two ski lifts are one step closer to being taken away from the troubled Tamarack Resort. Banc of America Leasing and Capital got a favorable ruling this week from Valley County commissioners to move forward with its efforts to remove the lifts once the leasing company gets the proper permits.
Banc of America (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of America) lost more than $4 million on the Buttercup and Wildwood lifts when the owners of Tamarack Resort stopped paying the mortgage payments.
The Tamarack Municipal Association, a group of homeowners who successfully reopened the mountain for skiing last winter, appealed to the county commissioners, saying that if the lifts were taken, the chances of finding a single buyer for the resort would be increasingly difficult. But commissioners voted three to one to allow the lifts to be removed.
A bench warrant has been issued for Jean-Pierre Boespflug. The controversial developer of Tamarack failed to appear today before Fourth District Judge Michael McLaughlin. As a result, McLaughlin ordered Boespflug in contempt, issued a warrant and slapped a $5,000-a-day fine on the developer. McLaughlin had originally ordered Boespflug to disclose Tamarack's financial records.
Boespflug is still missing, and remains the majority owner of the bankrupt Valley County resort. Tamarack opened this past winter for skiing in an effort to keep the resort viable to possible buyers.
A federal judge has thawed some of the hopes of the current owner, operators and potential buyers of the Tamarack Resort.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers has shifted the troubled Valley Country resort from Chapter 11 protection back to state court. Under Chapter 11, the resort was expected to "remain whole," easing sale of the entire entity. In December 2010, Green Valley Holdings of Eagle offered to buy Tamarack for $40 million. The investment group indicated that it would be much more difficult to complete a purchase of "bits and pieces" of the resort.
By moving Tamarack's case back to state court, foreclosure proceedings may eventually proceed, and that, in turn, could result in a sheriff's action of assets to pay back the many millions to creditors including lender Credit Suisse and the scores of contractors and subcontractors never paid for their work at the resort.
$40 million, $1 million deposit. That's basically the deal Tamarack's board of directors chose as its preferred buyer. The mysterious Green Valley Holdings of Eagle (which still hasn't answered any media inquiries) was selected Wednesday, Dec. 22 as the preferred purchaser of the Valley County resort.
It has been quite a week for Tamarack, seeing its ski lifts go full-tilt for the first time in 20 months and now having a possible buyer.
J.P. Boespflug, the creator and current debtor-in-possession of Tamarack, stood in the shadow of a Christmas tree at Banbury Golf Club in Eagle and used a stocking-full of metaphors.
On the resort's bankruptcy status: "Chapter 11 is bit like being in a hospital. But you have little access to modern medicine."
Regarding the negotiation: "When you're going through a divorce, you have to consider the children."
On striking a deal: "It a little like an engagement, but then you somehow have to get to the marriage."
On selling the resort: "It feels like when you become an empty-nester. Your teenage kids don't want to talk to you, but maybe someday when they grow up you'll have a good relationship with them again."
Boespflug considered three offers to buy the resort from Pelorus Group of Salt Lake City, JMA Ventures of San Francisco, and Green Valley Holdings. Green Valley's offer was chosen because they had the highest bid ($40 million), an adequate deposit ($1 million) and proof of funding.
Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers still has to sign off on the deal.
"How long will it take?" asked Boespflug. "Sometimes it's a matter of days. Sometimes it's months. You guys can put your wagers on what might happen next."
"It's been a long 21 months," Tamarack Municipal Association General Manager Tim Flaherty told Citydesk Monday morning. "But this is very exciting news."
Flaherty was front row-center for the announcement that Green Valley Holdings of Eagle had unveiled a $40 million cash offer to purchase Tamarack. Flaherty told Citydesk that he didn't know too much about the Idaho-based LLC, except when a team from Green Valley began a recent due-diligence process at the Valley County resort.
"We've been quietly working on the acquisition for many months," Green Valley co-founder Matthew Hutcheson announced at Boise's Cottonwood Grille, the scene of a hastily presented press conference.
"Does Green Valley have any experience running a resort of this sophistication?" Hutcheson asked of himself.
"No. We've assembled an initial team of experts and we're prepared to bring in others to make Tamarack a successful and viable concern."
"What are the terms?"
Hutecheson answered himself, "We're offering $40 million dollars cash. The offer doesn't contain any financing condition."
Hutcheson said the deal is contingent on a closing date no later than March 15, 2011.
How about much of the unfinished construction at Tamarack?
"We expect to complete the Tamarack village," said Hutcheson. "We respect the vision of the Tamarack founders."
But that doesn't mean they respect Tamarack's original owner.
"We don't anticipate that J.P. Boespflug will be involved in the operation," said Hutcheson.
Does Credit Suisse, the Idaho State Land Board or the Tamarack Municipal Association support the bid?
"This offer hasn't been formally discussed with any of the parties," said Hutcheson. "Those conversations are expected in the next few weeks."
Flaherty gladly spoke to Citydesk on Monday.
"We're still on track to open Dec. 20," Flaherty smiled. Flaherty and his fellow homeowners have secured approval from the Land Board to conduct a full ski operation this season.
"We're hiring daily," said Flaherty. "It's full steam ahead."
Flaherty said snow-making operations have already begun.
"Mother nature is helping," said Flaherty. "We'll start track-packing in the next couple of weeks, and then a couple of days before we open, we'll perform our final grooming."