Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ogden Financier Gets the Criminal/Civil "Double Whammy"

And some basic investment advice for our LDS brothers and sisters

We've discussed the continuing legal troubles of Ogden "investment broker" Val Southwick on Weber County Forum at various times before; but we learn this morning from the Standard-Examiner that Southwick's legal problems have now kicked into high gear. We incorporate below the essential facts concerning Southwick's latest "double whammy" legal problems, as reported by veteran Std-Ex reporter Tim Gurrister:

OGDEN — Officials simultaneously filed state criminal charges and a federal Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit Wednesday against Ogden financier Val Southwick.

The filings list 817 investors who authorities say were bilked out of an estimated $140 million.

But one of Southwick’s lawyers said it’s possible the 61-year-old real estate speculator has enough assets to repay the money.
Ah yes... there's always that wishful glimmer of hope -- divine intervention, perhaps.

Southwick's jilted investors comprise a broad spectrum of investor types, from sophisticated professionals to "babes in the woods," according to this morning's story:

Southwick and VesCor raised more than $445 million from banks, professional investors and so-called “unsophisticated” investors — nonprofessionals typically entrusting Southwick with their life savings, according to an investigative summary released with the court documents by the Utah Division of Securities.
Here's the part however, that really sticks in our craw:

The summary said Southwick emphasized his membership and ecclesiastical roles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during solicitation meetings with investors.

“Southwick was touted to investors as a respectable LDS gentleman who was more concerned about the consequences of the after-life than those in this life if he lied to investors,” according to the summary.

“Investors appear to have lost $140 million of their life savings and retirement funds,” division director Wayne Klein said. “The fraudulent elements of the investment scheme remained hidden so long because Southwick kept assuring investors the company was profitable, then solicited money from new investors to pay interest to existing investors.”
We have little sympathy for bankers and professional investors who may have been taken in by Southwick's alleged ponzi scheme; but it's those trusting and financially unsophisticated "little people" for whom this seasoned investor feels the pain.

The fleecing of the flock at the local wardhouse is an all-to-familiar theme here in Utah we believe; and we wonder if devout LDS church-members will ever get wise to the fact that it isn't smart to put blind trust, (let alone your life savings or entire retirement account) into the hands of somebody who says he's real smart, just because you know him from church.

One reader said it best we think, in a comment under an article in today's Deseret Morning News on this same topic: "When you walk into an office full of ANY kind of religious memorabilia, count your fingers before you walk out."

Having said all this, we'll remind our gentle readers that, as to the pending charges, Mr. Southwick enjoys the benefit of the doubt -- and the legal presumption of innocence -- unless or until he's convicted or cops a plea.

Southwick's Vescorp Capital - in happier times:

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Update 2/7/08 10:28 p.m. MT: The Salt Lake Tribune also has a thorough writeup on this story, followed by a robust set of interesting reader comments.


googleboy said...

Vescor Capital Fraud

J. Spencer said...

"When you walk into an office full of ANY kind of religious memorabilia, count your fingers before you walk out."

The same applies for any important endeavor, politics, for instance.

ozboy said...

When this story first broke last year our dear integrity laden mayor was one of the first to come to this criminal's defense! He was quoted as saying what a long term and trusted family friend Val was!

Ahhh, birds of a feather do in fact hang together! Maybe this is where Godfrey learned his Ponzi scheme MO from?

DOA Mitt said...

Off topic here, but the Mittster is DOA! Guess the old and battered US Constitution will just have to keep hanging from that proverbial thread!

What will it costs us said...

Could our very own Mayor be a co-conspirator that helped Southwick in this fraud scheme, if he recommended to fellow church members to invest. The suits should include any unlicensed salesmen and others that knew of the fraud and deception but continued to sell the investments to their friends and church members. I do hope they can find the money to return to some of the investors. Maybe the Mayor can pony up some of his election fund to bail out his good friend. Birds that flock together you know..

ET said...



(money can't buy you love)
CNN front page:

Curmudgeon said...

What it Will Cost:

As I recall, Mayor Godfrey was one of the victims in the scam. He'd invested money with the scammer and he was one of those who stopped being paid, and who stood to lose his investment. The news story described victims like Godfrey as "unsophisticated" investors.

This same "unsophisticated" investor now trying to get his money back from the scammer assures us, based on his sound business judgment of course, that his $18 million dollar garage scheme is a good public investment, and that a flatland gondola --- the same he's been peddling for nearly four years now, unsuccessfully --- is a slam dunk can't lose proposition.

And the beat goes on....

ET said...



CNN only gave him 5 min of fame. Then they replaced him with other BREAKING NEWS. Must have been that article that the rest of the dems in Utah voted for Obama.

Don't worry. You can still pick it up in the side bars.

Bill C. said...

Rebel, In the wake of what must be disasterous news, I offer my condolence. But I assure you the world won't end because Mitts' own kind rejected him. I will grant you that I don't believe that Mitt could have screwed things up as bad as your current Pres has.
I also sympathize with you, but really don't lament the fact that your party is now faced with the near impossible task of convincing the voter that after all these years of trying Republican idea's, which have brought us to this point,we should be open to more of them as the solutions.
I do hope that which ever Democrat survives will finally be the first President in my memory that will truely put the interest of the American people ahead of any other self serving interests.

Curmudgeon said...


Mitt is a relatively young fella. He's not done. He's positioned himself well [piling up lots of good will with the Republican party for "taking one for the team" by bowing out now, for example]. McCain is a geezer and looks it. If McCain does not win, Mitt is instantly on the short list for the next Republican nominee, and even if McCain wins, I'd say the odds of his doing a second term are at best 50/50 and Mitt, again, is on the short list.

What is going to be really interesting now is to see who gets the Republican Veep nod. CW says Huckabee would be the smart choice, since he brings to the ticket precisely strengths McCain does not have. But the Republican establishing is scared as hell of Huckabee for a whole variety of reasons. He actually means all that "Christian nation" blather the Republican establishment has been paying lip serves to of late. Going to be very interesting to see who gets the nod. Will McCain put a right wing Christianist whacko who said recently he wants to amend the Constitution to make it consistent with God's law [as he, of course, understands it] one heart-beat away from the White House?

We live in interesting times. Damnit.

Bill C. said...

Hey Curm, do you think the pill popping obese airbag Limbaugh will do a 180 now that McCain seems to have it in the bag, word is he and his ilk have been trashing the guy for months now. Old Rush could justify his 180 change of heart by claiming he had a relapse a few months ago, but that would imply that he was rehabilitated prior.
Back to the subject at hand, wasn't Southwick an ardent gondola worshipper?

kcviigmv said...

see the Jesus freeks run this country

Anonymous said...

Good to see Val Scamwick is going to fess up to his "mistakes". Stealing millions of dollars from little old ladies is no mistake. How much of the stolen money was used to pay his scum bag lawyers? So he will admit to a couple of counts and perhaps serve a few years at club fed. He should be waterboarded to find out where all the money went.

Anonymous said...

Does the LDS church have to return the stolen money they received as tithing?

ET said...

Bill c.,

I agree with you. I know that:
"..... whichever Democrat survives will finally be the first President in (our collective memories)... who will truely put the interest of the American people ahead of any other self-serving interests..."

If not, we will take the fire to their toes. Considering the track record the next PRES will be following, it will not be hard.

As far as an Ogden Walmart side wall, I am sure MG is planning to get a local artist to do a riverlike mural on it.

But I do hope that Romney goes back to making money. I am sure the LDS church does, too. Or.........what do you think. A McCain / Romney ticket?!?

Bill C. said...

E.T., I hate to admit it, being an avowed independant, but the addition of Romney to McCains ticket would do nothing for me.
Nixon, Ford, Reaguns, Bushes, I may go through this life and never cast a vote for a Republican candidate.

What will it costs us said...

I read this article a few years back and it shows how Wal-Mart tries to bully the newspapers when it runs a not too flatering article, censorship and threats. Also states the cost for Georgia health care.

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