Phoenix, Arizona January 24, 2012 The prosecution's first witness in the AEA Federal Credit Union scandal testified how his one-time close friend ultimately took him down a path of insurmountable debt and foreclosures.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton presides over the case where William and Rhonda Liddle are charged on 68 counts of money laundering schemes and kickbacks, along with former Top of the Kress owner, Frank Ruiz. Ruiz plead guilty last June is expected to testify against the Liddles.
Dan Thelen told a jury of 10 women and six men of business dealings he had with William (Bill) Liddle and his wife, Rhonda. On the stand, Thelen testified that a close friendship grew between his and the Liddle's family. Between 2005 and 2008, Thelen worked as a Information Systems Director at Yuma Regional Medical Center where he earned. Thelen met both Bill and Rhonda Liddle in January 2006. On the surface, both families had things in common: two daughters of similar ages and all enjoyed family get-togethers.
The Thelens' Yuma home that they bought in 2006 had $60,000. Thelen testified the Liddles buying a home with $413,000 in cash impressed him. Bill Liddle, who was the Vice President of Business Loans at AEA Federal Credit Union at the time, had approached Thelen about becoming an entrepreneur.
According to Thelen, Liddle gave him a loan to start Desert Capital Partners LLC in Yuma. He also suggested that he purchase a property next to the Top of the Kress owned by Frank Ruiz. Liddle eventually got Liddle to take on more debt and had him take out a loan for $3.3 million dollars to buy the Yuma Fun Factory.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Sexton submitted exhibits into evidence which showed checks written to Dan Thelen from AEA in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Under Liddle's direction, Thelen was to open a bank account at Chase Bank and then turn around and withdraw the same amount in $100 denominations and give them to either Bill or Rhonda.
The case against the Liddles continues all this week. Judge Susan Bolton expects the trial to continue to longer that March 2, 2012.
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