UPDATE: Former Top of the Kress owner testifies against Liddles

January 27, 2012

UPDATE: Former Top of the Kress owner testifies against Liddles

Posted: Updated:
Former Top of the Kress owner, Frank Ruiz Former Top of the Kress owner, Frank Ruiz

UPDATE: Phoenix, AZ January 27, 2012 at 12:20pm -- Friday morning testimony has wrapped up in the AEA Fraud Trial.  Frank Ruiz continued testifying discussing wire transfers.  Ruiz testified saying he was giving funds to William Liddle and even provided items such as a vehicle.  Ruiz says the wire transfers came from Ruiz's CTW account.

Additionally, Ruiz says he would pay bills for Liddle including his bill at the Yuma Country Club and was also putting cash into a Foothills Bank where Liddle was getting money.

Court has adjourned for a break.


Phoenix, Arizona January 25, 2012 - In the second day of trial, Assistant US Attorney Peter Sexton continued questioning former Yuma Fun Factory owner Dan Thelen about his business dealings with William "Bill" Liddle, the former AEA Federal Credit Union vice president whom he says got him into $15 million worth of debt.

In court proceedings, Thelen testified that his only clients were AEA (jobs referrals from Bill) and Desert Best Distributing (former Top of the Kress owner Frank Ruiz's business).

Thelen also told the jury about the FBI's visit to his home on March 4, 2010 and a subsequent conversation he had with Liddle about that visit.

Soon after that conversation, Thelen said Rhonda Liddle dropped off a handwritten note from Bill Liddle.  In that note submitted into evidence (Exhibit 712), Thelen read the eight points contained within the note:

  1. [Liddle] not a member of senior management
  2. No cash book - all funds from account
  3. Transactions were approved by AEA Federal Credit Union
  4. All transactions were reviewed by auditors and regulators
  5. All terms and conditions were standard
  6. All transactions had economic substance
  7. Once approved, AEA can't dictate how funds are used twice removed.
  8. Liddle advised Thelen that loan was not a problem because AEA approved the disbursement and fully-supported the sale leaseback.

Upon cross examination, Liddle's Attorney David Eisenburg asked Dan Thelen about his resume and cover letter as well as his MBA education he received online from Auburn University.

Eisenburg also cross-examined Thelen on the construction inspector jobs he took on through Liddle's referrals between 2008 and 2009:  the Lynnwood project ($40,000), the Kneader's project ($35,000) and the Radisson Hotel-Yuma (income not mentioned in court).

After mentioning Liddle's assistance in giving Thelen $25,000 loan to buy a truck for his construction inspection jobs, Eisenburg said, "You can thank Bill Liddle for that."

"Yes," replied Thelen.  "And AEA."

Rhonda Liddle's Attorney Mark Paige cross-examined Thelen briefly concerning the time Thelen, Bill Liddle and Phillip Jones broke into Desert Best Distributing

Sexton also called former owner of the Top of the Kress Frank Ruiz to the stand.  Ruiz plead guilty to two counts of a 68-count indictment for his involvement with the Liddles' conspiracy and money laundry schemes. 

In pleading out, Ruiz currently will serve a maximum 15 years in prison.  In exchange for his testimony against the Liddles, Ruiz is hoping to receive a reduced sentence.  Federal Judge Susan Bolton, who is hearing the federal case against the Liddles, is also the judge in Ruiz's sentencing hearing (March 16).


KSWT News 13 and The Yuma Sun are partnering to cover the AEA Fraud Trial in Phoenix and will have daily coverage on both KSWT News 13 and in the Yuma Sun, as well as KSWT.com and YumaSun.com.

Visit our special AEA Fraud Trial Section: http://www.kswt.com/category/230222/aea-fraud-trial 
Read Yuma Sun's Coverage: www.Yumasun.com

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