Phoenix, AZ Feb. 7 - Week 3 in the trial of a Yuma couple accused of committing fraud, conspiracy and money laundering against AEA Federal Credit Union.
During Tuesday's trial only two witnesses testified for the defense in the case. Both Bill Liddle and Rhonda Liddle's sister were on the stand. However, the defense started off by calling Rhonda's sister first. Her testimony was very brief. She testified Rhonda had no accounting background, worked as a waitress, and that Rhonda trusted her husband Bill.
The final witness to testify in the case was Bill Liddle. He was very engaging with the jury throughout his testimony. Liddle testified he worked for Bank of America and Bear Stearns in Tokyo for 8 years before moving back to the U.S. in 2003 in which the Liddle's moved to Scottsdale Arizona.
Liddle says in the move he shipped the family's things in a container. He says inside it included a safe with more than $280,000. Liddle says he did not declare the money that was in different currencies to customs but he did report it to the IRS.
Liddle moved to Yuma in November 2004 and started working at AEA as the business lending manager. He testified His wife and kids stayed behind in Scottsdale so their children could finish school and later move to Yuma.
Liddle testified that in 2006 he was pressured by AEA CFO to check to increase the volume of commercial loans. Liddle says in his tenure at the credit union he had lent out 100 million dollars in loans and 30 million went to Shelby Carl and his partner frank Ruiz along with Dan Thelen. He said the majority of his loans, modifications and increases to them were approved by the AEA CEO at the time, Ken Bredemeyer through verbal discussion. Through cross examination Assistant U.S. Attorney Monica Klapper asked if he had any documents to prove their discussion and he replied no and the fact he wasn't fired from AEA should speak for itself. Liddle resigned as the Vice President of Business Lending at AEA in December 2009.
As far as the 68 count indictment against the Liddles stating they received nearly 1 million dollars in kickbacks through AEA loan funds from Ruiz from May 2007 through February 2010 it's in correct. Liddle testified it's being mistaken for reimbursements he received from Ruiz and then after personally lending them cash from the money he made working in Japan. Liddle testified he cut ties with Ruiz after finding out he used AEA loan funds to purchase a classic corvette for Liddles wife. He says he never intended to harm or fraud AEA in any way.
Current CEO of AEA, Tom Martin, was in court today to listen to Liddle's testimony. Clapper will continue cross examination with Liddle tomorrow. The defense says they will have brief re-direct afterwards. The prosecution says they are not planning to call any rebuttal witnesses in which closing arguments are set to be presented by early afternoon. The case could be in the hands of the jury as early as Wednesday afternoon.