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Prosecution calls final witnesses in Liddle trial
Liddle expected to take stand next week
The prosecution rested its case Thursday afternoon against William and Rhonda Liddle after questioning three more witnesses.
The Liddles are on trial in U.S. District Court in Phoenix on 68 counts of conspiracy, money laundering and fraud. The charges stem from a case in which the federal government alleges Liddle approved millions of dollars in bad loans while he was the business lending manager for AEA Credit Union. In turn, he alledgedly received more than $1 million in a kickback scheme through the loan holder.
FBI agent Joseph Montoya testified that while he was investigating the case, he approached Rhonda Liddle in November 2009 in a church parking lot after she dropped her two daughters off.
Montoya said he introduced himself and informed her he was conducting an investigation into her husband as well as Frank Ruiz and Dan Thelen, who each received millions of dollars in AEA loans approved by Liddle.
Montoya testified he told Rhonda Liddle the consequences would be prison and encouraged her to cooperate with the FBI.
According to Montoya, Rhonda Liddle responded: “Are you asking me to choose between my husband of 25 years and the FBI?”
Liddle resigned from AEA the next month.
Wednesday, Montoya testified that Ruiz would receive checks made out to himself for cash, each for several thousand dollars. Shortly after, Rhonda Liddle would made a deposit into the couple's personal account with Chase for the same amount, he said.
In their cross examinations, Liddle's attorney made the point that the Liddles didn't make any attempt to hide their name while Rhonda Liddle's attorney said her name was on only a few of the deposit slips.
However, it was noted that it was her handwriting on the deposit slips.
Next on the stand was Andrew Chambers, an attorney who said he had interviewed Rhonda Liddle in 2010 about the couple's finances. He testified that Rhonda Liddle told him she handled the finances and that she had acknowledged to him that she had made cash deposits from 2005 to 2010.
Then IRS Special Agent Kathleen Neri took the stand. She testified she had reviewed 45,000 pages of documents in the case and prepared a summary chart.
Neri said according to the Liddles' bank account, they had a total of $267,250 dollars in income from wages and bonuses from 2006 to 2009 but that their expenses far exceeded that income.
During the same time, she said, the Liddles deposited more than $163,000 in cash and more than $191,000 in wire transfers.
Defense attorney David Eisenberg observed that the basis of the case is that money was going to the Liddles' account.
The prosecution rested its case at 4 p.m. and the jury was dismissed until Tuesday morning.
Liddle is expected to take the stand next week.
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSJoyceLobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.
The Yuma Sun and KSWT-TV are partnering to cover the AEA fraud trial in Phoenix and will have daily coverage in both the Yuma Sun and on KSWT as well as Yuma.Sun.com and KSWT.com.