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AEA acquires another former Ruiz property
AEA Federal Credit Union has acquired the deed to yet another property formerly owned by Frank Ruiz in the latest trustee sale of the former businessman's holdings.
In the trustee sale held Tuesday morning on the steps of the Yuma County Courthouse, the downtown building at 278 S. Main St. reverted to AEA as the beneficiary for the opening bid of $584,506.
According to the Yuma County Assessor's Office, the property is valued at $120,000 for 2013 property tax purposes.
The building was among properties Ruiz had acquired through $22 million in fraudulent loans from AEA arranged by William Liddle while Liddle was the vice president of business lending for the credit union.
The loans and other misuse of AEA funds led to the indictments of Liddle, his wife, Rhonda, and Ruiz on 64 counts of conspiracy, fraud and transactional money laundering.
Ruiz pleaded guilty to two counts and agreed to testify against the Liddles and in turn received a lighter sentence of two years in prison. A jury in February convicted Liddle of 54 counts and Rhonda Liddle of 36 counts. The Liddles are to be sentenced May 21.
At the time of the purchase, Ruiz said he needed the building to provide a rear entrance to Top of the Kress, the nightclub he was developing in the Kress building next door at 284 S. Main St. Longer term, the plan was to develop the interior into the Long Bar — so named for the long, skinny building.
Built in 1932, the building originally had housed Karl's Shoe Store, the name that remains on the concrete entrance to it.
The building actually is two suites with two addresses, 278 and 289 S. Main St., but has been identified as 278 S. Main St. for a number of years, according to city property records.
It had been purchased in 1996 by Chet Lane, who sold it in September 2008 to Desert Capital Partners for $495,000, according to the Assessor's Office records.
Dan Thelen, owner of Desert Capital Partners, had testified during the Liddles' trial that Liddle asked him to buy the property for Ruiz because Ruiz had borrowed to his debt limit. In October 2009, Thelen sold the property to CTW LLC, an entity owned by Ruiz, for $565,197.
The property had been tied up in Chapter 11 bankruptcy from July 2010 until Chief Bankruptcy Judge James Marlar dismissed the case in October 2011. Since then, AEA has been moving to obtain the deeds to properties held by Ruiz. This March, AEA acquired the deed to the Kress building for the opening bid of $2.7 million.
An AEA official at Tuesday's trustee sale didn't comment.
No one from the public attended the sale, unlike the sale of the Kress that drew a large crowd but no bidders.
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.