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Frank Ruiz takes stand in AEA fraud case in Phoenix
- Click here to read coverage of opening days of trial
Editor's note: 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 YumaSun.com and KSWT.com.
PHOENIX - UPDATED 4:50 p.m. - As testimony continued today, Frank Ruiz took the stand in the AEA fraud trial in Phoenix.
Today’s testimony with Ruiz focused on preliminary information, such as his background and when he first met William Liddle.
Court has adjourned for the day. Check back with YumaSun.com this evening for the full story.
PHOENIX - UPDATED 3:05 p.m. - The defense’s cross-examination of Dan Thelen continued this afternoon in Phoenix, as the defense questioned whether or not William Liddle was in fact a part owner of the Yuma Fun Factory.
Thelen testified that there was no paperwork saying Liddle was an owner, but in his mind, he was an undocumented owner. According to Thelen, it was Liddle’s vision, and he was calling all the shots.
1:25 P.M. UPDATE - The defense has started the cross-examination of Dan Thelen as testimony continues in the AEA fraud trial in Phoenix.
So far, the defense has focused on Thelen's resume, which Thelen has admitted to padding in regards to his experience and background. The defense particularly focused on Thelen's MBA and the courses he took to gain it, questioning his business acumen.
Thelen, who has an IT (information technology) background, also testified that, after talking to the FBI, he had conversations with William Liddle about how to get rid of information on a computer. However, he testified that he did not help Liddle do that.
10:27 A.M. UPDATE - As the trial of a former AEA business loan officer continues today, testimony has turned to the Yuma Fun Factory debt – which, according to one witness, was losing $100,000 a month in 2009.
Dan Thelen has taken the stand for a second day in the trial of William Liddle and his wife, Rhonda, that began last week in U.S. District Court in Phoenix and is scheduled to last until March 2. The Liddles face 68 counts of money laundering, fraud and conspiracy in a case that involved millions of dollars in bad debt for the credit union and led to its insolvency.
Thelen testified this morning that he became the owner of the Fun Factory, along with LaVette Malone and Robert Busse, on July 1, 2009.
In the fall of 2009, Thelen testified, William Liddle told Thelen he wanted Thelen to take over the Fun Factory, because he was concerned that Frank Ruiz was treating it like his personal party place. Thelen testified that Liddle was concerned something bad would happen that would reflect badly on AEA.
Ruiz was eventually indicted on the same counts as the Liddles but reached a plea agreement in June, agreeing to testify against the Liddles in return for a lesser sentence.
Shortly after taking over the Fun Factory, Thelen testified he had a consolidated debt of approximately $15 million for the facility – for the land, the development and the operating company, plus the ongoing debt.
Thelen said the entire time the Fun Factory was open, it was losing $100,000 a month, without even making a payment on the loan.
Thelen also testified that he had an email from William Liddle, referring to Liddle as a principle in the Yuma Fun Factory, and other emails where Liddle was listed first as a co-owner.
When Thelen was asked in court today if Liddle was in fact a co-owner, Thelen replied, “Not on paper.”
Check back at YumaSun.com for updates today from Phoenix as this trial continues.