A deeper look at suspects in AEA fraud case
Who are Frank Ruiz and William Liddle, two of the suspects in the alleged loan fraud case at AEA credit union which was announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office Thursday?
According to Yuma Sun archives, Frank Ruiz entered the local business landscape in January 2003 when he started a janitorial supply business, Desert Best Distributing, out of the front closet of his home.
In the following three years he moved twice into larger facilites and in 2006 was presented the coveted Small Business Development Center Success Award that recognizes enterprising new businesses in the state.
Then, Ruiz acquired the stalled family fun center that was under development off 24th Street between avenues 4E and 5E, formerly called The Zone.
He renamed the project the Yuma Fun Factory and it opened its doors in late May 2009.
However, in September 2009, he sold his interest in the business to LaVette Malone, who was the general manager; Robert Busse, who designed the center; and Dan Thelen, then-owner of the land where Yuma Fun Factory sits at 4446 E. County 10th St.
The Yuma Fun Factory then closed its doors in April of 2010 after becoming embroiled in a legal tangle involving bankruptcy and foreclosure, according to Yuma Sun archives.
According to bankruptcy court records filed in August, the Yuma Fun Factory listed its assets as worth $441,850. It also listed that it owes AEA $4.7 million.
Ruiz also acquired the Top of the Kress, which opened in March in the former Kress store building at 284 S. Main St., after extensive renovations and improvements. The business filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization four months later in July.
In both of Ruiz’s failed business ventures, AEA Federal Credit Union was the lender.
William Liddle, who was vice president of business services, was hired by AEA in November 2004 to develop and manage a business services programs for the credit union.
According to the Yuma Sun archives, for 15 years prior to joining AEA, Liddle was a financial adviser to leading multinational corporations and global financial institutions, having worked in commercial lending, financial engineering and risk management and the global capital markets.
He and his family lived in Japan for eight years where he was managing director and head of capital markets for the Asia region at Bear Stearns, a leading Wall Street firm.
Liddle left AEA in December of 2009, stating his intention to devote full-time attention to a business, Desert Capital Advisors, LLC.