County attorney: Premier investigation could take years
Government agencies insist they must take their time in investigating any wrongdoing that may have occurred prior to Premier Resorts of Utah declaring bankruptcy.
As The Park Record has reported on four previous occasions, Summit County Attorney David Brickey and Park City Police Detective Robert de Botelho are actively investigating possible contract fraud that may have been a part of the accounting problems that resulted in the company, which did business as Deer Valley Lodging, being unable to pay debts starting in March 2009.
But as the two first said in mid-May 2009, financial crimes take an enormous amount of time to investigate.
State and federal agencies do not, as a practice, confirm or deny the existence of investigations to the media. But Brent Asay, Utah wage claim unit manager, has previously confirmed his office received complaints regarding payouts of accrued vacation time.
The U.S. Department of Labor office in San Francisco confirmed recently that more than 20 calls were made to them regarding Premier Resorts, but could not say who made the calls or what they were regarding.
That office receives complaints regarding insurance coverage from an employer.
Several people have told The Park Record that premiums were taken out of final paychecks but medical bills were not paid by Premier’s third party administrator. Premier co-owner Bradley Goulding resolved the issues of all those who spoke on the record last October. No one with ongoing issues has agreed to speak on the record.
The U.S. Department of Labor encourages people with ongoing problems with insurance coverage from an employer to call the Employee Benefits Security Administration at 866-444-3272.
In the meantime, Detective de Botelho said his office may wait for a report from the forensic accountant investigating Premier’s bankruptcy.
"People want their money today, but we can’t do that Every day we try to figure out what we’re doing on it," he said. "It’s a forensic nightmare. We need a full-time person to do this kind of stuff and don’t have wherewithal to do that."
The trustee over the bankruptcy, Steven Bailey, could not be reached for this story, but has said previously that he must handle the proceedings delicately or the parent company, Premier Resorts International, will declare bankruptcy and the case will be taken from him.
Additionally, to put the case in perspective, de Botelho said the police have only received a total of 12 complaints regarding both Premier and the similar situation involving the now defunct David Holland Resort Lodging over nearly 18 months. That’s a mere dozen out of hundreds of affected condominium owners.
Brickey and de Botelho have said they are tasked with examining the contracts between Premier and the condo owners, then educating themselves on the company’s business practices to determine if there was any wrongdoing that might constitute fraud.
Brickey acknowledged that a dozen people are not many, but asserted his office will not ignore any criminal conduct if it is identified.
He is only concerned with the possibility of contractual fraud, so he is not following what state agencies have decided.
"It behooves us and the general public, to see if the defendant has a reasonable defense," he said.
Before using up a judge and jury’s time, his office must have a good case.
"I have a four-year statute of limitations and I can take all four years," he said. "It’s the right the legislature has given me."
He said he hopes to move more quickly, but may take that long if he determines it to be prudent, he said.
Civil cases can be retried, criminal cases cannot be, Brickey added.
He also asserted that he’s not targeting anyone, including the company’s principals. His office is still gathering information. He also emphasized that he understands and empathizes with the impacts of the company’s bankruptcy.
"The loss of $15,000 from a regular budget is a huge impact. I don’t deny that. It can have devastating impacts," he said. "At the same time, our obligation is to consider if a case truly has merit."
View Deer Valley Lodging closed last fall in a larger map
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