Prosecutors seek prison for would-be resort buyer

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Associated Press

Posted on July 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 18 at 12:00 PM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A man who unsuccessfully sought to win control of an Idaho resort using millions of dollars stolen from retirees should spend more than 17 years in prison, federal prosecutors told a judge.

Matthew Hutcheson, an independent trustee from Eagle who once oversaw the retirement plans of small businesses, is due to be sentenced on July 31.

In April, he was convicted of 17 counts of wire fraud after prosecutors accused him of raiding pension funds to buy luxury cars, remodel his home and acquire Tamarack Resort, a struggling ski and golf resort 90 miles north of Boise.

In a sentencing recommendation on Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Patricco described Hutcheson as an unrepentant schemer willing to go to any lengths to deceive retirees and steal their savings.

"These victims are faced with the prospect of working well into their 'golden years' to restore their lost retirement funds," Patricco wrote. "Their retirement standard of living will be significantly compromised."

Efforts to reach Hutcheson, who is free pending his sentencing hearing, were unsuccessful.

Prosecutors said Hutcheson took $2 million from one fund to buy cars, all-terrain vehicles and remodel his home, and $3 million from another account to purchase the mortgage on Tamarack's Robert Trent Jones II-designed golf course, part of his strategy to win control of the whole resort.

Linda Munch, a 53-year-old mother of two from Durango, Colo., said she lost $67,000, a quarter of her savings, in the scam.

"I expect this thief to be sentenced to the fullest extent of the law," Munch wrote in a victim statement to the court in May.

Hutcheson, meanwhile, insists he's the victim of a government vendetta, according to court documents filed by the government.

Among the documents was an 83-page manifesto — distributed by Hutcheson to friends, business associates and members of his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — in which he's labeled a "political dissenter" being targeted by the government for threatening to expose a U.S. Department of Labor scandal.

Patricco said the documents show Hutcheson's refusal to take responsibility.

"The baseless and hyperbolic accusations the defendant levels in these documents reveal a man who has absolutely no respect for this prosecution, the judicial process, the judiciary, or the laws that he broke," Patricco wrote.

Hutcheson has had three court-appointed defenders since his grand jury indictment in April 2012. Two lawyers left the case after their relationship with Hutcheson soured.

His latest, Ryan P. Henson of Nampa, a defense attorney appointed just this month, didn't return a call seeking comment.

Hutcheson will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge William Fremming Nielsen.

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