A bail hearing for Phillip Lester and his Sister Susan LaFerte was conducted in Nevada County Superior court this morning and the judge has made no change to the $600,000 bail for each defendant.
Lester and Laferte have been charged with securities fraud, conspiracy and elder abuse for operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked dozens of investors of over $2.3 million. Philip Lester, CEO of Gold Country Lenders, and Laferte, the firm’s CFO, are being charged with 66 felony counts of elder abuse, securities fraud and conspiracy.
Lester’s and LaFerte’s public defenders argued that the bail should be removed and the two released on their own recognizance as they are not a flight risk or danger to the community. Judge Ersel Edwards had to balance information presented by the Public Defenders with the assumption that the charges filed by the State were true and that that bail had already been set below the actual bail schedule. Edwards ultimately left bail at $600,000.
Prior to the arrival of Attorney General representation, counsel for Nevada County put in a verbal request for full disclosure of finances to prove they qualify for indigent council….that request was not granted. County Counsel is prepared to submit a formal request.
Co-defendants in the case brought by the State Attorney General’s Office, Ellen Lester and Jonathan Blinder, have already been released on bail.
The arrest declaration alleges that Gold Country Lenders, a real estate company in Grass Valley, engaged in a pattern of theft and fraud-related crimes for more than eight years. Investor funds were used to make interest payments to earlier investors or for projects in which the company’s owner had a financial interest, according to a State Attorney General’s press release.