Brothers Marc and Stephen Jenson will stand trial on felony charges that they engaged in communications fraud and money laundering in promoting the defunct Mount Holly Club outside of Beaver.
Third District Judge Vernice Trease ruled Thursday that the Utah Attorney General's Office had presented sufficient evidence at a lengthy preliminary hearing to bind the Jensons over for trial.
She ordered them to appear Feb. 25 for arraignment before Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills.
Marc Sessions Jenson, 52, formerly of Holladay, faces eight second-degree felony counts while Stephen Roger Jenson, 47, of Sandy, is charged with 11 counts stemming from their efforts to turn little Elk Meadows ski area into a $3.5 billion luxury development with multimillion-dollar homes, a private ski mountain and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.
Edward Stone, the attorney representing Stephen Jenson, said later he is eager to put on a trial defense for his client. He believes he can show the Jensons had a legitimate business that they had every intention of making work until a financial partner backed out of an agreement.
"Unfortunately," he added, "the state is prosecuting people for a failed venture because a financial partner failed to live up to a partnership agreement."
Prosecutor Scott Reed, chief of the attorney general's criminal justice division, said, "I'm just glad we're moving along," noting that 1½ years have passed since the charges originally were filed. "We're looking for a resolution of this case for everybody not the least of which is the defendants themselves."
The AG's office filed the charges against the Jensons on Aug. 24, 2011, the same day 3rd District Judge Robin Reese found Marc Jenson guilty of violating a plea-in-abeyance agreement by failing to pay $4.1 million in restitution to two victims of a separate fraud case.
Reese had approved the plea-in-abeyance in 2008, giving Jenson three years to pay restitution in exchange for clearing his record of three, third-degree felony counts of selling unregistered securities in the alleged sale of a bicycle company.
The plea agreement allowed Jenson to remain a salesman for the Mount Holly Club, a job that would allow him to make money that could be used to make his restitution payments.
But nothing was repaid, even though prosecutors alleged that Marc Jenson continued to live lavishly in California, going through $9 million. So Reese sentenced Marc Jenson to back-to-back, zero-to-five-year prison terms that he is currently serving.
On the Mount Holly Club case, the Jenson brothers each were charged with four counts of communications fraud. They allegedly made misrepresentations to three investors who put $2.3 million into the club, or failed to disclose required information, such as the fact Marc Jenson had served time in federal prison for not paying taxes and had filed for bankruptcy.
Stephen Jenson was charged with six counts of money laundering, and Marc Jenson with three, for allegedly shuttling investor funds between various accounts they established. Both also were charged with one count of engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity.
Marc Jenson's attorney, Brent Burningham, told Judge Trease he is going to ask the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office to investigate whether the alleged victims committed perjury in providing "false testimony concocted by the attorney general's office."