Marc Sessions Jenson lost a court battle today to allow him to offer a home in Idaho as compensation to victims he owed $4.1 million. Jenson, whom, City Weekly previously reported, sought to fundraise for Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, will face sentencing in October.
For Jenson’s alleged victims of securities fraud that happened in 2000, it’s been a long wait for justice. Michael Bodell, one of the men who has been awaiting restitution from Jenson since 2008, was jubilant outside the court room when it was announced that Jenson (pictured) would be detained in Salt Lake County Jail on $500,000 bail until his sentencing hearing on October 24, 2011.
“[Jenson] is the Houdini of financial predators,” Bodell said. “I’m glad the court did the right thing.” In 2005, the charismatic hard-money lender was charged by the Utah Division of Securities with five second-degree felony charges of securities fraud, and one charge of racketeering for fraud committed in raising money for the now defunct Mt. Holly Ski Resort project.
According to the complaint, Jenson had made misrepresentations such as saying he was investing $5 million of his own money into the project, when he was actually referring to another investor’s money, and failed to tell investors that he had served six months in jail in 1992 for bank fraud in California. In a 2008 settlement agreement, Jenson would face no jail time as long as he compensated his alleged victims Morris Ebeling and Bodell for a total of $4.1 million by May 2011.
Jenson’s last chance to compensate his victims and face no penalty was lost today when Jenson’s attorney failed to convince 3rd District Judge Robin Reese that his offering of a home in Ketchum, Idaho, would be adequate compensation to the victims. The deal, which came days before Jenson’s last scheduled restitution hearing in late May, was rejected by the victims since the home, while said to have value between $6 and $9 million, had other encumbrances including a $3.5 million mortgage.
In the hearing, Assistant Attorney General Scott Reed noted that the house on auction that morning had received a bid only as high as $2.3 million. Reid argued even if the house could somehow sell for an amount that would make Bodell and Ebeling whole again, it still violated the terms of Jenson’s agreement, which required restitution in the form of cash, not tangible assets.
“Time is up. His time has run to the 11th-and-a-half hour,” Reed said, “and he comes to court now seeing if he can buy more time.”
While Jenson’s attorney, Rebecca-Hyde Skordas, argued that her client’s agreement never specified restitution had to be in the form of cash, Reed argued that the plain language of the agreement meant restitution had to be concrete and could not be in the form of an offer to pay through a questionable asset. “An offer to pay is not [payment],” Reed said. Judge Reese agreed and scheduled the controversial businessman to appear in court October 24 for sentencing.
Reese allowed that any restitution he could make before then could positively affect his October sentencing. Some have expressed concern in the past, however, that Jenson’s method of raising money involves more alleged wrongdoings. As City Weekly reported in February, during the years Jenson was meant to be raising restitution money for his victims in Utah, he allegedly defrauded an Idaho businessman out of $1.2 million, according to a civil lawsuit filed in that state. It was also a time period during which he had arranged to meet with Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in California during the summer of 2009, asking to fundraise for Shurtleff’s short-lived Senate campaign.
In that article, Shurtleff stated that he had turned down Jenson’s offer to raise money for his campaign. “I took every opportunity to remind Jenson that he was under obligation to pay … his victims. And if he didn’t pay that, he was going to prison,” Shurtleff said.
According to Jenson’s 2008 agreement, he could face up to seven years in prison for failing to provide restitution to the victims.