`This is just a horror,’ local investor laments

Martindale v Labadie

Securities fraud related to the Resource Development International Ponzi scheme – Whatcom County Superior Court


`This is just a horror,’ local investor laments
John Stark Staff
Published: April 3, 2005

Lloyd Martindale of Bellingham lost a lot of money in Resource Development International, but he got some satisfaction seeing the fraud’s perpetrators sentenced to 27-year prison terms.

Martindale testified for the prosecution in the Santa Clara County, Calif., trial of James and David Edwards. The father-and-son team from Tacoma ran a Ponzi-style investment scheme that victimized an estimated 1,500 investors, including more than 100 in Whatcom County.

“It was an extremely exhilarating experience,” Martindale said of the trial and his role in it. “I don’t think I’m vindictive, but I want to see the right thing done.”

With the exception of Martindale, local RDI investors contacted by The Bellingham Herald said they preferred not to talk about their painful financial experiences. Martindale was reluctant, too, but he said he wanted to make sure that the investors’ side of the story would be told.

Martindale said he found out about RDI from Bellingham accountant Richard Labadie, who kept his plane in a hangar next to Martindale’s at Bellingham International Airport. In October 1998, Martindale said Labadie invited him down to his Harbor Mall office to hear about an investment opportunity.

Martindale would later describe the sales pitch in a Dallas federal court, where a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission attorney was seeking an injunction to put RDI out of business and freeze its assets.

Labadie “drew elaborate diagrams on his blackboard,” Martindale told the court. “The general idea..would be that these were riskless transactions, our funds were on deposit… and they were collateral deposit which allowed further leveraged trading in bank debentures and financial instruments that would generate a tremendous return.” Martindale remembers being skeptical. He told Labadie he wanted to talk to an attorney before investing.

“Labadie said, `Well, this is confidential stuff. I can’t let you take this out of the office,'” Martindale said.

After hearing assurances that an attorney and other financial experts had already validated the RDI investment system, Martindale agreed to make an initial $10,000 investment. When the promised 2-percent-per-month interest checks kept arriving on time, Martindale decided it was safe to make a bigger commitment, making investments that ranged well into six figures.

Martindale said he didn’t check with any state or federal securities regulators because he trusted the Bellingham people he was dealing with, and he was told that the RDI investment program was confidential.

Martindale and the rest of the RDI investors got their last interest checks in February 2001. For months afterward, Martindale said, he and other nervous RDI investors got reassurances from both the Edwardses in Tacoma and the Bellingham RDI promoters: It was just a temporary freeze by banking authorities that would be cleared up soon.

Martindale wasn’t convinced. He did some Internet research and learned about something called “prime bank fraud” that seemed to describe RDI quite well. He took his concerns to David Edwards in Tacoma, and Edwards treated him to a two-hour dissertation on the banking system meant to convince him that RDI was a real business opportunity.

Martindale now believed otherwise.

“I told Richard Labadie we’d been conned,” Martindale said. “I thought his head would explode. He threw me out.”

Martindale said the worst part of the experience was the emotional agony he suffered.

“It definitely hurt me a lot,” he said. “I worked hard for all my assets.”

Although the sum he lost was substantial, Martindale still has resources as an owner of rental properties. He said he has met many RDI investors who have been pushed to the wall.

One such person is retired Tacoma schoolteacher Richard Mansfield, 59, who lost most of his retirement savings to RDI.

“For 31 years of teaching third-graders, this is just a horror,” Mansfield said. “It practically destroyed my life, the anxiety. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same…My wife’s had to go back to work…We’re just on a shoestring trying to make it.”

Copyright (c) The Bellingham Herald. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

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