Ponzi trial delayed

A Grand Haven Township woman is still waiting for justice after being an alleged victim of two men charged a year ago with bilking more than 100 West Michigan residents out of millions of dollars.
Becky Vargo
Mar 18, 2013

“It’s hard when everybody’s asking about it,” said Lillian Vandenberg, 84.

Vandenberg said she has received a small amount of money back from the Ponzi scheme, but would not go into detail.

Jeffrey Ripley, 60, of Sparta; and Danny VanLiere, 61, of Grand Rapids were accused of scamming more than $9 million from 140 people. Their arrests were the result of a joint investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office and the state Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation.

Ripley and VanLiere have been lodged in the Ottawa County Jail since they were arraigned March 13, 2012, on charges of racketeering, false pretenses and violation of the state’s Securities Act. Each is being held on a $500,000 bond.

The investment scheme was alleged to have gone on from July 2006 through January 2012.

A trial in Ottawa County Circuit Court was originally scheduled for October 2012, but it was adjourned. Earlier this month, Judge Ed Post granted another adjournment at the request of one of the defense attorneys.

The latest adjournment was needed because it’s a complicated case, said VanLiere’s attorney, Bob Hamilton.

Late last year, public defender Joe Legatz filed a motion to be relieved of his obligation to defend the case, Hamilton said. Legatz was Ripley’s attorney.

Thomas Smith then signed on to defend Ripley and asked for an adjournment when the case was supposed to go to trial this month, Hamilton said. The trial was set for mid-April, but Smith filed another request last week.

The trial is now set to begin June 18.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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