Marquette Condo Fraud Prelim Exam

The 5 area businesspeople accused of fraud in a Marquette condo development appear in court together for the first time.

Chad LaVallie, Brian Swift, Ryan Bruns, Michael Gokey and Joel Westrom are charged in the case.

The court date served as Westrom’s arraignment and as the preliminary exam for the other 4.

A Gwinn man says after he and his mother paid $75,000 for a condo, he never heard from them again.

Gerald Kovach said Gokey and Westrom were the ones who he and his mother dealt with.

He said after nothing had been done, he tried to contact Gokey and Westrom by phone for months but never got any farther than their answering machine.

The 5 men’s defense attorneys also took turns questioning Kovach.

The Hawks Ridge condos were normally selling for $300,000.

Kovach testified that Gokey and Westrom offered him and his mother their condo at a big discount in order to generate some quick working capital.

The sale contract Kovach signed expired the day he signed it, June 1st, 2007.

It also didn’t have a closing date listed on it.

Defense attorney Karl Numinen claimed that for that reason, the contract would still be valid today if it weren’t for the expiration date.

The preliminary exam had to be cut short due to scheduling constraints.

All 5 defendants will be back in court December 1st.