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SALT LAKE CITY — A former Ogden businessman convicted in 2008 of defrauding more than $140 million from hundreds of investors using a real estate Ponzi scheme died Monday, weeks after he was quietly paroled last month, members of his family confirmed to KSL.
Val Edmund Southwick, 74, was initially set to be paroled from Utah State Prison on March 26, but was paroled on March 6 after a spot opened up for him at Millcreek Rehabilitation and Nursing, according to Utah Board of Pardons and Parole records. Family members said Southwick's health had declined in recent years and he suffered from dementia.
Greg Johnson, spokesman for Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, said Southwick wasn't scheduled to have another parole hearing until 2025. However, he was released last month when the board granted him a compassionate release, which can be done if there is enough proof of concerns about health or palliative care.
Southwick died on Monday. Family members did not disclose a cause of death. Utah Adult Probation & Parole officials didn't respond to a phone call from KSL.com Wednesday evening.
Southwick's wife, Marilyn, died on March 11, according to an obituary posted online.
Val Southwick was initially charged in 2008 when prosecutors alleged he duped more than 800 investors across the country with a real estate Ponzi scheme with his company, Vescor Capital. Officials at the time that many of the victims were elderly. Many others were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Southwick pleaded guilty to nine counts of securities fraud, each second-degree felonies, on March 31, 2008. Southwick was sentenced to serve anywhere from 9 to 135 years in Utah State Prison.
In Dec. 2008, Southwick had his first hearing with the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. There, many of those who fell victim to the scheme testified about how it destroyed their lives, the Deseret News reported at the time.
"He said to me at the time that we probably do not need to have a contract at all,” one man who was bilked out of a $1.1 million property testified during that hearing. “We can just go to the temple together and we can consummate our transaction there."
Southwick also apologized during that hearing, saying “the remorse is all-consuming.”