March 23, 2014

DBSI – Ever Hear of It?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:01 am

DBSIHave you ever heard of DBSI?  That’s Diversified Business Services & Investments, Inc., a Meridian-based real estate development company.  Several of its principals have been charged with federal crimes and are currently on trial in US District Court in Boise.

According to an Idaho Statesman article, the trial was abruptly recessed this week when a Boise FBI special agent who had been testifying in the trial was found dead in her home of what the Ada County coroner stated was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In April 2013 a federal grand jury in Boise indicted Douglas L. Swenson, 64, of Eagle, Idaho; Mark A. Ellison, 64, of Boise, Idaho; David D. Swenson, 35, of Boise, Idaho; and Jeremy S. Swenson, 40, of Meridian, Idaho, for conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and interstate transportation of stolen property stemming from their involvement in the DBSI Group of Companies (DBSI).  The details of the indictment are in this press release from the Office of the US Attorney for the District of Idaho.  Here is a link to the April 10, 2013, federal grand jury indictment.

This 2008 Watch List article gives readers some idea of the geographic and financial span of the allegations raised against DBSI both civilly and criminally.

This 2009 report by Boise television station KTVB explains how the allegations against DBSI affected one particular individual who likened the breadth of the losses allegedly attributable to DBSI as being proportionally similar to those attributed to convicted swindler Bernie Madoff.

OpenCdA wonders if DBSI’s tentacles reached into northern Idaho?  According to the website,

“DBSI and its various entities issued many different investments including non-traded real estate funds (REITS), tenants-in-common investments (TICs), in addition to various notes. It has been alleged in various regulatory and legal filings that the broker-dealers who sold DBSI investments were deficient in discharging their due diligence requirements with regard to approving DBSI for sale to their retail investment clients.”

Our local and regional newspapers, The Coeur d’Alene Press and The Spokesman-Review, seem to have been missing in action on this very significant Idaho-based story.


  1. This mess likens to the movie, American Hustle, we watched yesterday.

    Comment by Stebbijo — March 23, 2014 @ 12:06 pm

  2. Here is another article reported by the Washington Times, citing a “gag order” on attorneys and the mention of a former Rep. out of Montana.

    The downfall of this (DBSI) Idaho company is around 102 BILLION dollars according to the article. They also mention a “gag order”

    While, the Idaho Statesman reports this:

    “Prosecution and defense attorneys met with Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Friday morning. The meeting was not listed in a court calendar and did not appear in the online case file. Wilkinson, who was assigned to answer media questions in the case, declined to explain the legal justification for holding the meeting without an opportunity for the public to attend.

    A summary of the hearing is sealed and not available for public inspection. Attorneys involved declined to comment because of the closed hearing.

    Winmill also issued an unknown order Friday. It was also filed under seal.”

    You would think the the S-R’s Betsy Russell and it’s judicial media committee would be all over this one for the sake of public transparency. But, we know that corruption never happens in Idaho, let alone murders of key witnesses. In fact, our AG’s says it’s a “priority.”

    See Bill’s article, Idaho’s AG Wasden — A Corruption Fighter? Not Even Close.

    Comment by Stebbijo — March 23, 2014 @ 2:48 pm

  3. Stebbijo,

    Thanks for the link to the earlier article.

    To avoid any misunderstanding, the Idaho Statesman reports that the Ada County Coroner has ruled SA Morse’s death was by self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    It seems logical that the Judge and the attorneys were meeting and will meet again Monday to try and determine if and how the trial will proceed given SA Morse’s death.

    Comment by Bill — March 23, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

  4. I understand the clarification, Bill. I am surprised it was not an ‘accident’ of some sort, those happen a lot, too. However, the IO does mention “suicide” under their photo while the WT states, “died of a self-inflected gunshot to the head.”

    However,it is all relative, because it really really reeks.

    They have those private meetings when they need those desired outcomes – they are not supposed to show up on the court docket AND nobody ever knows when and where they meet, because it never happened and was not supposed to be found out.

    Watch for major BULL – definitely one for the SMELL test. I gotta get that book, too. 🙂

    Comment by Stebbijo — March 23, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

  5. clarification: IO – is IS, as in Idaho Statesman.

    Comment by Stebbijo — March 23, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

  6. Stebbijo,

    The news reporting of the details of SA Morse’s mode of death was extremely sketchy.

    I just added a link in the post to the federal grand jury indictment issued April 10, 2013.

    Comment by Bill — March 23, 2014 @ 3:29 pm

  7. Thanks Bill. This has been very quiet, until now. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, I would have missed it.

    Comment by Stebbijo — March 23, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

  8. Stebbijo,

    My big “thing” is that a story like this needs to be completely reported by reporters who understand the material they’re dealing with. That requires a degree of immersion in the material which many newspapers are unwilling to make or their reporters lack the time and understanding to perform.

    Incomplete reporting of a story of this complexity often unintentionally but thoroughly misleads readers about the information presented. For example, if a reporter doesn’t understand the significance of a witness’s answer on direct or cross-examination, the answer may go completely unreported to the public. But that’s why jurors are supposed to deliberate and discuss all evidence — to make sure that questions about the evidence are answered completely to the extent the Court can allow it.

    Comment by Bill — March 23, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

  9. I agree, it is really complicated, and I am trying to understand it fully. This has been going on for awhile. Montana got their attorneys in to as well. There are just bits and pieces out there.

    Evidently, according to the indictment there were also cash payouts. I wonder who got those?

    Where was Idaho coverage in all of this? I guess it takes an FBI death to get some.

    The investors, all present or former farmers or ranchers, lost the money in complex deals called tenancy-in-common shares, or TICs.

    Nationwide, 12,000 investors — including current Montana gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill — may have lost as much as $2 billion in the DBSI deals. In Montana, as many as 80 investors may have lost $32.5 million, according to the office of the state auditor.


    Comment by Stebbijo — March 23, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

  10. Here is an interesting article about a Boise law firm, associated with the case back in 2010 by Idaho Business Review.

    Comment by Stebbijo — March 23, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

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