Aspen court documents: Andy Hecht defrauded Pfisters twice
Local attorney Andy Hecht defrauded the heirs of a prominent Aspen family in not just one real estate deal but two, according to recently filed court documents.
The newest allegations concern proceeds that the family of Art and Betty Pfister allegedly never received for their investment in the Maroon Creek Club, according to the documents filed earlier this week in district court.
“In every possible way, based on information and belief, Andy Hecht sought to deprive the Pfister family and/or the Pfister trusts of the benefits from their Maroon Creek Club interest,” according to a motion filed by Aspen attorney David Bovino.
Art Pfister, a Minnesota native who moved to Aspen in 1954, helped develop Buttermilk Mountain after buying the 700-acre Lazy Chair Ranch located on the mountain, according to his March 2007 obituary in The Aspen Times. After selling his interest in the ski mountain to Aspen Skiing Co., the rest of the ranch was parceled off to family members and sold to the Maroon Creek Club, a golf and tennis facility, the obit states.
The new allegations concerning that club were outlined in Bovino’s unusual motion connected to a lawsuit filed last month by Juliana Pfister, granddaughter of Art and Betty Pfister. In that suit, Juliana Pfister alleged that Andy Hecht, who managed Pfister family trusts, sold the family’s interest in a private retreat above Ruedi Reservoir to his son, Nikos Hecht, for “far below market value” in 2006, according to court documents.
Art Pfister was part of a group that purchased the Woods Lake retreat in 1970 and converted it into a private getaway, according to an April 2014 Aspen Times story. The family’s cabin at Woods Lake “was the crown jewel of the family holdings” and “analogous to” the Kennedy family’s compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, according to the lawsuit.
Andy Hecht took advantage of both Art and Betty Pfister at the end of their lives and engineered the sale of the Pfister family’s Woods Lake assets to Nikos Hecht for $800,000, “an exceedingly low purchase price,” the lawsuit states.
Nancy Pfister, daughter of Art and Betty and mother to Juliana, was murdered in her Aspen-area home in February 2014. Afterward, Juliana Pfister began asking Andy Hecht for a thorough accounting of the family trusts, which he has denied to provide, according to the lawsuit.
The motion filed earlier this week alleges that in June 2006, Andy Hecht “attempted a power grab similar to the one he was able to complete with the Woods Lake transaction” that involved the Pfister’s $1.5 million investment in the Maroon Creek Club. It also says Juliana Pfister has found a local Aspen source who has documents that support the Maroon Creek Club claim.
In late August 2006, Andy Hecht circulated documents to other investors in the Maroon Creek Club that would have enriched himself “while robbing the Pfisters of their rightful share in the Maroon Creek Club,” the motion states.
“Upon information and belief, Andy Hecht justified this arrangement as an attempt to alleviate the Pfisters’ ‘cash-flow problems,’” according to the motion.
However, there’s no proof of any cash-flow problems, and if there were, they would have been caused “by Andy Hecht’s negligence and/or mismanagement of the Pfister trusts for his personal enrichment,” the motion states.
Other Maroon Creek Club investors refused to go along with Andy Hecht’s plan, according to the motion. One of those was Aspen native and patent attorney Jerry Hosier, who felt it “was a terrible deal for the Pfister family,” according to the motion.
“Eventually, in an effort to protect the Pfister family, Mr. Hosier thwarted the deal,” the motion states.
But shortly after that, Andy Hecht “announced he had found ‘another way’ to ‘alleviate the Pfister cash-flow problems,” according to the motion.
“At this time, Andy Hecht continues to refuse to provide (Juliana Pfister) with an accounting or an explanation of how Andy Hecht ‘alleviated the cash flow problems,’” the motion states.
The motion asked District Judge Denise Lynch, who is handling the case, to issue a subpoena to Hosier for the documents outlining Andy Hecht’s cash-flow problems plan. Those allegations would then be incorporated into the original lawsuit, which has not yet been served on Andy and Nikos Hecht.
Hosier said Thursday he wasn’t aware of the motion and declined to comment on it. Bovino also declined to comment.
Lynch, however, did comment and denied the motion Thursday.
Dan Reilly, Andy Hecht’s lawyer in Denver, said that in 35 years of practicing law he’d never seen a stranger motion than the one denied Thursday by Lynch.
“When a lawsuit is filed, it’s expected that the party filing it has the evidence necessary to proceed,” Reilly said. “They’re obligated to have that.”
Beyond that, the lawsuit is without merit, he said.
“The allegations are false and misguided,” Reilly said, “and we’ll establish that once the case gets started.”
Juliana Pfister and Bovino now have until Jan. 6 to serve the lawsuit to the Hechts, according to court documents.
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Many members of the community wrote to laud the former Skico executive and city councilman for his friendship, dedication to family and community-minded spirit over more than two decades in Aspen.