Marc Didier spent most of Monday on the witness stand testifying against his former business partner, Gene Parrish, who is facing 53 felony counts of fraud and theft.
Prosecutors continued to parade additional witnesses before 3rd Circuit Judge Paul Grant on Tuesday and were expected to continue the hearing well into next week.One-hundred and eighteen witnesses are scheduled to appear at the preliminary hearing, which has been scheduled for eight days - an unusually long hearing.
Didier testified that he went into business with Parrish, 35, buying Levi's blue jeans in the United States and selling them for a profit in France and in his home country of Belgium. He said he did not initially know that Parrish was selling travel packages through the same company - Premier International Inc.
Prosecutors contend Parrish sold $600 travel packages that were supposed to include round-trip air fares and luxury accommodations in Hawaii, Florida or Mexico. At last count, 204 people signed up for $173,000 worth of travel packages or more expensive club memberships.
But the money was allegedly used to fund the blue jeans sales. And customers were never told that their money was at risk, said Assistant Attorney General Sheila Page.
"I know they did not know the money was used to purchase jeans products," Didier testified.
Didier said he never attempted to defraud anyone but only approached Parrish in November 1990 about the blue jeans opportunity, hoping to team up with him as an investor so both could make a profit.
"I was hired to purchase a product and resell that product. That's it," he said. "I feel sorry for those people (those who bought travel packages) and I hope this gets resolved and people get their settlements."
Premier International advertised the travel packages heavily on KTKK radio. Didier said KTKK received $200 commission for each $600 travel package sold and the Premier salesperson received $100.
"I couldn't understand why we paid out $200 commission fees on a $600 sale. That's ridiculous! Especially when they're already getting paid for advertising fees," he said.
Parrish set the $600 price and customers apparently were told they had to wait three months before they could take their trip, presumably so money from the jeans sales could be raised.
"Did you have to make a profit on the jeans in order to fund for the travel?" Page asked.
"Yes," Didier replied. "There's no way you can send people to Hawaii for seven days on that kind of money . . . For two people to go for $600 for seven days is not possible in my opinion."
Didier, who has worked in the travel business since 1984, estimated that the lowest price for such a travel package would be between $800 and $1,000. But defense attorney Richard Copier indicated discounted air fares could be obtained for $100, $200 and $300.
Court documents indicate that Parrish, 7350 S. Wasatch Blvd., told an employee he would flee to Brazil if his scheme collapsed. He is also accused of using the travel-package money to finance Global Enterprises, a business attempting to market a cigarette-lighter-powered wrench.
He is charged with one count of communications fraud, a first-degree felony, 12 counts of second-degree felony theft and 40 counts of third-degree felony theft.