Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News
Newton Taylor, charged with 22 felony counts, leaves 4th District Court on Friday. Attorneys are hoping to settle the case without a trial.

AMERICAN FORK — Judy and Bill Freeland have staved off foreclosure on their home until January.

But after the first of the year, who knows?

They're hoping that by Jan. 25, the Utah County Attorney's Office will have resolved a case against a man charged with bilking them — and two other victims — out of nearly $300,000.

Judy Freeland was in American Fork's 4th District Court Friday morning, listening to Newton Taylor, 63, plead not guilty to 22 felonies, including being an unregistered securities agent, sale of unregistered security and communications fraud.

He is the reason she can't afford to buy her grandchildren Christmas presents this year, she says.

"I was just really bitter, angry, when he can stand up there and say not guilty," she said. "It just angers me because I'm sitting here, and he's extending his lifestyle for another month because he won't be in prison. How many more people is he going to victimize between now and then?"

Freeland met Taylor

in 2003 through a friend and thought he might be able to help them with their financial struggles, since Bill Freeland can no longer work.

Bill was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1997 and given 10 years to live. October was the 10-year mark.

After the Deseret Morning News ran an article about the Freelands' situation with Taylor, Judy Freeland said she was inundated with phone calls from other victims who can sympathize with her.

Jeff Meiners lives in Colorado Springs, and he and his father, who lives in Bountiful, his brother, father-in-law and a few other people are out $200,000. They're not included in the current case, which has been filed for months, but they say their situation mirrors that of the Freelands.

Promised high returns from a new company, the Meiners say they wrote personal checks to Taylor, who gave them promissory notes to be repaid by the end of June 2007.

"Of course he never paid us," Jeff Meiners said. "He continued to put it off and off and off, always had seemingly good stories."

Prosecutor Chad Grunander said he is prepared to go to trial if needed but is hopeful the case can be resolved without a trial.

"Our biggest interest is trying to make the victims whole as soon as we can," he said. "We're hopeful that by the 25th we can resolve the case. But we were very clear in court that if it doesn't resolve, we will be asking for a jury trial date to really push the case forward."

That same hope was expressed by Taylor's attorney.

"We think we're close to a resolution that involves payment of substantial parts of the restitution," said defense attorney John Easton. "We look forward to a fair resolution, and we believe everyone will be satisfied."

The next court hearing will be Jan. 25 at 9 a.m.

Freeland said she frequently asks other victims how Taylor appeared to them when they first met. Their responses?

"He was the guy that was going to save us."

E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com