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Michigan Pastor Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison for Running Ponzi Scheme

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A Michigan pastor has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for defrauding investors through a Ponzi scheme while his co-conspirator will spend three and a half years behind bars.

Larry Holley of Grand Blanc, who is the pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in Flint, and Patricia Gray of Flint were indicted by a Federal grand jury April 2018 on several counts of fraud and money laundering. Both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.

Holley was sentenced to serve 100 months in prison and Gray 42 months.

According to the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, Holley and Gray held investment seminars at churches in several states offering financial planning and asset management services through a company called Treasure Enterprises. Treasure Enterprises shared the same address as the church where Holley is pastor.

During the seminars, attendees filled out cards detailing their financial holdings. Holley and Gray then targeted those with a higher net worth for one-on-one meetings, where they encouraged them to roll over their IRA and 401K holdings into fake Treasure plans, the complaint said.

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Over several years, the pair convinced more than 140 victims to invest nearly $9.3 million, ABC12 reported.

The District Attorney’s Office said Holley and Gray defrauded investors by depicting Treasure as a successful real estate investment company that already owned multiple properties and telling them their investments would go towards purchasing more real estate.

However, Holley and Gray actually used the money for personal expenses and to finance Abundant Life, using some contributions from later investors to pay interest and principal to earlier investors.

When confronted by victims about the status of their investments, Holley and Gray told them the company continued to be profitable and they could continue to expect interest payments and the return of their principal, the District Attorney’s Office said.

A restitution hearing is yet to be scheduled by the court.

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.