For decades, the WatchTower Society has repeatedly portrayed its' Jehovah's Witness members as "the most honest people on earth", supposedly because Jehovah's Witnesses are members of "the only true religion on earth". The following state and federal employment related criminal and civil court cases are not intended as evidence that Jehovah's Witness Employees are more dishonest than other employees, but rather are intended to demonstrate that Jehovah's Witnesses are just as dishonest, or honest, as are other members of the human population -- whether religious or non-religious.
Mounting evidence, however, seems to indicate that a higher than normal percentage of Jehovah's Witness Investments-Insurance Salespersons are turning to crime. See below all the Investments-Insurance related cases which have become public over the past decade just since the flood of information provided by the internet. (Just for fun, try to keep track of how many times the word "California" occurs in this 5-page section.)
One can't help but wonder how many Jehovah's Witnesses and others have been ripped off by fellow JWs over the decades because JWs were taught NOT to report the crime to authorities in order to not harm the reputation of the WatchTower religion. I actually have personal experience of such occurring. In the mid 1960s, a Jehovah's Witness whom I recall as being described as a WatchTower Society "Special Pioneer" moved through our area selling worthless stock investments to local JWs, and to whomever local JWs would vouch for his honesty. My very poor father, grandfather, and one great-uncle (now all deceased) lost every single penny they gave to that Jehovah's Witness Conman to invest for them. However, the only ones to whom the crime was reported were other WatchTower representatives -- who would promise to "do something about it", but never did. I personally recall the very last "sit-down" in the latter 1960s with a newly moved-in Congregation Servant, named Ralph Moore, who on hearing about such promised that he would get to the bottom of the matter. Like all of the others before him, after he left to investigate such, not only was nothing done, but you could not even get him to further discuss the matter. (2012 UPDATE/KARMA ALERT. I only recently learned that the JW Elder -- now in his 70s -- whom I believe was the first JW Elder to whom my relatives reported the JW Conman, and whom probably tainted later inquiries, recently had his retirement interrupted, and has had to begin supplementing his Social Security as a parttime janitor. WHY? Elderly JW Elder's retirement fund was recently wiped out after he invested the assets with one of the JW Conmen listed below!!!)
Readers specifically interested in the topic of Jehovah's Witness Honesty and Integrity should be aware that related court cases are scattered throughout this website -- specifically the JW Business Owners, Managers, and Supervisors page. Readers should also refer to the 8 webpages of other types of thefts and other criminal court cases posted on the JW CHILDREN website linked from this website's Homepage.
NEED INFO FROM READERS ON LONG ISLAND!!! An anonymous tipster is alleging the possibility that the wealthy Family of "Educational Consultants" mentioned in this LINKED ONLINE BOOK CHAPTER is a prominent Family of Jehovah's Witnesses living in the Greater New York City area, plus that the former President and Owner of the now closed multi-state HENDRIKS INSTITUTE mentioned in this book, whom has been described by one newspaper reporter essentially as a "political consultant" -- ROBERT JOHN HENDRIKS a/k/a ROBERT J. HENDRIKS -- is the same ROBERT HENDRIKS who is currently one of the GREATER NYC SPOKESPERSONS for the WATCHTOWER SOCIETY. Please deny or confirm with additional details. (Please note at the bottom of the linked BOOK webpage that the book's author discloses that his book's character "Dave Hendriks" is a composite character used to portray his various interactions with one or more Hendriks family members. That author alleges that he was never paid $2000.00 for his services as a teacher at the the main Long Island location of HENDRIKS INSTITUTE, and that other teachers also went unpaid or were paid with NSF checks.)
NIGERIAN JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES ROMANCE SCAM. It has been reported to us that one or more Nigerians -- who is/are extremely familiar with the beliefs and practices of the WatchTower religion -- have been successfully scamming a number of Jehovah's Witnesses living in the United States who have been too ashamed of their gullibility to report such to the WatchTower Society, or even to law enforcement. The scams include a variety of appeals for money, including the SUCCESSFUL appeal made during the following online romance SCAM reported to us by one of the victim's relatives.
A JEWISH JOURNAL article dated October 28, 2004, reported on Austrian Jehovah's Witness Leopold Engleitner's then recent Holocaust-related sermon delivered at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. The WatchTower Society's Media Department apparently arranged for the attendance of a Jewish Journal reporter, plus arranged for the Jewish Journal reporter to interview the WatchTower Society's Los Angeles-area spokesperson, David Goldfarb, whom the reporter described in his article as "a Jehovah's Witness church leader in Beverly Hills who grew up Jewish and became a Jehovah's Witness at age 15."
WatchTower Society spokesperson David Goldfarb is also a member of the Board Of Directors at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. An online David Goldfarb resume indicates that Goldfarb has participated in significant fund-raising for the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
In June 2008, David Goldfarb spoke at a UCLA School of Medicine seminar promoting the WatchTower Society's prohibition against Jehovah's Witnesses receiving blood transfusions. David Goldfarb's title was listed at the UCLA seminar as, "Chairman, Los Angeles Hospital Liaison Committee for Jehovah's Witnesses". David Goldfarb has been a member of the Los Angeles County Hospital Liaison Committee for Jehovah's Witnesses since 1992.
A LOS ANGELES TIMES article dated February 2, 2012, reported on a Los Angeles area doctor who had been treating Jehovah's Witnesses with leukemia without the normal use of blood transfusions. Quoted at the beginning of the article, and possibly the person who arranged this media event, was David Goldfarb, whom the reporter described as "chairman of the Los Angeles-area Hospital Liaison Committee for the Jehovah's Witnesses."
According to its 1990 corporation filing, David Goldfarb was one of the two founding members of the Virginia Avenue Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Santa Monica, California.
Some of multi-millionaire Jehovah's Witness businessman David Goldfarb's business activities are also "highly interesting". Since at least the early 1990s, and apparently continuing up until just recently, David Goldfarb has been a business partner/associate with another Los Angeles-area Jehovah's Witness named Bill Parodi -- not just in one business, but in multiple business ventures. Some of Bill Parodi's business-related legal interactions are summarized below.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION v. KENNETH TAVES ET AL is a 1999-2000 California federal civil lawsuit in which the F.T.C. prosecuted an INTERNET PORNOGRAPHER for fraudulently charging the credit/debit cards of thousands of persons who had never ever visited one of his 14 PORN websites. At the time, this prosecution was lauded as both the LARGEST CASE EVER involving Pornography, and the LARGEST CASE EVER involving credit card related fraud. The credit/debit card processing service company which acted as the intermediary between Taves, Taves' bank accounts, and the credit card companies, was a Los Angeles area company called AUTOMATED TRANSACTION SERVICES, INC., which just so happened to be owned by -- guess who -- David Goldfarb and Bill Parodi. David Goldfarb testified for the F.T.C. at the TAVES trial. Interestingly, at trial, Taves asserted that ATS and its two owners were co-conspirators in the credit card "thefts". David Goldfarb not only denied conspiring with Taves, but he denied ever suspecting that Taves was committing credit card fraud.
David Goldfarb testified that Automated Transaction Services processed credit/debit card and electronic check payments for Taves' multiple companies and multiple websites from January 1995 until Taves' operations were shut down in December 1998. David Goldfarb testified that he was personally in charge of handling the Taves account at ATS. Interestingly, in calendar year 1997, ATS deposited just under $5 MILLION into Taves' bank accounts. However, starting in 1998, those ATS deposits suddenly jumped to $4 MILLION and more PER MONTH (after Taves began to charge the cards of thousands of persons who had never visited his websites.) ATS earned upwards of $2.7 MILLION from Taves just in 1998, which Goldfarb testified was around 15% of ATS's total income in 1998.
Goldfarb also testified that Bill Parodi and he established a joint bank account in the Caymen Islands, at Taves' request. That joint account was used to receive payments from ATS owed to Taves, which were then transferred into Taves' own Caymen Island account. That joint account then received payments back from Taves' account which were owing to ATS for services performed for Taves' companies.
David Goldfarb also disclosed that Bill Parodi and he owned part of WORLD BANKCARD ASSOCIATES, INC. (the court record is unclear whether Goldfarb and Parodi EACH owned 15% of World Bankcard, or whether they owned 15% combined), which was another "fee-based support service" company which arranged for Taves and other similarly situated "merchants" who were having problems obtaining bank "merchant accounts" to obtain such from certain cooperating Banks willing to do business with them. (At that time, few Banks wanted to be known as doing business with pornographers. World Bankcard "helped" Taves open a "merchant account" at three different banks, and thereafter received a commission from every deposit made into Taves' accounts. See Newspaper article linked below.)
David Goldfarb also disclosed that ATS actually did business with around 200 INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY COMPANIES, each of which had multiple websites (actually, Goldfarb ballparked the figure at "a couple hundred'). How many internet pornography companies even existed in the Los Angeles area back in the 1990s before every home had a computer? Does anyone else suspect that ATS may have been the California PORN INDUSTRY's "go-to" company for credit card processing? Although Goldfarb and Parodi had only founded ATS sometime in 1994, Taves began doing business with ATS when he started his operations in January 1995. How many Americans had home computers in 1994, and how many retailers and other "merchants" were doing online business in 1994, and needed the services of a company like ATS? ATS referred to itself as a "pioneer" in the credit card service industry for a reason -- it was.
Despite David Goldfarb's "hmmmm" testimony, the USDC chose to ignore any possibility that Goldfarb, Parodi, and ATS had conspired with Taves. In fact, in its "opinion", the USDC repeatedly had to re-assert the court's continuing belief in Goldfarb's honesty and credibility. (Had the USDC somehow learned that David Goldfarb was a prominent Jehovah's Witness Leader?)
Goldfarb and Parodi later sold ATS in June 1999 -- probably after it became obvious that their business relationship with the PORN INDUSTRY was going to become public knowledge during the TAVES trial proceedings. ATS was "acquired" by Innuity, Inc. David Goldfarb was elected to Innuity's Board of Directors, and he continued to oversee operations at the former ATS, which underwent a name change, until July 2001. It is not known if Bill Parodi continued working at the former ATS after the acquistion. Innuity sold off the former ATS in 2004, and it is still doing business under a different name.
Click here to read Ken Taves' sworn affidavit given during a later but related 2002 private civil lawsuit, in which Taves alleges that he had no technology background nor skills, and that he depended on the advice and assistance of a network of companies which provided fee-based support services to the PORN industry, including Automated Transaction Services, to handle all of the technological aspects of his operations.
Click "Take The Money and Run (For the Border)" to read author Lewis Perdue's analysis of the TAVES trial in his 2002 book: EROTICA BIZ: How Sex Shaped The Internet.
Click "Porn In The USA" to read a November 2000 newspaper article about internet Pornographers and the financial services industry which supported them, including additional information on TAVES and ATS.
We also believe that David Goldfarb and Bill Parodi employed a number of their fellow JW Elders, Ministerial Servants, and other JWs, including wives, at Automated Transaction Services, who would have known the identity of ATS's clientele. Andy Varble, aka Andrew Varble, believed to be associated with the Westlake Village Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, was ATS's "Business Development Manager". We have identified at least two other managers who probably were JWs.
Click this AMICUS CURIE BRIEF link to see who the members of the U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate sought out in 1998 to provide them with expert information regarding the intricacies of credit card processing in the Internet Pornography industry. Yes, one of the experts interviewed was a Manager employed at ATS named Scott Lockwood. Google that name along with the keyterms "jehovah's" and "software".
THREE VALLEYS MUNICIPAL WATER DISTRICT ET AL v. WILLIAM E. PARODI, SR. ET AL was a 1988-97 California federal civil court case, in which the aformentioned California Municipalities and governmental entities attempted to recover some of the $8,279,000.00 which they allegedly lost while doing business with the Parodi Brothers and their employers. The lawsuit also requested $16 million in punitive damages. Some entities managed to settle their cases. Other plaintiffs litigated their claims only to have the federal courts send their claims to arbitration -- the awards which some plaintiffs believed to be too small.
UNITED STATES v. RODNEY LEE HATFIELD and UNITED STATES v. LLOYD MYERS. In December 2009, brothers-in-law Rodney L. Hatfield, age 60, of Watsonville, California, and Lloyd Myers, age 52, of Rio Linda, California, were indicted on charges of "mail fraud" and "conspiracy to commit mail fraud" in connection with a company they founded and managed called Landmark Trading Co. LLC, of Salinas, California. Hatfield and Myers organized Landmark for the purpose of offering an "ownership interest" in Landmark, and using the proceeds generated from investors to engage in trading on the foreign currency exchange markets through the FOREX CURRENCY exchange. Most, if not all, of the targeted "investors" were fellow members of the Watsonville California Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Between 2003 and 2007, Hatfield and Myers reportedly collected about $5,000.000.00 from investors with promises to invest in foreign currency exchange markets. Hatfield and Myers allegedly repeatedly told investors they were making money, when in fact they were suffering signicant losses. While the investments were losing money, Hatfield and Myers allegedly diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars to real estate ventures they owned. They also allegedly diverted money from the fund to buy automobiles and pay personal expenses. "Some" of those JW Investors allegedly lost a total of between $1,000,000.00 and $2,500,000.00, while other JW Investors received all or part of their money back. In 2013, Rodney Hatfield pleaded "guilty" to the conspiracy charge only, and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Disposition of the case against Lloyd Myers is unknown. Myers claimed that he knew nothing about the frauds, which he alleged were committed by Hatfield.
ELIZABETH F. MYERS v. RIO LINDA/ELVERTA COMMUNITY WATER DISTRICT was a 2010-12 federal civil lawsuit which was settled in November 2012 when Water District paid $30,000.00 to Elizabeth Myers -- wife of Lloyd Myers. In 2010, a former general manager of the Rio Linda-Elverta Community Water District terminated Elizabeth Myers as the District's accountant after the District's auditor reported that Elizabeth Myers had used a district credit card for personal expenses, including trips to South Africa and Hawaii. Myers thereafter sued the District in federal court for allegedly violating her right to "procedural due process", and her right to "privacy", after information about the "alleged embezzlement" was leaked to the public and the press before she had full opportunity to defend herself, and before all internal employment procedures had been completed. Reportedly, at some point, Myers reimbursed the District for the alleged personal charges.
UNITED STATES v. WARD was a 2007-8 California federal criminal court case. In August 2007, a former Jehovah's Witness Elder, named Joel Nathan Ward, 50, pleaded guilty to 5 counts of wire fraud, 2 counts of mail fraud, and 2 counts of engaging in a monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, a form of money laundering. In April 2008, Joel N. Ward was sentenced to 9 years in prison, and to serve 3 years of supervised release after the completion of his prison sentence. Ward must serve 85% of his sentence, or more than 7 1/2 years, before he is eligible for release. Joel Ward, who claimed that he had no money left, was also ordered to pay $11,275,501.53 in restitution.
Joel Ward, a well known commentator and seminar speaker on Forex trading, ran an elaborate Forex trading scam through two of his companies, the Joel Nathan Ward Forex Investment Group, of Turlock, California, and Learn:Forex, Inc., a Forex trading educational center based in Sacramento, California. Ward also allegedly defrauded investors in a Hurricane Katrina scheme, which involved a real estate investment project in Mississippi, in which Ward allegedly diverted investors' funds to his own use. Joel Ward admitted that he stole the investors’ funds, using the money for his own compensation and expenses, and to purchase the Learn:Forex School in Sacramento. He also admitted that, in order to conceal the theft, he made “Ponzi” payments using other investors’ funds, and that he provided his investors with altered account statements. In a handwritten personal journal, which was recovered during the execution of a search warrant, Ward described himself as a "financial serial killer" and "just another scumbag con artist bilking old people out of their retirement money."
After various federal agencies started investigating Ward in mid 2006, Joel Ward confessed the ongoing fraud to his JW Wife around November 2006, and Ward thereafter sent a series of emails to his victims admitting the theft, asking for their forgiveness, and purposing that if they would allow him to continue doing business legitimately that he could soon recoup the lost funds, and repay them all their money.
Many of Joel Nathan Ward's victims were JW family members and JW friends who publically defended Ward to the authorities and media, including retired newspaper editor Edgar Spitzke, who was an Elder at the Monticello, Kentucky Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, in Wayne County, Kentucky, when he proclaimed:
"I find it hard to believe that he would purposely start a business that had no other purpose but to defraud, especially his closest friends and relatives," said [Ed] Spitzke, who said Ward is his wife's nephew. -- MODESTO BEE, 3/30/2008.
However, several of Ward's victims were in no mood for forgiveness. Ward's JW wife even eventually divorced him. She first showed Ward's aforementioned personal journal to her father, Oren Collett, who was Ward's partner, and Collett reportedly informed the federal authorities of Ward's confessions. Ward was eventually arrested by the F.B.I. in April 2007.
Even after his arrest and guilty plea, Joel Ward continued to plead with victims, prosecutors, and the federal judge to allow him to continue doing business legitimately, so that he could soon recoup the lost funds, and repay his victims all their money. Joel Ward's former mother-in-law, Barbara Collett, who, along with her husband, Oren Collett, lost nearly $100,000.00, told the Wall Street Journal that over half of Ward's victims wanted to forgive him and supported Ward's restitution plan (actually 44 of 79 victims who expressed their opinion). Joel Ward even told the Modesto Bee of his plan:
"Several friends who know my trading ability are willing to put up seed money so I can trade, and my commissions would go into a recovery fund. My former father-in-law and business partner, Oren Collett, would manage the fund and several victims have volunteered to sit on a board of trustees and act as auditors. I would have no direct access to the money."
Gene Myatt, purportedly a Jehovah's Witness businessman in Modesto, California, who lost $50,000.00, was quoted in that same 2007 Wall Street Journal article as supporting Ward's restitution plan: "If Joel goes to prison, no investor will be cared for." Russ Sharpe, who owns a marketing company in Oakdale, California, and who lost $480,000.00, stated, "I've watched him trade. He can exceed by vast measures what he has lost. ... I have no doubt that Mr. Ward has the capability of making whole this loss." Rohn Ritzema of Elk Grove, California , who lost $320,000.00, and Michael Mello of Sacramento, California, who lost $754,000.00, both urged the judge to give Joel Ward another chance.
However, David Rothell, an insurance broker in Bryan, Texas, who lost $15,000.00, told the WSJ that Ward needed to pay for his crimes. According to the Modesto Bee, Nancy Jones, an auditor from Dallas, Texas, who lost $50,000.00, stated, "If Joel had just come to my house and beat me up, I'd be a whole lot better off today."
Interestingly, the Commodity Futures Trading Association had a finance professor analyse Ward's business records, and he reported that of the $15,000,000.00 that Ward took in from investors, Ward only ever invested $2,000,000.00, and Ward lost $1,840,000.00 of that. In fact, of the two trading accounts in which no employee of Ward also traded, there was a profit of only about $1000.00. Yet, 44 of 79 of Joel Ward's victims still think that Ward is a financial genius. One can't help but wonder how many of those 44 people also believe that they are members of "the only true religion".
S.E.C. v. RONALD J. NADEL, JOSPEH M. MALONE, and RENAISSANCE ASSET FUND. In July 2006, a prominent African-American Jehovah's Witnesses Millionaire, with "Jehovah's Witness Connections" throughout both his home state of California and the entire United States, named Ronald Jay Nadel, of San Clemente, California, was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with various financial civil illegalities which were alleged to have been committed between 1999 and 2004 while operating Renaissance Asset Fund, Inc.
Notably, a 1981 media article labels Ron Nadel as being musician Larry Graham's "personal manager", and quotes Nadel denying rumors that Larry Graham (now PRINCE's JW mentor) had been then recently "disfellowshipped". Nadel also updated the reporter regarding singer George Benson's status as a JW -- relating that Benson had been recently baptized. Ron Nadel's "connections" were especially tight amongst the "African-American" and the "entertainment industry" segments of the Jehovah's Witnesses communities in both California and Las Vegas. Indications are that Nadel's connections included certain "Circuit Overseers" and "District Overseers", including some who may have been conveniently transferred out of the area just in the nick of time -- including to work at WatchTower Society headquarters.
Included in the S.E.C.complaint was a second Jehovah's Witness named Joseph Michael Malone, of Newport Coast, California, who was Renaissance Asset Fund's "Investor Relations Representative". The SEC alleged that Ronald Nadel and Joseph Malone defrauded $16,000.000.00 from nearly 200 investors, many of whom were elderly, and most of whom were Nadel's and Malone's fellow Jehovah's Witnesses. Joseph Malone allegedly was Ron Nadel's "second-in-command", and knew nearly everything illegal that Nadel was doing behind the scenes. However, the S.E.C. could prove only that Joe Malone received a significant salary of $230,000.00 from Nadel for his efforts. Before working for Ron Nadel at Renaissance Asset Fund, Joseph Malone worked for fellow Jehovah's Witness, Kenneth Baum, at Senior Resources Asset Fund (see below).
The investment scam which first brought the SEC's scrutiny on Renaissance Asset Fund was a failed outlet mall development project located in Dacono, Colorado. Renaissance Asset Fund allegedly bilked at least $7,500,000.00 from 126 JW investors between 1999 and 2002. The California business entity filing for FIRST DACONO DEVELOPMENT, LLC lists two Members for this Limited Liability Company. One Member is Ron Nadel. The second Member, who is also listed as the Registered Agent, is Stephen K. Swanson. In addition to being a Ronald Nadel associate and employee, Stephen Swanson is alleged during this time period to have been a Presiding Overseer at one of the Santa Monica, California Congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses.
A second investment scam operated by Ronald Nadel and Renaissance Asset Fund was International Currency Exchange, Inc., which was a California corporation formed in January 2000. Little is known about its business operations, if any. However, the corporate filing lists a prominent Las Vegas Jehovah's Witness Elder, named Carmine J. Baccari, as both its "Registered Agent", and its "President". Carmine Baccari's relatives included "Bethelites" then but no longer working at WatchTower Society HQ. In the latter 1990s, Carmine Baccari was also the Principal or President of two now defunct Las Vegas corporations called Quest Funding, Inc., and Benchmark Financial Group, Inc.
In 2002-03, Joseph Michael Malone was also the Principal of another financial services operation located in San Juan Capistrano called "Ap Canopy Funds LLC". The "Manager" of Ap Canopy Funds LLC was officially listed as "Alan Long", who was an Elder at the San Juan Capistrano Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
S.E.C. v. KENNETH E. BAUM and SENIOR RESOURCES ASSET FUND. In July 2006, the SEC also settled administrative cease-and-desist proceedings against Kenneth E. Baum, of Hemet, California, and his Senior Resources Asset Fund, LLC, based on his business relationship with Ron Nadel and Renaissance Asset Fund. With his "consent", the S.E.C. ordered Senior Resources Asset Fund and Kenneth Baum to cease and desist from selling unregistered securities, and ordered Kenneth Baum, to cease and desist from acting as an unregistered broker-dealer.
The S.E.C. alleged that between February 2001 and October 2002, that Senior Resources Asset Fund issued unregistered securities in the form of promissory notes. These notes purported to bear interest at rates ranging from 10% to 15% per year, and to mature two years from the date of issuance. Ken Baum, the manager and director of Senior Resources Asset Fund, offered Senior Resources notes and other unregistered securities to at least 28 investors and received transaction-based compensation in connection with his sales. As a result of this sale of unregistered securities, Senior Resources Asset Fund and Kenneth Baum willfully violated multiple S.E.C. regulations.
The Order directed Senior Resources Asset Fund and Ken Baum to cease and desist from committing or causing violations or future violations of the Securities Act, and ordered Baum to cease and desist from committing or causing violations or future violations of the Exchange Act. It ordered disgorgement and prejudgment interest against Senior Resources Asset Fund and Kenneth Baum. The Order further barred Kenneth Baum from association with any broker or dealer for a period of three years.
IN RE KELLY R. KONZELMAN and PACIFIC LENDING FUND LLC, KENNETH BAUM and SENIOR RESOURCES ASSET FUND LLC, RONALD NADEL and RENAISSANCE ASSET FUND INC, AND RONALD NADEL and ASSET LENDERS GROUP LLC was a State of California administrative action which preceded the above federal S.E.C. action. In August 2005, the California Department of Corporations issued a "DESIST AND REFRAIN ORDER" against these four JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES MINISTERS and their various co-conspiring business entities.
This ORDER identifies Kelly Robert Konzelman as not only the principal of Pacific Lending Fund, but also as the Vice-President of Renaissance Asset Fund. This ORDER requires that these four JWs and their companies to STOP selling unregistered securities, and for those individuals who were not even licensed security brokers, to STOP selling securities. They variously were also ordered to STOP making untrue statements of material facts, and STOP failing to make statements of necessary material facts. Most, if not all, of the illegalities of which the State of California complained related to the illegalities described above in the eventual federal complaint.
IN THE MATTER OF COOKE B. CHRISTOPHER, THOMAS H. SUNDERLAND, ERIK FISHER, SAN CLEMENTE FINANCIAL GROUP, and SAN CLEMENTE FINANCIAL GROUP SECURITIES was a 1996-97 "CEASE AND DESIST ORDER" and a "STIPULATION AND CONSENT TO ISSUANCE OF CEASE AND DESIST ORDER" obtained by the NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION BOARD and agreed to by the respondents.
The National Credit Union Administration conducted an investigation of the respondents' sales practices and alleged the following violations of federal law:
1. Sales to federally insured Credit Unions of Certificates of Deposit with unlawful maturity periods.
2. Orally misrepresenting to federally insured Credit Unions the maturity periods of Certificates of Deposit.
3. Engaging in unsafe and unsound sales practice when a salesman named Frank Chavez misrepresented on multiple occasions that his name was "Steve Miller".
4. Engaging in unsafe and unsound sales practice by attempting to place nonmember deposits federally insured Credit Unions.
The now defunct SAN CLEMENTE FINANCIAL GROUP was a San Clemente, California based Jehovah's Witnesses owned-operated investment firm in which many if not most lower level employees were also Jehovah's Witnesses. In addition to the individuals named above, the Order also mentions salespersons Bruce Carter and Russ Fowler (Russell Fowler) as having allegedly engaged in unlawful sales activities.
IN THE MATTER OF COOKE B. CHRISTOPHER, IN THE MATTER OF THOMAS H. SUNDERLAND, and IN THE MATTER OF SAN CLEMENTE FINANCIAL GROUP were three separate December 2000 "STIPULATION AND CONSENT TO ISSUANCE OF ORDER OF PROHIBITION" obtained by the NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION BOARD and agreed to by the respondents. The three Orders of Prohibition prohibited all respondents from further participation in any manner in the affairs of any federally insured financial institution, including but not limited to selling or placing investments with federally insured credit unions or providing investment advice to them.
TENNESSEE SECURITIES DIVISION v. SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES, INC. was a 1998 Tennessee state administrative action against another SAN CLEMENTE FINANCIAL GROUP affiliate -- this one operating out of New York City, in 1996. The alleged "offending" salespersons were Peter Liounis, Oleg Feldman (aka Alex Feldman), and Shaun Douglas Neal. Tennessee alleged that the three named salespersons sold shares in Sports Vision Technology, Inc., which were not registered with the state, nor exempt from registration. It was further alleged that the three salespersons made false statements of material fact, and omitted necessary material facts, regarding the financial status of SVT, regarding potential risks associated with investment in SVT, and listing of the stock with NASDAQ. Cooke B. Christopher and SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES, INC. consented to a $10,000.00 fine, three years probation, and cooperative monitoring of the firm's compliance with Tennesse law.
ARKANSAS SECURITIES DEPT v. SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES, INC., COOKE B. CHRISTOPHER, THOMAS H. SUNDERLAND, DAVID ALAN MULLENAX, and ROBERT MABREY MULLENAX DBA MULLENAX FINANCIAL GROUP was a 1999 Arkansas state administrative action. This state Suspension of Registration Order mentions that the Christopher Family Trust owned 50% of SAN CLEMENTE FINANCIAL GROUP, while Tom Sunderland owned the other 50% share. David Mullenax and his brother Robert Mullenax were the local Little Rock, Arkansas agents of SAN CLEMENTE FINANCIAL GROUP, who did business under the name MULLENAX FINANCIAL GROUP.
Here is a summary of just some of the interesting allegations and findings made by the State of Arkansas in this Suspension of Registration Order which ordered the named parties to Cease and Desist doing business in the State of Arkansas:
Regulators in seven states and the National Credit Union Administration have initiated proceedings and entered orders against San Clemente Securities. Each of those proceedings involves allegations of violations occurring with the offer and sale of securities represented to be Bank CDs. Allegations include sales by unregistered representatives and sales of unregistered securities. Regulators have initiated seven disciplinary proceedings against Cooke Baille Christopher. Actions include allegations of sales of unregistered securities and sales by unregistered agents. Regulators have initiated six disciplinary proceedings against Thomas H. Sunderland. Sunderland has been named individually for sales of securities in Florida as an unregistered agent and in other jurisdictions for failure to supervise.
The named parties sold Certificates of Deposit in Arkansas which did not exist at the listed bank. Annual percentage yield figure customers were shown and offered did not accurately reflect the "APY" the actual issuing bank was offering. With every offer, the various employees of San Clemente Securities and Mullenax Financial Group inflated the APY shown to the customer.
Unregistered employees of San Clemente Securities effected transactions in Arkansas, including Christopher and Sunderland. In February and March 1999, Eddie Leon Dubar, an Arkansas resident, offered and sold CDs to Arkansas residents. At the time the transactions were effected, Eddie Dubar was not registered to sell securities in Arkansas. Mark Zerebny, of Hemet, California, also sold a CD to an Arkansas resident despite not being a registered agent in Arkansas. Other unknown California employees of San Clemente Securities sold CDs to Arkansas residents.
San Clemente Securities, Cooke Christopher, Tom Sunderland, Dave Mullenax, and Bob Mullenax made misrepresentations or omissions of material facts to and otherwise engaged in a course of business which operated as a fraud or deceit to residents of Arkansas. Such violations constitute grounds to suspend or revoke the registrations of San Clemente Securities, Dave Mullenax, and Bob Mullenax, and fine San Clemente Securities, Cooke Christopher, Dave Mullenax, and Bob Mullenax.
David Mullenax and Robert Mullenax misrepresented products they offered and sold, guaranteed customers they could not incur losses, and made untruthful representations that securities sold could subsequently be traded. San Clemente Securities, Dave Mullenax, and Bob Mullenax represented to customers they would not be charged commissions or fees when in fact commissions and fees were charged. San Clemente Securities, Dave Mullenax, and Bob Mullenax used advertising and sales material in such a fashion as to be deceptive and misleading.
HERITAGE SAVINGS BANK v. SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES, INC., COOKE B. CHRISTOPHER, THOMAS H. SUNDERLAND, ET AL was a 2000 Texas federal court case in which Heritage Savings Bank, in Terrell, Texas, alleged that the named defendents had committed securities fraud and bank fraud resulting in a loss of $1,500,00.00 to the bank.
It was alleged that from 1994 to 2000, Cooke Baille Christopher and Thomas H. Sunderland schemed to defraud Heritage by inducing them to enter into investment contracts to purchase Certificates of Deposit and other securities issued by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association which would be held and managed for the investors by another corporation owned and operated by Christopher and Sunderland called United Custodial Corporation. Christopher and Sunderland created and used SCS and UCC specifically to carry on this fraudulent scheme. The defendants also represented to Heritage that if it purchased these CDs and FHLMC and FNMA securities through SCS, that SCS would place a corresponding amount of below-market-rate CDs on deposit with Heritage. As part of their scheme, the defendants falsely and fraudulently failed to advise Heritage that SCS and UCC would subtract undisclosed fees and commissions of 20% - 50% of the amount invested; that only part of its investment in any CD was federally insured; that the investment confirmations and statements they sent to Heritage were false and intentionally misleading; that money paid to Heritage when it liquidated an investment prior to maturity was actually money invested by Heritage in another investment or by other persons; that Heritage had no ownership in any investment that would be purchased in UCC’s name and, that in 1997, SCS, along with defendants Cooke B. Christopher and Thomas H. Sutherland, had been banned by the National Credit Union Association from doing business with federally insured credit unions because of their deceptive practices. Outcome unknow.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SECURITIES DEALERS v. SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES, INC., COOKE B. CHRISTOPHER, THOMAS H. SUNDERLAND, ET AL.
In February 2000, the National Association of Securities Dealers fined SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES and Cooke B. Christopher $15,000.00 for failing to maintain sufficient net capital, and failing to report numerous customer complaints to the NASD.
In June 2000, SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES filed to withdraw its membership from the National Association of Securities Dealers.
In July 2000, the NASD charged SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES and its two owners and officers, Cooke Christopher and Thomas Sunderland, with fraudulent conduct in connection with the promotion and sale of the CDs. Salespersons Jeffrey Schwertfeger, Jeffrey Katz, and Gennaro (Jerry) Chiappetta were charged with fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions. Salespersons Douglas Eichenberger, Justin Irving, Randy Rondberg, and Jeffrey Vann were charged with making misrepresentations and/or failing to disclose information to investors in connection with CDs.
IN THE MATTER OF COOKE BAILLE CHRISTOPHER, THOMAS HENRI SUNDERLAND, DOUGLAS GRANT EICHENBERGER, and RANDY TRAGER RONDBERG was a December 2000 disciplinary action by the S.E.C., which was consented to by the name parties. San Clemente Securities was expelled from the N.A.S.D. Cooke Christopher was barred from association with any NASD member in any capacity. Tom Sunderland was censured, fined $40,000.00, and suspended from association with any NASD member in any capacity for two years. Doug Eichenberger was barred from association with any NASD member in any capacity, and required to disgorge $13,950.00 in commissions. Randy T. Rondberg was censured and fined $10,000.00, which included disgorgement of $481.63.
Cooke B. Christopher and Thomas H. Sutherland CLOSED up operations in April 2000 as federal regulators began close scrutiny of their operations. In June 2000, the F.D.I.C. sent a formal Alert Letter to banks across the United States, which asked bank to pay close attention to any transactions they have done with the firm. The F.D.I.C. suspected that the nation's banks may have lost TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS after SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES took large hidden fees from the investments of its bank customers. Bank and securities authorities in nine states have taken administrative action against SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES, the FDIC letter said.
In January 2001, SAN CLEMENTE SECURITIES filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy claiming Liabilities of 3.3 million and Assets of only $470,000.00.
UNITED STATES v. COOKE B. CHRISTOPHER, THOMAS H. SUNDERLAND, NILS GRIFFIN, and JEFFREY A. VANN was a 2003-07 Texas federal case. The two officers and two sales representative of San Clemente Securities, Inc. were accused in a June 2003 federal indictment of a total of 81 counts, including one count each of "Continuing Financial Crimes Enterprise", Conspiracy, "False Statement To Financial Institutions", Securities Fraud, and Investment Advisor Fraud, plus multiple counts of both Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud, committed against multiple Texas individuals, financial institutions, and even one Lutheran Church. Notably, this indictment alleged that the defendants had grossed $5,000,000.00 during just one 24 month period.
In March 2004, Nils Griffin pleaded guilty to "Obstructing Examination of a Financial Institution" and "Aiding and Abetting". Nils Griifin was fined $10,000.00, assessed $100.00, and was sentenced to 5 years probation.
Jeffrey A. Vann also pleaded guilty to one count in 2004/5, and received four years probation, 400 hours of community service, and was assessed $100.00.
In June 2007, Cooke B. Christopher and Thomas H. Sunderland pleaded guilty to 57 counts and were each sentenced to 60 months in prison, with two years supervised supervision thereafter.
STERLING BANK & TRUST v. SAN CLEMENTE FINANCIAL GROUP SECURITIES, INC
UNITED STATES v. MATTHEW BRIAN PIZZOLATO; COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION v. MATTHEW BRIAN PIZZOLATO, WILLIAM CHARLES GUIDRY, and CAPITAL FUNDING CONSULTANTS LLC.; NUNEZ, ET AL v. SHEREL J. PIZZOLATO, MATTHEW BRIAN PIZZOLATO, ET AL; GUILLORY v. SHEREL J. PIZZOLATO, MATTHEW BRIAN PIZZOLATO, ET AL; DESELLES v. SHEREL J. PIZZOLATO, MATTHEW BRIAN PIZZOLATO, ET AL; and other yet to be identified civil and criminal court cases.
Sherel Joseph Pizzolato, father, and Matthew Brian Pizzolato, son, age 26, of Tickfaw, Louisiana, are reputed to be members of an extended multi-generation family of JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES living in Louisiana. Sara [Crouch] Pizzolato, originally from Oregon and West Virginia, is wife of Sherel "Sonny" Pizzolato and mother of Matthew Pizzolato.
On November 20, 2009, Matthew B. Pizzolato, age 26, was arrested for allegedly running a $19.5 million Ponzi scheme. A federal grand jury in New Orleans returned a 64-count indictment against Matt Pizzolato for allegedly stealing investments from 160 elderly clients from the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. The indictment included 52 counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, seven counts of money laundering, one count of securities fraud, and one count each of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
The 26 year-old Pizzolato was allegedly the head of 20 different companies in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, and Lake Charles. Young Pizzolato allegedly had preyed on elderly clients since at least 2005 -- promising them steep returns on investments in certificates of deposit, U.S. Treasury bills, and other guaranteed and insured investments. Instead, Matt Pizzolato allegedly used his clients' money to bankroll a luxurious lifestyle -- purchasing or leasing a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Range Rover and Corvette. Matt Pizzolato also built a $600,000.00+ home in Ponchatoula, and allegedly bought a $35,000 engagement ring for his fiancee. Pizzolato family members and their friends also allegedly benefited -- allegedly receiving millions of dollars in payments.
Of the $19.5 million he collected, Matthew Pizzolato distributed about $2.8 million back to his clients in the form of "lulling payments, " or supposed returns on their investments, in order to quell any suspicions that he was a fraud. Federal authorities learned of Pizzolato's business activities after receiving a tip from the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions (LOFI), which oversees state-chartered banks and financial firms. LOFI issued a cease-and-desist order against Sherel J. Pizzolato, Matthew B. Pizzolato, and OTHERS in January of 2008, ordering them to stop selling securities through Gulf Region Guaranty Inc., Gulf States Guaranty LLC, Allegiance Financial LLC, and Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC. Other business entities alleged to be affiliated with Pizzolato include:
Acadian Guaranty Group, LLC; Annuity Presets, LLC; Annuity Recovery Services, LLC; Anova Marketing Systems, LLC; Anova Marketing Systems, LLC; Anytime Fitness of Sulphur, LLC; Global Assured Financial, Inc.; Green Pelican Group, Inc.; Gulf South Guaranty, Inc.; GRG Holdings, LLC; GRG I, LLC; GRG II, LLC; Matt P, LLC; National Insurance Advisors, LLC; Pelican Guaranty Group, Inc.; and Spectrum Lending Group, LLC.
In addition to the federal criminal court cases, four civil court cases, including one class-action lawsuit, were filed earlier in 2009 by investors seeking return of their investments. The defendants in the ongoing class-action lawsuit include alleged "principals" of the various business entities named above:
Matthew B. Pizzolato, Sherel J. Pizzolato Jr., and David Compton -- all of Tickfaw; Jeremy Jallans, of Laplace; Shana Morgan, of Denham Springs; Perry Dixon, of St. Amant; William Guidry and Sharon Dixon, both of Lacombe; Jeremy Rowe, of Gonzales; Jeremy Galaviz and Heath Huguet, both of Covington; and John Compton, of Ponchatoula.
In July 2010, then 26 year-old Matthew Brian Pizzolato "took the fall", and pleaded guilty to 21 federal counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, securities fraud, and witness tampering involving his operation of what federal prosecutors said was the "Largest Ponzi Scheme in Louisiana's History". Matthew Pizzolato was sentenced to the statutory maximum of 30 years in federal prison, and was ordered to pay over $15,000,000.00 in restitution to the 165 victims he defrauded. Subsequent appeals to the USCA and even SCOTUS have failed or been denied.
Although he had only a GED and an eighth-grade education, Matthew Pizzolato told clients that he was one of the top 10 financial planners in the country; possessed special training in investing; was a certified estate planner; and had graduated from law school.
Status of other civil and criminal cases against other family members and business associates is unknown.
UNITED STATES v. ABRACZINSKAS was a 2001-2 Florida federal criminal court decision. In February 2002, William Abraczinskas was convicted on one count of money laundering and on one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and was sentenced to 121 months in federal prison. William Joseph Abraczinskas, 38, of Warren, Oregon, was a prominent Jehovah's Witness Millionaire International Banker-Investor-Entrepeneur, who over the years has done business, both domestic and international, in a number of different states and foreign countries; often with a number of different business associates who are variously characterized as "investors", "partners", "principals", "employees", "owners", "corporate officers", etc. Some of these associates have been identified as being Jehovah's Witnesses, while some others also were probably JWs or family members of JWs. Some of Bill Abraczinskas' business associates were members of his own family, and some were members of William Abraczinskas' wife, Kerrylee Harrington Abraczinskas' family. A "Leon Tucker Harrington" a/k/a "Tucker Leon Harrington" has been named by various other websites in some of Bill J. Abraczinkas's business dealings, as has a person, who may be Canadian, named "Richard A. Downes".
Sometime during the 1990s, William J. Abraczinskas had formed a business in Oregon called Globallink LLC, which conducted various domestic and international banking and other business operations under various subsidiaries using forms of the Globallink name. Abraczinskas' also conducted a wide variety of other business dealings through multiple other corporations, some of which are discussed below. At some point prior to 2001, the business operations of Globallink LLC and William J. Abraczinskas had caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the F.B.I. set up a "sting" in Miami, Florida, to see what Abraczinskas would do when presented with the opportunity to "launder" drug proceeds for a Mexican Drug Cartel. Abraczinskas agreed to use offshore bank accounts belonging to Globallink LLC to launder the cartel's drug money for a mere 10% fee.
UNITED STATES v. ABRACZINSKAS. Limited details. Apparently, Bill Abraczinskas was sent to a minimum security federal "resort" for white-collar criminals, because sometime thereafter, he and another prisoner escaped. Both were eventually caught and prosecuted. Abraczinskas was sentenced to have an additional 15 months to be tacked onto his original sentence. However, Abraczinskas won this appeal to have the sentenced reviewed, which seems to make little sense given that the sentencing range was 12 to 18 months.
HAMBLETON BROTHERS LUMBER COMPANY v. BALKIN ENTERPRISES, INC. ET AL is a 2005 USCA decision, in which William Abraczinskas, his wife Kerrylee Harrington-Abraczinskas, and a corporation owned by Abraczinskas, called Financial Investments, Inc., are Defendants-Appellees. Here are some excerpts which refer to Abraczinskas and Financial Investments' role in the events that gave rise to this lawsuit:
"... [Jim] Ballinger was formerly the president of Balkin Enterprises, an Oregon corporation that had entered into a contract with Hambleton Brothers in 1994 giving Hambleton Brothers the right to all merchantable timber on a particular parcel of land for a period of just over three years. Before Hambleton Brothers could log the property, it was sold by one William Abraczinskas, an unauthorized individual purporting to be Balkin's agent, and then logged by another company. Hambleton Brothers, gaining nothing for the funds it had paid for the logging rights, brought suit ... ... ...
"On July 5, 1995, William Abraczinskas signed an unrecorded warranty deed transferring the Fruitland real estate from Balkin to Financial Investments, Inc. for ten dollars. Although Abraczinskas signed the deed purporting to be Balkin's vice president, he was not an employee, officer, or shareholder of Balkin. Ballinger and Kinsey knew Abraczinskas and had conducted business with him on a prior occasion, but neither authorized him to engage in any transaction on behalf of Balkin Enterprises. Financial Investments was Abraczinskas's own company. After several other rapid property transactions, Cascade Pacific Land & Timber bought a timber deed to the Fruitland real estate and logged the property. ... ... ...
"On July 7, 1995, Financial Investments deeded the Fruitland property to Sherry Miles for $129,000, for which Miles signed a promissory note. Financial Investments sold the note to Great Northwest Investments on July 12, 1995. Miles deeded the property to MGM Development, Inc. on February 16, 1996. On August 1, 1996, MGM Development granted a timber deed for all timber on the Fruitland property to Cascade Pacific Land & Timber for $32,000. ... ...
"... Ballinger was named as a defendant, along with Balkin Enterprises, Kinsey, Mr. and Mrs. Abraczinskas, Financial Investments, and Trevor Coxen, the president of Financial Investments. On October 24, 2001, the district court granted Hambleton Brothers's motion for entry of default against Balkin and Financial Investments. ... ... ...
"... Instead, the loss to Balkin caused by Abraczinskas, with his complex and covert scheme of fraudulent land transfers, cannot be viewed as reasonably foreseeable by the incorporators of Balkin.
Interestingly, sometime prior to 2001, William Abraczinskas also had started a business in Montana called The Bank Exchange. Sometime around 2000-1, Bill Abraczinskas sold The Bank Exchange to fellow Jehovah's Witnesses, Darryl K. Willis and Dale A. Erickson (see next summary). The State of Montana apparently closed down The Bank Exchange sometime in early 2002 (prior to Willis' and Erickson's arrests for the Anderson Swindle), because it allegedly was being used in a scam involving the formation and operation of offshore credit unions . However, Willis and Erickson (nor Abraczinskas) were ever prosecuted for any TBE dealings, possibly because the State of Montana did not want to expend the additional resources given the pending Anderson Swindle prosecutions, and possibly because any investigation of TBE would possibly embarrass or even implicate various Montana politicians and elected officials.
What is extremely interesting is the fact that in April 2000, Globalink LLC signed an exclusive contract with the Montana Department of Commerce to develop its Foreign Capital Depository Program. Under that deal, Globalink LLC was to conduct due diligence investigations of all persons or entities applying for a depository charter in Montana and make recommendations to the Commissioner of Banking and Financial institutions whether they should be approved. According to multiple webpages, the President of Globalink LLC was a man experienced in international banking operations, named Doug Hamilton, who lived in Whitefish, Montana. According to the October 2001 edition of the Northwest Financial Review, Doug Hamilton and Darryl K. Willis filed Montana's very first application for a depository charter -- First Depository of Montana Inc. -- using a San Diego, California attorney, according to another source. However, the Montana Banking Board kept asking Darryl Willis for additional information, which he never provided. The application for First Depository of Montana Inc. eventually went unprocessed, despite the unusually strong public support for Willis and Hamilton from a certain Montana State Senator.
Click HERE, and HERE for additional readings on some of William Abraczinskas' other domestic and international business dealings. (Use FIND to search "Abraczinskas" on each webpage.)
"Largest Theft in Montana History"
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