ACCOUNTING, BANKING, and OTHER FINANCIAL SERVICES
CROWN v. BRUNO TSHIPAMBA was a 2019-20 British criminal court case which involved an African-British Jehovah's Witness ELDER named Bruno Tshipamba, of Addison Crescent, Old Trafford. Bruno Tshipamba, age 46, was convicted on January 22, 2020, at Minshull Street Crown Court, of dishonestly obtaining 21,881 pounds ($29,000.00) from Trafford Council, from January 2014 through June 2018.
Tshipamba was responsible for managing funds sent to him by Trafford Council to pay for his teenage son's care. However, Bruno Tshipamba used his fiduciary position to transfer some of those funds into his partner's bank account for their own personal use. Trafford Council is recovering all of the money it overpaid to Tshipamba. Council officers found out about the overpayments through carrying out an audit of the amounts it was paying to Tshipamba. That audit flagged some discrepancies and showed significant funds were routinely being transferred away from the account set up to receive council payment for his son's care.
Bruno Tshipamba is one of five Trustees of Manchester's Lingala Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. After pleading guilty at an earlier hearing, Tshipamba appeared in court again and was given a SUSPENDED nine-month custodial sentence. Tshipamba also has been ordered to undertake a 10 day rehabilitation activity requirement.
Judge Potter at Minshull Street Crown Court described Tshipamba's actions as being "thoroughly dishonest". A spokesperson for Trafford Council said: "Mr Tshipamba should be thoroughly ashamed of his actions. The money he fraudulently claimed from the Council could have gone on funding children with their support needs."
NEW SOUTH WALES v. MOHAMMED ZAHIDUL KABIR was a 2014-18 Australian criminal prosecution of a male Jehovah's Witness CERTIFIED P[UBLIC] ACCOUNTANT who stole nearly $75,000.00 from his tax clients. Kabir was a highly educated immigrant (MBA) from Bangladesh during the early 2000s. Kabir obtained another MBA and a Masters in Accounting eventually becoming a CPA, a Registered Tax Agent, and a tax firm franchisee.
A 2014 federal investigation revealed that between 2009 and 2014 that Kabir had fraudulently used 16 of his clients' tax file numbers to lodge false tax returns resulting in the wrongful payment of tax refunds into his own bank accounts amounting to $22,475.18. Kabir also stole money from 22 other taxpayers by withdrawing their tax refunds amounting to $51,693.00 from their bank accounts without their knowledge. In 2018, Mohammed Z. Kabir, age 43, accepted a plea deal in which he had to make restitution and serve at least 3 of 5 years prison sentence.
Despite Kabir's guilty plea, a local JW Elder submitted a character reference to be used by Kabir's attorney during the sentencing hearing. That JW Elder referred to Kabir as a "reliable man within his Bible [study] group", and relating that he was "surprised" to hear about Kabir's "actions".
UNITED STATES v. KARREAM HASAN SHEARD A/K/A KENNETH DAVID HARVEY was a 2005-09 Georgia federal criminal prosecution of a 28 year-old former WATCHTOWER BETHELITE named Karream H. Sheard. Karream Sheard (multiple aliases, also aka David Lawrence) and his two half-siblings were reared by a devoted African-American Jehovah's Witness Mother in New Jersey. After graduating high school, Karream Sheard volunteered at WATCHTOWER WORLD HQ, in Brooklyn, and also served as a Ministerial Servant at a Kingdom Hall in the Bronx.
After exiting the WatchTower Cult around 1998, Sheard relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, where his elder half-brother, William C. "Bill" Marshall Jr. (multiple aliases), got Sheard a job with him as a Car Salesman at an Atlanta area Chevrolet automobile dealership. Sheard publicly admits that he and his brother routinely used fake documents forged by another dealership employee in order to obtain financing for customers who did not qualify for financing. Sheard further publicly admits that he soon graduated to forging the fake financial documents himself -- first selling them to other car salesmen, and then later, to real estate mortgage brokers.
In 2002, Karream Sheard a/k/a Kenneth David Harvey and his brother William C. Marshall Jr. formed a supposed automobile leasing company named XQUISITE EMPIRE INC., which in reality was used to launder the ill gotten gains of criminals who did not pay taxes on their illegal income -- more specifically, to purchase luxury cars for members of the Black Mafia Family, a rap music connected drug trafficking organization that sold $270 million in drugs in major cities across the United States. Over time, the two brothers paid 50 straw buyers a "commission" to purchase 224 luxury automobiles, valued over $11 MILLION, in their own names, using their own credit histories. The autos were then turned over to the two brothers in exchange for the "commission" and the two brothers' promise to make all of the straw buyer's loan payments -- which never happened. When the defrauded lenders attempted to repossess those autos, the original purchasers had no idea where were those vehicles.
Gradually, the two brothers' responsibilities for the Black Mafia Family grew. William C. "Bill" Marshall Jr. became the drug cartel's Chief Financial Officer. Karream Sheard became the "fixer". Sheard forged documents to purchase cars, houses, and even large dollar amounts of jewelry for Black Mafia Family members. Sheard paid off employees inside several state motor vehicle agencies to obtain 250 driver's licenses, each with a fake name. When the DeKalb County, Georgia police impounded a cartel limousine with $2 million in cocaine and cash inside, Sheard manufactured notarized documents and retrieved the vehicle from the impound lot.
In 2005, the FBI and DEA ended the party by arresting many of the leaders of the Black Mafia Family -- including Marshall and Sheard. In 2006, William Marshall, age 39, and his brother "Kenneth David Harvey" were also indicted on charges relating to Xquisite Empire Inc. In 2009, Karream Sheard pleaded guilty to wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering, and was sentenced to 46 months (reduced later to 33 months) in federal prison, where he was visited every month by his JW Mother. Restitution of $2.4 MILLION also was ordered.
GEORGIA v. KARREAM HASAN SHEARD and GEORGIA v. KENNETH DAVID HARVEY, ETC. were MULTIPLE lesser arrests and/or convictions under multiple aliases in Georgia from 1998 to 2005 -- including providing false identity to police (2000).
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 acquisition. 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 aforementioned 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.
In this case, LCEC advanced $75,650.60 to Unified Solution Providers in April 2009, based on financial information purporting to come from its' owner, Solomon Idiaraba. Unified Solution Providers is actually a corporation established by John Umenwoke, and all of the stock is in the name of Umenwoke's girlfriend (last name "Mokgwathi"). "Solomon Idiaraba" was really John Umenwoke. The accounts receivable were fabricated, and LCEC lost every penny it advanced to USP.
The decision of this Canadian court is unbelievable! John Umenwoke, who receives a government disability pension, pled total poverty, so was NOT ordered to pay any restitution. Umenwoke claimed that he had sent all of the stolen money to his four children back in Nigeria to use for their college educations. Umenwoke received no jail time -- not even when he was initially arrested. Twelve months house arrest. Eight months curfew. 125 hours community service. One year probation with 50 additional hours of community service.
FYI, this court opinion also mentioned that John Umenwoke spent time attending and working at Norwood University in Michigan. Umenwoke also operated a Michigan corporation named Network Computer Reboot Incorporated.
This tax case resulted from the I.R.S.'s determination that Brooks had underpaid her 2005, 2006, and 2007 federal taxes by $11,399.00 due to a variety of questioned "deductions". The questioned deductions included a claimed charitable contribution deduction of $3500.00 in 2005 for undocumented "cash" donations to Brooks local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, and included a claimed charitable contribution deduction of $5200.00 in 2006, which itself included undocumented "cash" donations in the amount of $2200.00 to Brooks' local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, plus another undocumented $3000.00 donation to "a tsunami relief fund through the Jehovah's Witnesses" -- although Brooks admitted that her mother physically made the donation. (The IRS was also seeking $5584.00 in "penalties" from their JW Employee.) Amusingly, not only is it Pamela Brooks' job at the IRS to review others' tax returns for the disallowance of these same undocumented charitable contributions, but the WatchTower Society has for decades warned its members every November-December regarding the IRS's requirements for claiming a tax deduction for donations made to it and its local Kingdom Halls.
This tax court's discussion of a questioned "deduction" which related to a home owned by Pamela Lynn Brooks also disclosed some "interesting" information. At some point, Brooks had purchased a home in Riverside, California for $168,000.00. In 2004, some fire caused some "smoke damage" to Brooks' home. Brooks filed claims with BOTH her insurance company and FEMA, and Brooks eventually collected an unspecified amount of money from each. However, during the insurance company's investigation of Brooks' claim, smoke-damaged asbestos was discovered in Brook's home. The insurance company determined that it would cost only $30,000.00 for both the expensive asbestos removal and treatment of whatever other smoke damage remained.
"Petitioner did not make any repairs to, or remove the asbestos from, the Riverside property. Instead, she attempted to sell the Riverside property. Her initial asking price for the Riverside property was $335,000. After she received an offer and while the property was in escrow, petitioner's real estate agent discovered that petitioner had failed to disclose the asbestos problem to the buyer. Petitioner consequently agreed with the buyer to reduce the price to $305,000, an amount equal to the asking price reduced by the cost of repairing the property, including the costs of repairing the smoke damage and removing the asbestos. In September 2004 she sold the Riverside property for $305,000."
This tax court decision also affirmed the IRS's disallowance of dependency exemption deductions for Brooks' grandson in 2006 and Brooks' son in 2007, due to both relatives' ineligibility. Amusingly, in 2007, Brooks also failed to catch her "mistake" of deducting $23,000.00 for state and local sales taxes, instead of the alleged correct amount of $2300.00. The federal tax court ended this lengthy and complex decision with this assessment:
"... Petitioner is an IRS employee with many years of service. Her occupation involves the examination of Federal income tax returns. Despite petitioner's expertise, she claimed excessive deductions and dependency exemptions and failed to maintain adequate records to substantiate her itemized deductions. ... ."
MICHIGAN v. CHRISTIAN LONGO was a 2000 Michigan criminal court case which involved a Jehovah's Witness "Ministerial Servant" named Christian Longo. Chris Longo was reared as a Jehovah's Witness by parents who were prominent JWs. Longo's father was an Elder, and his mother was a "Pioneer". In the mid 1990s, the WatchTower Society selected Longo's parents to travel as special delegates to JW Conventions in several eastern European countries and the Baltic republics.
In September 2000, Chris Longo pled guilty to two counts of forgery and two counts of uttering and publishing in connection with a series of forgery and fraud crimes committed in Summer 2000. Similar to the modus operandi in the METCALF case above, Longo had manufactured, signed, and cashed checks which he duplicated from genuine checks issued to him by a construction contracting firm which had employed Longo to provide janitorial services. In actuality, Longo had faked and forged six checks amounting to approximately $30,000.00. By the summer of 2001, Christian Longo was again manufacturing and cashing fraudulent checks duplicated from employers' legitimate checks. Longo was never prosecuted for such, because by that time his criminal activities were swiftly escalating to theft of automobiles, boats, construction equipment, and the finale -- murder of his wife and three children (see OREGON v. LONGO). In 1992, an 18 year old Christian Longo had been convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement after he stole cash out of the cash register at a Michigan photographic equipment store where he was employed as a clerk.
FLORIDA v. MICHAEL CHRISTIAN CRABTREE was a July 2013 Florida arrest on two counts of "Fraud - Uttering A False Instrument" in Saint Augustine, Florida. Michael C. Crabtree, then age 50, of Deland, Florida, told arresting officers that he was a "Buyer" for OFF LEASE ONLY used auto sales, a large Florida used auto dealership with lots in Miami, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, and Orlando. Michael Crabtree's son, Ian Crabtree, is also an employee of OFF LEASE ONLY used auto sales. Tipster relates that they last knew Michael C. Crabtree, DOB 5/7/63, as an Elder at a southeastern Florida congregation -- along with his father, Richard "Dick" Crabtree". $30,000.00 Bond. Outcome unknown. Arrestees are presumed innocent of all charges.
MICHIGAN v. JOHN DENNIS LAFOND and JONATHAN DENNIS LAFOND was a 2010 Michigan state criminal prosecution of a pair of Father-Son Jehovah's Witness Elders at the Greenville, Michigan Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, who also owned and operated a local used automobile dealership called LAFOND AUTO SALES, in addition to owning a real estate business and a mortgage brokerage business.
In October 2009, the Michigan Secretary of State received a complaint from a LaFond Auto Sales customer which claimed that they had purchased an automobile and an extended warranty from the LaFonds, but had not been able to get their car repaired. In January 2010, without even holding a hearing, the Michigan Secretary of State suspended the license of the dealership after an investigation which uncovered 34 instances, between February 2007 and November 2009, of warranties which had been sold to paying customers, but which had not been submitted to the warranty company. Amazingly, the Lafonds reportedly continued the scam even while the state investigation was ongoing. The LaFonds reportedly attempted to cover up some of their fraudulent sales by performing some repairs themselves.
The Michigan Secretary of State told reporters that this was not the first time that it had had problems with LaFond Auto Sales. Previously, the LaFonds had failed to make title and registration in the purchaser's name within 15 days of vehicle delivery, had failed to provide copies of a document at the time of signing, had improperly disclosed odometer readings, and had invalid uses of temporary registration.
In February 2010, John LaFond, age 66, and Jonathan LaFond, age 41, were arrested and charged with 11 felony counts of obtaining between $1000.00 and $20,000.00 under false pretenses with intent to defraud. Probably due to the bad publicity to the local Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, in less than two weeks in expedited proceedings, the LaFonds agreed with the local Prosecutor to plead "No Contest" to only three counts of obtaining $1000.00 or more under false pretenses with intent to defraud. In May 2010, the LaFonds were each sentenced to one year in jail, plus ordered to pay $48,326.00 in restitution. They also were placed on three years of probation, during which they must complete 300 hours of community service, and they cannot be employed in fiduciary positions.
OFFICE OF FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE REGULATION v. LAFOND AUTO SALES was the January 2011 revocation of the LaFonds' Installment Seller License.
Barak K. Baker was the Manager of Circuit Leasing, Inc. (Thereafter, the WatchTower Society cut out the middleman and formed its own "Circuit Vehicles" auto leasing subsidiary, which allows this subsidiary company to purchase vehicles directly from auto manufacturers and lease such back to the main corporation.) "Barry" Baker is currently President of the BLOOD CONSERVATION SUPPORT FOUNDATION, whose large expenditures over the years seems to indicate a significant asset for the WatchTower Society's anti-blood transfusion agenda.
L. Dale Baker is also a founding Trustee of JAH-JIREH HOMES OF AMERICA, which is a Jehovah's Witness owned, operated, and occupied retirement community located near Allentown, Pennsylvania. Dale Baker is also the father-in-law of Judah B. Schroeder, who is a former WatchTower Society Attorney and the son of deceased WatchTower Governing Body member, Albert D. Schroeder.
KENTUCKY v. ERIC BRIAN MEUX was a July 2010-11 Kentucky criminal court case in which African-American Eric B. Meux, then age 48, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, pled "Guilty" to 7 counts of "Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument" (checks taken from two more individuals, forged, and cashed) and one count of "Possession of Marijuana", in exchange for a two year prison sentence PROBATED for three years.
Eric B. Meux allegedly is the son of the Presiding Overseer/COBE of the Hopkinsville Kentucky Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. (Be careful not to confuse the criminal records of Eric Meux with the lengthy criminal records of other Meux family members.)
INDIANA v. ERIC BRIAN MEUX were two separate arrests for "Conversion" in January and July 1996. Outcomes unknown. The Meux Clan is originally from Indiana, and this case apparently occurred before the entire Clan relocated to "where the need was great".
ALABAMA v. CELEOUS WILSON was a 2003 Alabama court case. In 2003, an Anniston, Alabama Jehovah's Witness, named Celeous Wilson, 31, was sentenced to one year in the Calhoun County jail for "writing bad checks". By March 2004, Wilson was allowed to participate in the county's work release program. However, on March 11, Wilson did not return from a roofing job, and may not have even showed up at the jobsite that day. During the evening of Wilson's third day of freedom, Celeous Wilson checked himself into Regional Medical Center for a supposed "psychiatric" condition. Outcome unknown, but sounds as if 'ol Celeous may be saner than most.
MASSACHUSETTS v. WILLIAM COUTURE was a 1970 Massachusetts bank robbery court case. In May 1970, William Couture, 56, of Sharon, Massachusetts, but originally from Central Falls, Rhode Island, was shot four times during his apprehension by police after he and two accomplices held-up and robbed a Tewksbury bank. Taken to St. Johns Hospital, in Lowell, Bill Couture refused to consent to needed blood transfusions before, during, and after surgery to remove the four bullets -- due to his beliefs as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Couture was listed in critical condition. Outcome unknown.
UNITED STATES v. HARRY WILLIAM MARRERO was a related 2008-9 Florida federal prosecution. Bill Marrero, reportedly also a Jehovah's Witness Minister, was Angel Cruz's co-defendant. In exchange for his cooperation in the Angel Cruz prosecution, Bill Marrero pleaded guilty on reduced charges and was sentenced to 97 months in prison. Bill Marrero apparently died in prison of unknown causes even before he was eligible for early release. (Notably, few persons connected with TUC, including victims, would cooperate with law enforcement against Cruz.)
Around 2007, in an elaborate "sovereign citizen" scheme perpetrated on mainly Latino-Hispanic Floridians (some of whom were probably gullible fellow Jehovah's Witnesses of Cruz and Marrero), Angel Cruz initially set up a cooperative called The United Cities Group (TUC) through which private companies and individuals could supposedly share goods and services. Soon, however, Angel Cruz allegedly convinced members that as "sovereign citizens" that The United Cities Group could issue its own currency, form its own banking system, form its own police force, form its own judiciary, etc. In mid-2007, Angel Cruz started printing and attempting to spend SIX BILLION DOLLARS of TUC's own paper currency, which Cruz named "The United States Private Dollar". Angel Cruz's currency featured the slogan "IN JEHOVAH WE TRUST". Angel Cruz declared the Federal Reserve System to be "Satan's banking system". United Cities Group also began to issue its own checks and bank drafts drawn on its on non-existent bank -- "TUC Private Currency Office".
Angel Cruz and his co-conspirators in Orlando and Miami were able to convince an unknown number of private companies, individuals, and even an Orlando Not-For-Profit called "JC Consultores Laborales", to give TUC real money in exchange for Cruz's promise to pay their bills. Cruz then turned around and attempted to pay the business expenses (including employee salaries) and personal expenses (including mortgages) of his members with his own worthless currency, checks, and drafts. In August 2007, both the U.S. Treasury Department and the F.D.I.C. issued warnings to banks that valueless checks and drafts amounting to MILLIONS OF DOLLARS were being issued by "The United Cities Corp" of Miami, Florida, and drawn on "TUC Private Currency Office".
Puzzlingly, Angel Cruz and his co-conspirators somehow managed to continue to operate this scam for another year. In July 2008, Angel Cruz and approximately thirty of his followers attempted to "evict" legitimate employees from a Miami branch of the Bank of America. Ten of Cruz's followers wore fake badges, fake police uniforms, and even carried firearms. This pack of HISPANIC NUTS presented a "court order" issued by Angel Cruz's own "The United Cities Group Circuit Court". Cruz's own "court order" referenced a pending $15 Billion lawsuit against the Bank of America filed by Cruz in Miami-Dade County Court, in which Cruz alleged the Bank of America had wronged him because an Orlando branch of Bank of America refused to cash $14.3 million in TUC "bank drafts." Angel Cruz and TUC Vice-Chairman Gladstone Gardner (Jamaican immigrant -- unknown if also a Jehovah's Witness) were arrested on misdemeanor "trespass" charges. The Bank of America was forced to file a federal civil lawsuit against United Cities, and obtained a federal court order ordering the group to stop attempting to defraud Bank of America, or otherwise harassing Bank of America in any manner, plus was awarded $28,810.00. Shortly, thereafter, Angel Cruz and Bill Marrero were indicted, and Marrero was prosecuted and imprisoned.
According to a November 2008 MIAMI HERALD article, Angel Cruz was then also being investigated for an alleged mortgage scam, known as "Lifeline", which allegedly scammed Florida homeowners out of approximately $500,000.00.
Other previous business ventures connected to Angel Cruz include Global Private Housing and Financing and Global Private Bridge & Highway Administration Group.
FLORIDA v. JOHN PHILIP ELLIS SR., FLORIDA v. ROBERT KOCH, FLORIDA v. JEFFREY POLLARD, FLORIDA v. MARK KENNEDY, FLORIDA v. EDWARD G. RICCARDI, and FLORIDA v. SHARON ALFONSO were six related 1999-2002 Florida federal criminal court cases. John P. Ellis Sr. was the organizer of three companies called American Asset Protection, International Asset Protection Trust, and Capital Strategies, which had offices in Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, and Okeechobee, Florida. John Ellis and his sales staff sold so-called "foreign" common-law trusts that they claimed did not require the need to file federal tax returns. Customers were told that if they bought a trust from Ellis that they and their ownership interest could remain secret and continue to control the property placed in the trust by their being named manager of the trust. John Ellis and some staffers reportedly claimed that they were "sovereign citizens", and many if not most of Ellis's customers were members of Florida's "sovereign citizen" community.
In October 1999, John Philip Ellis Sr., then age 49, was charged with conspiracy to obstruct and impede the Internal Revenue Service in the assessment and collection of taxes, obstruction of justice, and structuring financial transactions to avoid the bank reporting requirement. Robert Koch, Sharon Alfonso, Mark Kennedy, Jeffrey Pollard and Edward G. Riccardi were charged with conspiracy to obstruct and impede the IRS in the assessment and collection of taxes. It was alleged that between 1993 and 1999 that Ellis's companies sold more than 360 trusts to over 150 customers, costing $6000.00 to $23,000.00 each, which eventually caused the federal government loss of 5 million tax dollars.
Kennedy, Alfonso, and Riccardi eventually cut a plea deal to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy in exchange for their assistance in the prosecution of the other three defendants. Their sentences ranged from a year on house arrest to 21 months in prison.
John P. Ellis Sr. was convicted by a federal jury on the conspiracy and obstruction charges only, and was sentenced to 126 months in prison. Jeff Pollard, age 46, was convicted and received a prison term of 60 months. Bob Koch, age 51, also was convicted, and received a sentence of 58 months.
During the trial, when John Ellis Sr. took the witness stand to testify in his own defense, Ellis refused to "swear" to tell the truth. When Ellis began quoting Matthew 5:34-37, the judge cut off Ellis's explanation and removed the jury from the courtroom. After that session, "acquaintances" of John Ellis explained to reporters that John Philip Ellis Sr. was a Jehovah's Witness -- who supposedly are forbidden to swear oaths.