An Amish Ponzi scheme exposes the stark differences in how we think about crime

In Amish Country, Accusations of a Ponzi Scheme – NYTimes.com.

This postcard from a gentler and simpler America is about as unlikely a place imaginable for the news that broke in September: one of Sugarcreek’s own, a prominent member of what some people here call the Plain Community, was under arrest, accused by federal prosecutors of running a Ponzi scheme that betrayed his neighbors’ trust and wiped out more than $16 million of their savings.

As in the Madoff case, Mr. Beachy’s seemingly successful investment firm employed several members of his family. He, too, first attracted clients who shared his religious faith. And he, too, was accused of defrauding charities, congregations, even his own relatives. Predictably, headlines have branded Mr. Beachy “the Amish Bernie Madoff,” although he is presumed innocent as he heads to trial next month.

But the most intriguing aspect of Monroe Beachy’s story is how different it seems from Bernie Madoff’s — and from almost every other story with a “Ponzi scheme” headline over the years.

While victims of Mr. Madoff’s fraud, like most Ponzi victims, condemned their accused betrayer in court as a monster, many of Mr. Beachy’s investors have said in court that it is more important to forgive him than to recover their money.

Source: NY Times

The Amish and Mennonite creditors are insisting that the court’s way of dealing with this does not fit with their faith. This reminds me of the horrific murders in the Nickel Mines school a few years ago where this same community were willing to forgive the murderer of children. It goes against the grain of the justice system.

Certain odd points that are striking in this piece include the quote: “We were willing to sacrifice to live out those teachings. The teachings are more important than money.”

Here is part of the letter that the community wrote to the judge: “We are agreed among ourselves to accept your ruling as the will of Almighty God in this matter,” they wrote, after thanking him for considering their point of view so carefully. “If there is anything which we can do as members of the Amish-Mennonite community to facilitate the bankruptcy process and help bring it to a speedy conclusion please do not hesitate to contact any member” of the committee.

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  2 comments for “An Amish Ponzi scheme exposes the stark differences in how we think about crime

  1. Massachusetts
    February 26, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    This seems like an unusual article for this site. I’m not sure how it connects with pseudo science or critical thinking.

    • Massachusetts
      February 27, 2012 at 12:29 AM

      To clarify, these people know they’ve been ripped off. They choose forgiveness as a moral exercise. It’s an extreme choice but it’s done intelligently, I think. It’s not like the people in the end of the world cults, who dust themselves off after the world doesn’t end and proclaim that God heard their prayers and gave the world a second chance.

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