A former religious leader heads to prison for illegal investment scheme.
Julius Blackwelder ran a scheme in which federal and state investigators said he accepted money, most of it from church members and associates, invested it in commodities and a Stratford mansion he was building, and lost virtually everything — more than $1.5 million, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Francis.
“Blackwelder lost money in 50 of the 59 months he traded,” Francis said.
On Thursday, Senior U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns restricted Blackwelder’s future trading to what might be dealing in cigarettes at a federal prison camp. She sentenced the 59-year-old former Mormon bishop and more recent cross-country truck driver to 46 months in prison as a result of his Feb. 20 guilty pleas to money laundering and wire fraud.
But it was Francis who detailed a 10-year fraud using extensive computer programs documenting a strategy of investing in grains, cotton, oil and meats future contracts and then selling them before their due date. Like Madoff, Blackwelder provided fraudulent account statements, false updates containing fictitious trades and even paid some of his earliest victims off with money from new investors, prosecutors charged.
Bishop Ponzi – has a nice ring to it. This is another example to show that those in positions of trust and power take advantage of that to cheat their followers. It pays to be skeptical of EVERYTHING from EVERYONE. They may be trying to fool you.