Friday, September 16, 2011
'Amish Bernie Madoff' Monroe Beachy accused of stealing $17 million from his fellow worshippers
Thou hath the right to remain silent.
An Ohio man dubbed the "Amish Bernie Madoff" was accused by federal prosecutors of defrauding his fellow worshippers out of nearly $17 million.
Monroe Beachy, 77, was charged in Ohio Federal Court with mail fraud for bilking Amish investors in 29 states, federal prosecutors said.
Beachy moved his investors' money from safe securities to risky investments - and routinely sent out bogus account statements indicating a profit, prosecutors said.
"These representations were false and made to lead investors to believe they were earning interest and had an account balance that was over-inflated compared to actual assets," the indictment charged.
Beachy, owner of A&M Investments in Sugarcreek, Ohio, told The Associated Press that he was unaware of any indictment and declined comment.
He is a member of the Amish church near the northeast Ohio town where his business is based.
Authorities did not say whether Beachy had personally profited from the investment scam, but noted that he made a career out of providing investment advice to the Amish community.
Beachy's business declared bankruptcy in June 2010, listing $33 million in liabilities and just $18 million in assets. He could face 20 years in jail if convicted in the case.
A federal judge rejected a March request by some members of the Amish and Mennonite communities to settle the case out of court.
The religious groups argued that Beachy's decision to file bankruptcy "breached the trust of his fellow Amish and Mennonites," and asked that they be allowed to resolve the case.