Hindu swindler faces life imprisonment
Indian guru Annamalai Annamalai, above, who headed a temple in Georgia that went bust in 2009, is facing a life sentence for swindling his devotees out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Annamalai was convicted last August on 34 felony charges, including bank fraud and money laundering, and is now awaiting a prison sentence.
At his latest court appearance last month prosecutors presented a witness from New York who said that she had been financially ruined by Annamalai. She said she didn’t realise he was an impostor until it was too late.
Annamalai swindled people out of money in several states, officials say.
In Georgia, he ran his operation out of the now-defunct Hindu Temple of Georgia in Norcross. They say Annamalai repeatedly charged his customers’ credit cards without their permission and would later falsify documents when those charges were challenged by victims and credit card companies.
Said Valmiki Raghunathan, who identified himself as one of Annamalai’s first victims:
This guy has no good bone in him and I’m so happy to see him where he is today in an orange jumpsuit. Every person he touched, he stung them. He found the most vulnerable of victims and preyed on them for money.
Prosecutors say Annamalai used the money to support a lavish lifestyle, including funneling money into bank accounts in India. They say he also concealed assets as he filed for bankruptcy for the Hindu Temple. In all, officials say Annamalai stole more than $2 million.
Meanwhile, in Santa Ana, California, a Buddhist monk accused of fleecing members of his congregating out of almost $100,00 dollars has reportedly hanged himself.
Firefighters found 44-year-old Dao Nguyen, above, dead at the Tu Nghiem Temple.
Detectives have identified 34 people who gave Nguyen, the head monk, between $1,100 and $7,700 for airline tickets and travel expenses for a tour of Buddhist temples throughout Vietnam. The trip was never made, and authorities estimated the loss to his followers totaled around $97,000.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake.