‘Biblical economist’ jailed for ‘end of the world’ cash scam
‘Fine Christian man’ Larry Bates, 73, former House of Representative for Tennessee and ex-Chairman of the Bank and Commerce Committee who went on to become publisher and editor of the Monetary and Economic Review this week took on a new role: that of a jailbird.
According to this report, Bates told listeners of Christian broadcast programmes that they should buy gold and silver coins to give them financial protection during a supposedly looming religious and economic collapse termed “Mystery Babylon”.
Trusting Bates’ status as a former Tennessee lawmaker and believing he was an honest Christian man, hundreds of people sent him money, and waited for their coins to arrive.
Watch Bates here speaking about a “Socialist World Order” plotting to impoverish middle-class Americans:
Few ever received their coins, and on Tuesday he was sentenced to more than 21 years in federal prison for leading a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that prosecutors said defrauded more than 400 people from 2002 through 2013.
Bates, his two sons and his daughter-in-law were convicted in Memphis federal court in May of wire and mail fraud. His relatives await sentencing.
US District Judge Sheryl Lipman ordered Bates, 73, to repay more than $21 million to victims. A large number of those victims were elderly Americans who lost life savings and the ability to pay for health care, prosecutors said.
The Bates family worked through First American Monetary Consultants, which had offices in Memphis and Boulder, Colorado. But they found customers from all over the country.
Bates, a Democrat who served in the Tennessee House from 1971 to 1976, promoted the company though Christian television and radio programmes, including the Jim Bakker Show. He used the airwaves to question the stability of the world economy as it faced what he described as a religious and social collapse.
Customers gave $87 million to the company for the purpose of buying precious metals. But the Bates family kept money from the payments for their personal use, spending it on commodities trading and a 10,000-square-foot house (930-square-meter) in Middleton, Tennessee. By 2009, the company had more than $26 million dollars in unfilled orders.
Victims begged the company for their coins or reimbursement. They were told that the coins were scarce, the coins were coming from Europe, and the US Mint had been shut down.
Judith Ponder, from Kerrville, Texas, testified at trial that she and her mother gave Larry Bates more than $1.8 million dollars.
Charles Grimsley, a pastor in Mesa, Colorado, said he and his wife gave the company more than $200,000 of their retirement money.
They got little, if anything, in return.
Lipman said there were customers who did receive the coins for which they paid, but noted “that is how Ponzi schemes work.”
Bates’ wife and friends spoke on his behalf during the sentencing hearing. Friend Tim Foster said Bates was very principled and called him:
A fine Christian man.
Bates said in court that he was:
Very sad for these clients of ours.
He accused business competitors, and private and government lawyers, of conspiring against him.
God is my defender. He knows the truth. He will expose the lies.
Bates’ lawyers argued he should be sentenced to six to nine years, saying that his age and declining health would make him vulnerable in prison. Dr Robert Burns, a specialist in geriatric medicine, testified Bates suffers from short-term memory loss and early dementia, and lawyer Mary Catherine Robinson said that a long jail term would be:
A death sentence for him.
The judge disagreed. Bates altered the course of people’s lives, causing them to suffer significantly, she said.
Lipman did not criticise Bates for his religious and world views. But she did say this:
Your use of religion to gain trust is appalling.
By the way, Bates is the author of a book called New Economic Disorder. Here’s one glowing five-star review on Amazon:
THIS BOOK EXSPOSES FED.RESERVE,OUR GOVN’T,BANKS AND ETC. IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN THIS BOOK IS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE. SOME FOLKS MIGHT THINK THIS BOOK IS A JOKE BUT THEY ALSO THOUGHT NOAH WAS A JOKE ABOUT THE FLOOD. DO THE INVESTIGATION YOURSELF?