Tag Archives: fraud

The Mormon Maddoff – Fraud and Financial Abuse

Mugshot of Bernie Madoff, Author US Dept. of Justice, Source http://money.cnn.om (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Shawn Merriman headed an investment firm, and served as a lay bishop of the Mormon Church.  Over a period of 15 years, he scammed $21 million from friends, family, and church members – gaining a dubious title as “The Mormon Madoff” [1][2].

Affinity Fraud

Using a Ponzi scheme, Merriman duped a total of 68 investors.  Exploiting his position as a bishop, Merriman gained the trust of fellow Mormons.  Church members who had invested, then encouraged others to invest.

Like Madoff, Merriman touted his investments as both “exclusive” and secure.   Rather than investing the money he was given, however, Merriman used it to support a lavish lifestyle.

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, domestic abuse, Religion

Candy from a Baby

National School Lunch Program, Author USDA (PD - Federal agency)

National School Lunch Program, Author USDA (PD – Federal agency)

‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me’ ” (Matt. 25: 45).

The fraud making headlines these days can run into the billions.  Ten million dollars may not seem an extraordinary amount, by those standards.  Still, it is substantial enough…especially when you realize that the stolen money was meant to feed hungry children.

A dozen people have been arrested in Arkansas for a scheme that drained funds from a federal program to fight hunger.  The program provides dinners, during the school year, and meals at community centers, during the summer months, to underprivileged children who would not otherwise have enough to eat.

The evidence suggests that employees of the Arkansas Dept. of Health Services responsible for administering the program approved wildly inflated claims, some by non-existent entities, in exchange for bribes.

The defendants have been charged with bribery, wire fraud, and money laundering.  Nine have pleaded guilty.  Statutory penalties will apply.  How much restitution may actually be possible has not yet been determined.

Arkansas has one of the highest rates of child hunger in the United States.  More than 275,000 children in the state qualify for free or reduced lunch.  The ten million dollars could have purchased 2.7-3.2 million meals.

An awful lot of milk and cookies never reached the table.  But stealing that food from the children who needed it was as easy as taking candy from a baby.

[1]  The Washington Post, “ ‘Mortified’:  Inside a $10M scheme to steal federal funds intended to feed hungry children” by Amy Want, 9/8/16,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/09/08/inside-a-10m-scheme-to-steal-federal-funds-intended-to-feed-hungry-children/.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Community, Justice, Law, Neglect, Poverty, Religion

Conned

A New Jersey nurse conned by the man she had hoped to marry has turned her attention to changing the state rape law [1]. Mischele Lewis wants scammers such as the one who victimized her treated as sex offenders.

Lewis met William Allen Jordan through an online dating service. He gave her a false name, false employment history, and false marital history. Only after the two had become engaged, and Mischele was pregnant, did she discover Jordan’s true identity and background.

As it turned out, William Allen Jordan had a bevy of ex-wives and fiancees, along with 13 children by 6 different women. One of Jordan’s British victims had gone so far as to write a book about him. Worse yet, Jordan had been convicted of child molestation, and had served time in prison for bigamy and fraud before becoming involved with Mischele.

On her own initiative, Mischele Lewis devised a sting operation that resulted in Jordan’s arrest. She compiled bank statements, emails, and photos; and secretly recorded conversations with Jordan. He subsequently pleaded guilty, and is facing a three year sentence.

Lewis does not believe this is adequate.

Since her consent to the relationship with Jordan was obtained under false pretenses, Mischele Lewis argues that Jordan’s scam amounted to sexual assault by deception. The New Jersey courts do not currently approve this theory of liability, which is why Lewis has been lobbying the legislature for a change in the law. Assemblyman Troy Singleton has now drafted the necessary bill.

Opponents of the proposed change contend that the new law could be so broadly interpreted as to turn common seduction ploys into potential felonies. It may be reprehensible for traveling salesmen to pretend they are single (when that is not the case) or for suitors to portray themselves as wealthier than their bank accounts might reflect. The question is: Should this behavior be criminalized?

Mischele Lewis maintains that women deserve protection against con men who take sexual advantage of them, as well as financial.

Something to watch.

[1] NBC News, “ ‘I Wanted Justice’: Con Victim Turns Focus to Changing Rape Law” by Jon Schuppe, 1/24/15, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/i-wanted-justice-con-victim-turns-focus-changing-rape-law-n291661.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

 

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Filed under Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Violence Against Women