| March 30
March 30 A Flint, Michigan pastor has been
charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with
running a $6.7 million fraud in which he misled churchgoers,
retirees and laid-off auto workers hoping for real estate riches
by appealing to their faith.
The SEC on Thursday said Larry Holley, 59, the pastor at
Abundant Life Ministries, told victims that because he "prayed
for your children" he was more trustworthy than a banker, and
told congregants that investors in his real estate business were
"millionaires in the making."
Eighty-three people from 14 U.S. states, including some who
turned over their life savings, have invested with Holley since
February 2015, but his struggling company Treasure Enterprise
LLC owes about $1.9 million to half of them, the SEC said.
A federal judge in Detroit this week froze assets belonging
to Holley, Treasure Enterprise, and Patricia Enright Gray, 55, a
financial consultant for the company.
All three are defendants, and according to the SEC had made
financial presentations promoted as "Blessed Life Conferences"
at churches nationwide.
"Holley and Gray targeted the retirement savings of
churchgoers, building a bond of trust purportedly based on faith
but actually based on false promises," David Glockner, director
of the SEC office in Chicago, said in a statement.
Treasure Enterprise and Abundant Life, which share a phone
number, had no immediate comment. It is unclear whether the
defendants have hired lawyers.
The SEC called the case an example of "affinity fraud," in
which alleged fraudsters target victims with whom they share a
characteristic, such as religion, ethnicity or employment.
Last August, the Michigan Department of Licensing and
Regulatory Affairs barred the defendants from selling
unregistered securities and making misleading statements.
But the SEC said the defendants have since "lied" to
investors about those proceedings, to create a pretext for their
inability to meet redemption requests.
The lawsuit seeks to recoup ill-gotten gains and impose
The case is SEC v Treasure Enterprise LLC et al, U.S.
District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, No. 17-10963.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Richard