Monroe Beachy, a 77-year-old Amish man accused of running a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme, was charged with mail fraud today after allegedly defrauding thousands of people out of $16.8 million over two decades.
Beachy allegedly told investors his Ohio business in Sugarcreek, A&M Investments, would invest in mortgage-backed security Ginnie Mae Bond Funds, but he put investors’ money in government bond funds, individual stocks and mutual funds instead.
Today’s grand jury indictment accuses Beachy of mailing “false monthly and quarterly investment statements to A&M investors” in the Northern District of Ohio and elsewhere.
“As a result of Monroe L. Beachy’s fraudulent conduct, approximately 2,698 people and entities, including but not limited to the Amish Helping Fund, sustained a combined loss in excess of approximately $16.8 million,” the indictment stated.
When reached by phone, Beachy claimed he didn’t know anything about the indictment.
“Several people have called but I don’t know what’s going on,” he said.
Beachy also said he doesn’t have a lawyer and doesn’t know if he will hire one.
Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said Beachy “will be allowed to turn himself in.”
He may be in court as early as next week and could face up to 20 years in prison.
The ‘Amish Bernie Madoff’
Media headlines have compared Beachy to Bernie Madoff, the investment advisor who choreographed a $50 billion Ponzi scheme since the early ’90s, because of the long period in which they both falsified positive returns to investors.
Beachy raised at least $33 million, according to an S.E.C. complaint filed in February.
As part of the S.E.C. investigation, Beachy filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in June 2010 with a court in the Northern District of Ohio. Court documents indicated he has less than $18 million of investors’ money left.
In an unusual twist, according to a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy proceedings filed by members of the Amish community, about 2,550, or 94 percent, of creditors were in favor of dismissal.
Daniel Miller, 55, of Sugarcreek, Ohio, was one of 2,600 creditors in 29 states, mostly from the Amish community, who invested money with Beachy.
“I think the Amish can do a lot better job for the creditors than what the government can do,” Miller told ABC News in February. “Instead of the bankruptcy attorneys handling everything and dragging into the court system, they will take it and distribute it to the creditors involved. It makes more sense to me.”
Beachy also filed a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy proceedings.
Miller said it is common for members of the Amish community to pool their money together, as they did with Beachy, and try to settle disputes among themselves. He said Beachy did not pocket the collected money, and instead lived a simple lifestyle, even with a horse and buggy.
Beachy Led a Simple Lifestyle; No Madoff
Tim Warren, associate regional director in the Chicago office of the S.E.C., conceded that Beachy was not living an extravagant lifestyle, unlike other fraudulent financial managers.
“I think this case is unique because he was not pocketing investor money like other cases,” said Warren. “Here, he wasn’t.”
Miller said he drives a car but still adheres to the principles of the Amish community of simplicity and generosity towards others.
“They are very giving,” said Miller. “When somebody has a tragedy, people come together and give of themselves to help those people get back on their feet again. There’s no other sect in the world like the Amish.”
Miller said Sugarcreek has one of the largest communities of Amish people in the country.
“Everybody gives of themselves to help when somebody’s hurting,” said Miler. “The Bible teaches that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. That’s their agenda.”
Warren said Beachy’s case is an affinity fraud, in which a member of a religious or ethnic group may prey upon other members.
“They prey upon the trust from such a close-knit community and really exploit that trust,” said Warren. “Unfortunately, I have seen a number of situations like that.”
But Warren said he has never seen a case involving the Amish community in his 25 year career with the S.E.C.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
465965 251387 61
his path of destiny = Preying upon others. Scheming. Schemer.
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