Ex-California pastor gets $ 33 million in fraud 14 years after fraud


WESTMINSTER, Calif. (AP) – A former pastor from Southern California was sentenced to 14 years federal prison Friday for leading a church-based investment program that killed hundreds of victims of more than $ 33 million.

Former pastor of the Westminster-based Church for the Healthy Self, Kent RE Whitney, has been sentenced to more than $ 22 million in damages. He pleaded guilty to fraudulent mail and filing a false federal income tax return last year.

The Securities and Exchange Commission says Whitney and his co-pastor have reportedly targeted the Vietnamese community in a multi-million dollar Ponzi program.

Whitney’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday night. Whitney founded the Church and ran it from an Orange County mall. According to the Los Angeles Times, the church did not appear to have a sanctuary.

Attempts to reach out to other church members have been unsuccessful.

Whitney cheated on its investors between September 2014 and April 2019, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. He directed church officials to advertise investments on television and at seminars where they made false or misleading claims.

Although few investor funds were actually deposited into trading accounts, Whitney had victims mailed monthly statements that contained false returns.

Whitney has also filed a fake federal income tax return, according to prosecutors.

He founded the Church for the Healthy Self after his release from prison on a federal conviction for defrauding investors in a commodities program, the LA Times reported.

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