Florida man sentenced to jail for defrauding churches in West Virginia of $ 5 million

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – A Florida man will be in jail for defrauding churches, pastors and others in West Virginia of nearly $ 5 million.

US Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld

Phillip Conley, 38, of Jacksonville, Florida, was sentenced to 87 months in prison Friday. This was announced by US Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld, Northern District of West Virginia.

“He was very manipulative and very convincing,” said Ihlenfeld in a video message. “He was able to ingratiate himself with the community in places like Morgantown, Charleston and other parts of the region and convince people that he was a very successful investment advisor.”

Conley presented himself as an investment advisor even after his broker license was suspended in December 2015. He started a company called ALPAX, LLC and persuaded victims to invest in bogus ventures such as college dormitory construction, high-income fixed income, oil and gas engineering, mining rights, and lumber leasing.

Victims include pastors, church members, lawyers, small business owners and other educated people in Charleston, Parkersburg and Morgantown, Ihlenfeld said.

“These were people who were intelligent and humble, people who otherwise succeeded in their lives. So it was a multitude of people who fell victim to Mr. Conley, ”he said.

Conley spent the stolen money on private jets, designer clothes, fine dining, jewelry, and housing and living expenses.

“Everyone believed that this guy was a legitimate, successful investment advisor and wanted to invest their money with him,” said Ihlenfeld.

The scam resulted in Conley robbing investors of their life savings. Ihlenfeld said Conley spent the money he stole on things that are intangible.

“There is no real estate, no cars, no investment accounts that we can seize, liquidate and return to the victims,” ​​he said.

Ihlenfeld said Conley would have to make amends after his release from prison.

“It will be a very long time before he ever repays these victims nearly $ 5 million, and I doubt he ever will,” he said.

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