LOS ANGELES (CN) – A pastor and a record company executive conned people out of $32 million for a bogus coal mining and gold-trading company, a federal jury decided. Robert Jennings, 58, the pastor and supposed president of Tri Energy, and Henry Jones, 53, were convicted of mail fraud, wire fraud and securities fraud.
A third defendant, Arthur Simburg, 63, of Portland, Ore., already had pleaded guilty.
The three men took money for an alleged coal mine and a supposed secret deal for 20,000 tons of gold between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The men promised returns of 200 to 300 percent within 60 days. Many of the conference calls through which they ran their scam included group prayers, prosecutors said. The suckers were told the gold deal was “divinely inspired” and God’s will.
However, Jones spent more than $21 million of the money on his Marina del Rey music business, and bought himself a house there and a condo in Culver City, and a Ferrari and a Porsche. Simburg and Jennings also spent money on themselves.
Jones, who also was charged with money laundering and contempt of court for violating an SEC order, faces up to 250 years in prison. Jennings faces up to 180 years.