FLINT – A former pastor and his associate have been sentenced for their role in a multi-year Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 140 individuals from multiple states out of nearly $9.3 million, announced Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin.
Joining Mohsin in the announcement was Brian Thomas, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division.
Sentenced were Larry A. Holley, 64, of Grand Blanc and Patricia E. Gray, 60, of Flint. Holley received a sentence of 100 months in federal prison followed by a two-year term of supervised release. Gray received a sentence of 42 months in federal prison followed by a two-year term of supervised release. A restitution hearing will be set by United States District Judge Laurie Michelson, at which time the court will determine the amount of restitution each defendant will be required to pay back to the victims.
“Holley and Gray deliberately misled investors to convince them to turn over their savings,” said Acting US Attorney Mohsin. “Investors should not be lulled into trusting an investment advisor just because they know them or because they are a member of an organization to which they belong.”
“Today’s sentencing is another reminder that when an investor promises not only extraordinarily high returns, but also guaranteed returns, it’s too good to be true,” said Brian Thomas, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Detroit Field Office. “IRS-CI is committed to investigating Ponzi schemes similar to that of Holley and Gray’s and will aggressively act to protect American taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”
According to court records, Gray and Holley, who was a pastor at Abundant Life Ministries in Flint, operated Treasure Enterprise, LLC, which fraudulently purported to provide financial planning and asset management services to investors. Holley and Gray solicited many of the victim investors at financial seminars held at churches throughout Michigan and other states.
As alleged in the indictment, in order to lure the potential investors, many of whom took their money out of legitimate investments–such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)s–Holley and Gray promised high, guaranteed returns, and the safe return of an investor’s entire principal at the end of the investment period. The money, however, was not invested and did not earn the profits to pay the guaranteed interest payments. Instead, Holley and Gray, and others directed by them, simply deposited the victim investor funds into Treasure’s bank accounts and then used the money for their personal benefit, for the benefit of Abundant Life Ministries, to make interest and principal payments to earlier investors, and to pay other Treasure employees.
Both Holley and Gray pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud on July 8, 2019 and May 28, 2019, respectively. Sentencing was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This case was investigated by special agents of the Internal Revenue Service and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ann Nee and Anthony Vance.
Resources to avoid scams:
Information for Victims in Large Cases
Heroin and Opioid Awareness