A popular Missouri pastor has been sentenced to seven years in prison after swindling elderly investors in a fraudulent life insurance scam.
Pastor Jim Staley of the popular “Passion for Truth Ministries” has been sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of wire fraud, admitting that he cheated others while making $570,000 for himself.
In addition to prison time, Pastor Staley was also ordered to repay elderly investors $3.3 million for using his professed Christian faith and supposed family values to swindle the gullible senior citizens.
Raw Story reports that Pastor Staley misled victims into believing that billionaire Warren Buffett was an investor and convinced people to cash out on annuities knowing they would lose money. Adding insult to injury, the pastor continued to sell investments even after the state issued a cease and desist order.
In handing down the seven year sentence, U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber said Pastor Staley showed “very little interest so far in making restitution” and had repeatedly played down his crime.
So far Pastor Staley has repaid just $1,950 — a tiny fraction of the restitution owed to victims — despite an annual church salary of $127,000 and free rent in a $1 million house, according to court testimony.
Earlier this month Pastor Staley refused to take responsibility for his crimes, claiming that he was simply in “the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Speaking out in court earlier this week, some of Pastor Staley’s victims and their relatives called him “sick, manipulative and deceitful” and a “disgusting and sickening criminal.”
According to witnesses, elderly investors trusted Pastor Staley because of his religious bonafides and the fact that he had appeared on multiple Christian TV networks and radio stations nationwide.
Witnesses also note some of Pastor Staley’s victims were particularly vulnerable because they were slipping into dementia.
(Via St. Louis Post-Dispatch)