After calling a Perris pastor and one co-defendant “economic predators,” a federal judge in Los Angeles sentenced the men to prison terms for bilking investors of almost $30 million in a Ponzi scheme.
U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson sentenced pastor Robert Jennings, 59, to 12 years in prison Monday for his role defrauding 500 people of more than $28 million, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
Defendant Arthur Simburg, 64, of Oregon, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison, according to the news release.
The judge also ordered Simburg and Jennings to pay $28 million in restitution to their victims.
Co-defendant Henry Jones, 53, formerly of Marina Del Rey, is to be sentenced next year. Jones was extradited from Hong Kong in December, according to the news release.
The defendants promised investors huge returns — up to 300 percent within two months, but the company made no profits and had only two coal mines, according to the indictment.
Jennings had told investors he was president of a coal-mining company that had four mines and a stockpile of more than $1 million worth of coal, according to court records.
They also took money for what they called a secret sale of 20,000 tons of gold between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, according to the U.S. attorney’s news release.
There were group prayers and a claim the gold transaction was divinely inspired during the groups’ calls to investors, the indictment said.
Jones spent more than $21 million of the victims’ money on exotic cars, his Marina Del Rey-based music business and a house in Marina Del Rey, according to court records.
Reach Tammy J. McCoy at 951-375-3729 or tmccoy@PE.com