SEC charges pastor with defrauding retirees, church members

Linus Unah – Fourth Estate Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Thursday announced fraud charges and asset freeze obtained against a Michigan-based pastor accused of exploiting church members, retirees, and laid-off auto workers.

The U.S. regulator said Larry Holley, the pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in Flint, Mich., misled members, retirees and the auto workers to believe they were investing in a profitable real estate company with hundreds of residential and commercial properties.

The SEC alleged that Holley cloaked his solicitations in faith-based rhetoric, replete with references to scripture and biblical figures.

Holley allegedly told prospective investors that as a person who “prayed for your children,” he was more trustworthy than a “banker” with their money.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Holley held financial presentations masked as “Blessed Life Conferences” at churches nationwide during which he asked congregants to fill out cards detailing their financial holdings, and he promised to pray over the cards and invited attendees to have one-on-one consultations with his team.

He allegedly called his investors “millionaires in the making.”

According to the SEC’s complaint, which also charges Holley’s company Treasure Enterprise LLC and his business associate Patricia Enright Gray, about $6.7 million was raised from more than 80 investors who were guaranteed high returns.

“As alleged in our complaint, Holley and Gray targeted the retirement savings of churchgoers, building a bond of trust purportedly based on faith but actually based on false promises,” David Glockner, director of the SEC’s Chicago office, said in a statement.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Holley, Gray, and Treasure Enterprise were not registered to sell investments.

The SEC is urging investors to check the background of anyone offering to sell them investments by doing a quick search on the SEC’s investor.gov website.

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