Duo Convicted In Operating Church Ponzi Scheme 10-27-2010 - WNEM TV 5

Duo Convicted In Operating Church Ponzi Scheme 10-27-2010

Two men accused of using a Ponzi scheme to defraud African-American churches in several Michigan communities were found guilty by a Wayne County jury Tuesday.
Michael J. Morris, 30, of Waldorf, Md., and William T. Perkins, 55, of Oxon Hill, Md., were found guilty of single counts of racketeering, a 20-year felony, and conspiracy to commit false pretenses, a 10-year felony, plus three counts of false pretenses over $20,000, a 10-year felony.
The trial lasted 12 days and the jury returned the guilty verdicts after three days of deliberation.
State Attorney General Mike Cox said in a statement that New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist Church in Flint and Greater Coleman Temple Church of God in Christ in Saginaw and were among 21 Michigan churches bilked by the duo.
"These felony convictions bring justice for the churches and for the greater community that fell victim to this extensive ponzi scheme," Cox said.
Cox said the men approached the churches and offered to proved electronic kiosks free of charge for use in religious education, community events and fundraising. Church officers believed they were leasing the video terminals, but learned they had signed purchase agreements instead.
As a result of the fraud, the churches would have been liable for approximately $660,000.
Authorities said Morris and Perkins targeted over 160 churches in 13 other states and the District of Columbia.
One of the churches, Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ in Detroit, is ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's former church.
Both defendants will be sentenced before Judge Gregory Bill on Dec. 6.
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