Man convicted of cheating church out of $3m

2014-01-23 10:13


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

San Diego - A man who went from teenage millionaire to convicted con artist to professional fraud fighter and pastor was convicted on Wednesday of cheating his San Diego church congregation out of at least $3m.

Barry Minkow pleaded guilty to embezzling funds from the San Diego Community Bible Church, a US attorney's statement said. He was already serving a five-year sentence for a securities fraud conviction in Florida and could get five additional years when he is sentenced for the new conviction on 7 April.

Under the plea, Minkow admitted that he opened unauthorised church bank accounts, forged signatures on checks and used member donations for personal benefit.

"Barry Minkow is again convicted of fraud, this time for stealing money from the parishioners of San Diego Community Bible Church," US Attorney Laura Duffy said.

"We stand vigilant against those who cheat and steal without regard to the consequences wrought on their victims and their communities."

Minkow gained national attention as a teenager in the 1980s by founding the ZZZZ Best carpet cleaning company in Southern California. At age 21, he became the youngest person at the time in US history to take a company public, and he became very wealthy on paper.

But ZZZZ Best turned out to be involved in a fraud scheme in which investors poured $100m into fake fire and water restoration projects. And in 1988, Minkow was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of 57 fraud charges.

Religious conversion

He was released in 1995. Minkow became pastor of the San Diego church two years later, after undergoing a religious conversion in prison.

He also founded the Fraud Discovery Institute, which helped the FBI and other law enforcement agencies ferret out white-collar crimes around the country.

But even while working with the institute, he was engaged in manipulating the stock prices of the companies he was investigating, federal prosecutors said.

In 2011 in Miami, a federal judge sentenced Minkow to five years in prison for involvement in a scam that cost homebuilder Lennar Corporation at least $580m in lost stock value.

The judge, Patricia Seitz, said at the time that Minkow was a "very gifted person", but he had "no moral compass that says 'stop.'"

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.