Monroe L. Beachy, a 78-year old Amish churchgoer from Ohio, was sentenced to more than six years in prison Wednesday for defrauding members of his religious community of nearly $17 million, according to WDAM 7.
Beachy had been entrusted with managing the investments of more than 2,700 entities and members of the Amish community in 29 states. In the span of six years, his investment business, which filed for bankruptcy protection two years ago, lost $16.8 million.
“This was fraud on a massive scale,” said U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach. “This defendant took advantage of people’s trust in him and squandered the life savings of hundreds upon hundreds of families.”
Beachy pleaded guilty to mail fraud in March. A federal judge rejected his effort to serve his prison sentence at home. Prosecutors wanted Beachy to serve at least 12 years behind bars, but federal sentencing guidelines called for a shorter sentence.
Members of the Amish community initially wanted to settle the issue out of court, in keeping with their tradition of resolving disputes in private, but a bankruptcy judge rejected that plan.
“Members of the Plain Community said Beachy had ‘accepted the counsel of his church’ and wanted to dismiss the bankruptcy filing,” according to WDAM 7.
Investigators have not said Beachy personally profited from the fraud, but he did make a living for years offering his investment services.
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