Photo of Church from Nikko Tan
Pastor, Kent R.E. Whitney, was charged this past Saturday for defrauding clients out of $33 million through church-based investments. Whitney will serve up to 14 years in federal prison.
The church-based in Westminster known as the “Church for the Healthy Self” was run from a strip mall in the city. However, the church didn’t have a legitimate sanctuary, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Whitney and his co-pastor were targeting the Vietnamese community in their scheme. The former pastor will now be forced to pay $22 million in restitution.
“Mr. Whitney, upon being notified of the investigation, immediately settled with the SEC, cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s office and accepted responsibility and entered a guilty plea,” his attorney, Kenneth White, wrote in an email Friday. “His focus is now on his family.”
Publications attempted to contact the church on the matter, however, no comment was made by the church.
Whitney’s scheme took place between September 2014 and lasted up until April 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. Those involved in the scheme were told to collect investments through television programming along with in-person seminars. Claims made during investment pitches included false and misleading claims to sway victims.
Victims’ investments were never put into actual trading accounts, the members also received false reports from the church.
Whitney also filed an inaccurate tax return with the IRS, according to prosecutors.