Update II: This morning a federal judge sentenced Beachy to 6 1/2 years in federal prison for his role in a ponzi scheme that jilted about 2,700 investors out of their money. In the wind-up to sentencing, the investor once again tried to play the Amish card, requesting home confinement rather than prison. And once again, the legal system politely reminded him that justice is as blind to beards as to any other differentiating circumstance.
"You must be punished for what you did under federal guidelines," Judge Benita Pearson told Beachy, according to the Plain Dealer. "There can be no carve-out because you belong to a religious community that I respect."
Update: Monroe Beachy entered a guilty plea today in federal court. His sentence could be 12 to 15 years in prison, but the 78-year-old's defense attorney informed the court he'd ask for a lesser sentence for the elderly defendant.
Monroe Beachy, the Amish man from Sugarcreek who federal investigators say ran a $17 million ponzi scheme, isn't planning on making a case in the courtroom.
According to paperwork filed earlier this month, the 78-year-old will plead guilty to federal mail fraud charges. This afternoon, Scene confirmed the planned guilty plea with U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Mike Tobin, but he declined to offer up details on what this means regarding possible prison time or other punishment until the plea is officially on the books. The accused is expected to enter the plea on Thursday.
Breachy — who was the subject of a Scene November cover story, “The Hayseed Hustler” — is accused of bilking more than 2,600 individuals out of their money. Since his arrest, Beachy has leaned hard on his Amish street cred while trying to fend off accusations he'd maliciously deceived his clients, many of whom were fellow members of the “plain communities” sprinkled around rural Ohio.
Me?, he was wont to thump the tub, I'm just a rube with an 10th grade education and a certificate from H&R Block, not one of them sophisticated Wall Street types — they screwed me, too!
The one thing that did seem to separate Beachy from your standard sleaze who uses the bells and whistle of the financial system to deceive clients is that the Amish investor didn't walk away with ill-gotten proceeds.
"In many of these fraud situations, we see the perpetrator spending a lot of it on themselves. We did not see that in this situation," Timothy Warren, an associate director at the Securities and Exchange Commission's Chicago office, told us back in November. "There was clearly a fraud here, and investors were basically lied to, but it's somewhat unique that, no, he was not pocketing the money himself.
"The fundamental issue was, he was telling investors he was buying one thing, and in fact he was investing in things that were far riskier."