Christmas Gift: Poor Persecuted Pastor, Convicted of Securities Fraud, Gets Unbelievably Lenient Sentence December 21, 2013

Christmas Gift: Poor Persecuted Pastor, Convicted of Securities Fraud, Gets Unbelievably Lenient Sentence

Imagine you are convicted of multiple fraud-related felonies involving the theft of a six-figure sum of money. You’re looking at a maximum sentence of 30 years. If the prosecution asked for a ten-year sentence with five years suspended, you’d probably breathe a sigh of relief, even though you’d still expect to spend considerable time behind bars. A couple of years at least, right?

Montana pastor and one-time novelist Harris Himes, however, bagged himself a Christmas miracle of sorts when he got a judge to sentence him to roughly 65 days.

Himes was convicted of failure to register a security, failure to register as a security salesperson, and fraudulent practices, all felonies. … [He] was sentenced Friday afternoon by Madison County District Judge Loren Tucker to a 10-year commitment to the Montana Department of Corrections, with all but 90 days suspended.

Those 90 days actually add up to about 65, as the judge was kind enough to give Himes a second sweetheart deal: a sentence of five days a week.

“Out of the 90 days, you may have two days each week to go about the tasks that are important to you,” Tucker said.

Himes and a fellow pastor, James “Jeb” Bryant, had been on trial for swindling a former parishioner out of his inheritance.

Court records said the two promised the man a large return on his investment in the Mexican-based building materials company Duratherm Building Systems. At trial in September, the man testified that he was surprised to find the factory was nothing more than an empty agricultural shed when he traveled to Mexico to help with the company.

The Reverend Himes has a well-developed persecution complex. A vocal enemy of gay rights and abortion, and an avid proponent of the verse from Leviticus that states that homosexuals should be punished by death,

Himes claimed he was the victim of “selective prosecution” by the state auditor’s office due to his conservative religious views.

One report states that Himes called the charges against him

… a “witch hunt” trumped up by “gay and pro-choice activists.“ He told the jury pool that “I am a fundamentalist, Bible-thumping conservative Christian,” and that his trial was part of a war on Christianity.

The judge rejected all that craziness, but continued to show his apparent soft spot for the defendant by, rather than sending him to the pokey straight away, allowing him to go home for the holidays.

“You can spend Christmas with your loved ones,” Tucker said. “That’s probably the best the court can do for you today.”

I wouldn’t say it’s the best the court did for Himes — that would be his ultra-low sentence — but hey, when you’re reaping the Lord’s blessings, every little bit helps.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • momtarkle

    Would a Pastafarian minister get the same treatment? It might be a good idea to sign up, just for insurance against “prosecution”.

    http://www.venganza.org/ordination/

  • Marie Alexander

    I wonder why the judge let him off so easily…

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Clearly the pastor was suffering from affluenza

  • If being a pastor was significant, it should have increased his sentence, not reduced it.

  • $925105

    It must be nice to be a “persecuted” Christian.

  • A3Kr0n

    “…to go about the tasks that are important to you,” Tucker said.”
    The judge is letting him out two days a week so he can continue to swindle people? What kind of country are we living in?

  • JohnnieCanuck

    Any chance the prosecution is going to appeal such a ridiculously low sentence?

  • Aspieguy

    I am stunned as well as disgusted.

  • Machintelligence

    I sincerely hope the suspended sentence is contingent upon his actually making the $150,000 restitution.

  • I knew being a pastor precluded you from doing time for child rape, but securities fraud?

  • UWIR

    “You can spend Christmas with your loved ones,” Tucker said. “That’s probably the best the court can do for you today.”

    And that is, after all, what courts exist for: to do the best they can for convicted felons.

  • Itarion

    I lay claim to diplomatic immunity: I am an ambassador from the Kingdom of Heaven!

    Does that work that way?

  • Compuholic

    Something about this story doesn’t add up. I would have several questions:

    1. Only one parishoner was swindled? Why would a fraudster only pick a single victim?
    2. How did the pastor make any money? Did he own the dubious company in Mexico or did he recieve a provision for collecting the money?
    3. If he did not own the company: Was he aware that it only was a shed.

    This might be interesting information which also might explain the light sentence.

    On a different note: Generally, I think it a good idea to allow prisoners to go home over the weekend (of course only if they are non-violent and do no pose a threat to anybody). It is cheaper for the state and it doesn’t completely destroy their social bonds which makes re-integration into the society easier. A win-win for everybody.

  • Yoav

    Not if you try it on Danny Glover.

  • peter taylor

    Agree about allowing prisoners (non-violent) home at the weekend, places that do this have a much lower recidivism rate than those that don’t. So at the end of the day society as a whole benefits.

  • quasibaka

    Yeah , It’s not his fault . He was seduced by the thick wads of green paper which had ‘under god’ written on it . Hey , now that I think about it , he did it for god(or maybe goddidit) .
    Anyways JEEBUS LOVES and he repented in the eyes of JEEBUS and that’s what is most important.

  • Randy Meyer

    Is ‘suffering from affluenza’ the new euphemism for ‘being an asshole’?

  • Feral Dog

    More like a specific kind of asshole.

  • rg57

    Surely the ridiculous terms of the sentence can be appealed…

  • $84687101

    A rich asshole.

  • Lando

    I’m not sure if letting prisoners go home on the weekend would be much cheaper…think of all the paperwork and security involved checking people in and out of prison. If anything, the workload might shift from the weekend to Friday PM and Monday AM, and that’s assuming you could reduce staff during weekends, when you ENTIRE population is now made up of violent offenders.
    That being said (and I could be completely wrong about my above point), if it reduced recidivism and still served as a deterrent, I would be all for it.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I thought this was a bad joke when I first saw it, but then a Google search revealed that this was hard fact.
    The only comfort I take in this is that while this son of a bitch escaped justice, there is a God who misses nothing and from whom nobody escapes judgment.

  • Dan Summers

    American Justice.

    Affulenza anyone?

  • As always, when christians are prevented from having their own way on anything, they cry “persecution!” Especially if they are prevented from persecuting others.