In 2014, shortly after completing his nearly four-year sentence for commodities fraud, Kent R.E. Whitney figured an easy way to make money would be by conning religious people.
He created, from scratch, the bizarrely named “Church for the Healthy Self.” It was a virtual church with headquarters technically inside a strip mall. But rather than offer the Gospel, Whitney mostly convinced a largely Vietnamese community in Orange County, California to hand over their cash so that he could invest it. He offered no-risk plans that promised a 12% rate of return — both of which are unrealistic. The returns he prepared to show potential investors, as well as the monthly statements he sent people who gave him cash, were all fake. Oh. And he also lied to the IRS about how much money he made.
Ultimately, he scammed everyone out of $33 million.
And now Whitney is heading back to prison. On Friday, he was sentenced to 14 years behind bars for his fraud scheme. (He faced up to 23 years.) He’ll also have to pay back a large chunk of that money.
The former pastor of the Westminster-based Church for the Healthy Self, Kent R.E. Whitney, was ordered to pay more than $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.”
Sure. His family. He didn’t give a damn about the lives he ruined through his scams, but suddenly we’re supposed to think he’s a family man. At best, that only tells us how selfish he is.
It’s unclear whether or not he believed in God at all or if he only saw religion as a tool to dupe unsuspecting believers. Obviously there’s no shortage of people who believe in God and dupe people. But in this case, at least Whitney got caught, pleaded guilty, and won’t be able to defraud people by using God as a recruiting tool.
(Screenshot via YouTube)