Ponzi scheme preacher seeks delay in sentencing for fraud, structuring charges involving Myrtle Beach area church members

dwren@thesunnews.comMarch 27, 2014 

Archie Evans – the former Baptist preacher who admitted to heading a Ponzi scheme that cost church members $2.5 million – has asked for an indefinite delay to his sentencing hearing in federal court, a move prosecutors quickly moved to block this week.

Evans, in a court filing Monday, said he has been “mentally incapacitated” due to an illness that has prevented him from reviewing and filing a response to a pre-sentence report in his criminal fraud case. Evans said he tried to overcome the illness without medical help “because I have no extra money,” but finally was hospitalized. Evans said he now must spend extra hours working to pay off his hospital bill, and that will continue to prevent him from reviewing the report and preparing for his sentencing hearing.

“Having to work these extra hours, and having to prepare as best I can for a sentence hearing I know nothing about will consume every hour I have for multiple months at a minimum,” Evans said in the court document.

Evans did not say when he thought he might be able to prepare himself for the sentencing hearing, but Bill Day – the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case – filed an objection to the request on Wednesday.

Evans “has had ample time to prepare for his sentencing,” Day said in a court filing, adding that Evans’ “motion for an indefinite continuance should be denied.”

No hearing has been scheduled to hear Evans’ request.

Evans was indicted in July 2012 on 14 felony charges, including mail fraud, money laundering and structuring financial transactions to evade federal bank reporting requirements. Evans pleaded guilty to two of the charges in a January 2013 plea agreement. His sentencing initially was delayed when Evans tried to withdraw his guilty plea, saying he was pressured by his lawyer to make a deal with prosecutors that he didn’t fully understand. Evans later abandoned his attempt to withdraw the guilty plea.

A pre-sentence report was prepared in Evans’ case a year ago, and Evans has filed numerous objections since then that have resulted in revisions to the report in November and January. A final report was sent to Evans for his review last month.

According to the indictment in the case, Evans convinced members of Tilly Swamp Baptist Church in Conway to invest in his company – Gold & Silver LLC – with the promise that investors would receive quarterly interest payments of between 10 percent and 12 percent. Evans either spent the money or lost it on bad investments, but prepared false investment statements to make it appear as if church members were earning a high rate of interest on their money.

The false statements also were used to encourage others to invest in the scheme, according to the indictment, and Evans used money from the new investors to make interest payments to the previous investors. Evans also used the new investors’ money for his own personal expenses, court documents show.

The scheme started in 2004, according to the indictment, and Evans had spent all of the money invested with him by October 2011. At the time of his indictment, court records show, federal agents seized just $1,919.86 that was left in Evans’ bank accounts.

Contact DAVID WREN at 626-0281.

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