A federal judge on Monday expressed frustration with Baptist preacher Archie Evans’ ongoing attempts to delay his fate in a Ponzi scheme case, scheduling a sentencing hearing for July 9 despite protests from Evans that he doesn’t feel well enough to make it to court.
“The court has given him more than sufficient time to prepare in light of his alleged illness earlier this year,” Judge Bryan Harwell said in an order denying Evans’ latest attempt to delay his sentencing. “The matter will not be delayed further.”
Evans had asked that his sentencing date be delayed indefinitely due to an unspecified illness. Harwell, however, called the request “a further attempt to simply delay his sentencing proceeding,” adding that the case “is the oldest on the court’s docket and needs to proceed.”
Evans was indicted nearly two years ago and pleaded guilty in January 2013 to two felony charges related to the Ponzi scheme, in which Tilly Swamp Baptist Church parishioners and others lost $2.5 million they invested with Evans’ Gold & Silver LLC.
A month after pleading guilty, Evans tried to rescind his plea by claiming he was pressured to make a deal with prosecutors that he didn’t fully understand. That set in motion months of delays in which Evans fired his lawyer and then fired the public defender that was appointed for him. Ultimately, Evans said he wanted to go ahead with the guilty plea while representing himself.
Then, in March, Evans said in court documents that he “has been mentally incapacitated the last six weeks due to an illness and he needs more time to prepare for a sentencing hearing.” Evans also accused the probation officer in charge of compiling his pre-sentence report of being “totally biased” against him.
On June 24, Evans filed another request to delay his sentencing hearing due to unspecified medical problems and an upcoming doctor’s appointment.
“The court has been patient and considerate of any alleged health problems,” Harwell said in his order, adding that Evans “has not provided sufficient proof — medical or otherwise — that he is physically unable to proceed with a sentencing hearing.”
Evans will be sentenced on one charge of mail fraud and one charge of structuring financial transactions to evade the reporting requirements banks must follow for deposits exceeding $10,000. The two felony charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
Evans has been free on a $25,000 unsecured bond since his arraignment in August 2012.
An indictment in the case states that Evans convinced church members to invest in 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 some of 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.
In addition to his work as a pastor, Evans in 2008 formed a pair of nonprofit agencies called Pale Productions and Pale Ministries, according to S.C. Secretary of State records. Evans, through Pale Productions, published the book “Nature’s Pairs: The Demise of Homosexuality,” in which he purported to outline “nature’s indisputable evidence against homosexuality.”
Evans previously told court officials that he “is continually working to produce Christian books as a means of restitution for his partners,” but his efforts have been thwarted because “the feds are continually working to paint Evans as a madman, thereby destroying all hopes of restitution.”
Contact DAVID WREN at 626-0281 or via twitter at @David_Wren_