Convicted Ponzi-scheme preacher Archie Evans has been indicted on a firearm charge that could add another decade to the seven-year prison sentence he already is serving for stealing $3.7 million from parishioners and others through a phony investment opportunity.
Evans, 43, is accused of trying to sneak a loaded .38-caliber pistol into the federal courthouse in Florence on July 9, the morning he was to be sentenced on the fraud charges. Evans had the handgun hidden in a bag and told U.S. Marshals at the courthouse entrance that the bag did not need to be X-rayed because he was an attorney. The U.S. Marshals insisted on X-raying the bag, and discovered the gun.
Evans, who was arrested at the scene, was considered a felon in possession of a firearm because he previously pleaded guilty to a pair of charges related to the Ponzi scheme. A grand jury returned an indictment on the gun charge last week. Evans is scheduled to attend an arraignment hearing on the gun charge on Aug. 28 in Florence.
Following the gun incident, Evans was sentenced on the fraud charges. Evans, who had represented himself after firing two lawyers in two years, is appealing that sentence even though he pleaded guilty to the charges in January 2013. During the case, Evans unsuccessfully tried to rescind his guilty plea and repeatedly tried to delay his sentencing, claiming an illness kept him from preparing his defense.
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Prosecutors say Evans targeted members of Tilly Swamp Baptist Church, where he was the pastor, to invest in his 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 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 the $1,919.86 left in Evans’ bank accounts.
Evans also is an alleged unindicted co-conspirator in a case in which Conway contractor Marlon Weaver pleaded guilty to illegally hiding assets from an insurance company trying to collect on a $6 million bond related to a failed paving project.
Court documents allege Evans helped Weaver hide some of the money in his Gold & Silver company. Former state Rep. Thad Viers also is accused of helping Weaver hide assets from the insurance company. Weaver is awaiting sentencing; Viers is facing 14 felony charges. Viers’ arraignment also is scheduled for Aug. 28 in Florence.