Pastor Jim Staley made ThinkAdvisor‘s list of 12 worst financial Advisors in America. In 2015 Staley was sentenced to 7 years of prison for bilking 16 elderly investors out of $3.4 million in order to get 20% in commission for himself.
According to victim statements, Staley presented his investment product as being “risk free” with “a guarantee of 40 percent return,” despite the product type having made Missouri’s List of Top 10 Threats to Investors 2007 a year earlier (See number 8 and 10). In other words, it was widely known to be one of the riskiest type of investment products on the market. Hence, it would be extremely naive to believe he acted without criminal intent to defraud.
On April 30, 2015, Jim Staley plead guilty before a Federal judge to 4 counts of wire fraud and to willfully and knowingly engaging in an investment scheme between 2008 and 2010. Staley admits that he carried out this scheme through a number of materially false and fraudulent statements to induce potential investors. He also admitted that he continued to sell the product AFTER the Missouri cease and desist and that he was fully aware that his clients would lose all the money they had invested.
As featured in the audio player below, Staley was recently mentioned on NewsRadio 1120 KMOX – on the Mutual Fund Show segment “Worst Investors of 2015.” (Skip ahead to the 3:55 mark for Jim Staley’s mention)
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dianna Collins said that Staley’s victims were elderly, and some invested because he was a “nice religious man” who referred to at least several by endearing terms such as “Grandma.”
“Seniors tend to be more trusting and give people the benefit of the doubt, particularly people who hold themselves out as religious leaders,” Collins said.
According to the Wayback archives, Staley began posting teachings on the Passion for Truth website in 2004. The Passion for Truth Website states that Staley started the Passion for Truth bible study in his basement in 2007. And he began filming his teachings in 2008 and 2009 while the investment scheme was taking place. In April 2008 Staley incorporated Passion for Truth Ministries as a 501c3, just a few short months after he formed Wealth Financial and participated in the B&B securities scheme.
During Staley’s sentencing, victim N.S. said Jim Staley had been characterized by the defense as a good Christian and good family man, “but he is neither.” She said that Staley had asked her to lie to the FBI to cover up his misdeeds, but she refused. She lost over $600,000 and has to date received only $407 in restitution.
Victim C.B. said her parents lost $325,000, which was their entire life savings and now cannot provide for themselves, cannot provide for their food, housing, or their medical expenses. They are on food stamps and Medicaid.
Victim W.F. talked about the fact that Jim Staley targeted seniors, with devastating impact, that his actions were no accident, but were calculated to prey upon the elderly.
Another victim talked about that she had recently been widowed when Staley approached her and told her he was “there to help.” She now suffers from anxiety issues and total lack of trust of other people.
The judge had read one letter which said that Jim Staley had sold this “investment” to an elderly man who had diminished mental capacity due to the onset of dementia. The judge read repeatedly that the seniors now could not care for themselves and are on food stamps and Medicaid.
All the speakers spoke of the devastating effect of losing their life savings, the huge taxes they were assessed for cashing in annuities and IRAs before they were supposed to, and said that Staley never mentioned what they would be losing by doing so.
Prosecutor Dianna Collins said that she had met with each and every victim and had heard over and over how they met Jim, how they trusted him, how they were manipulated and betrayed by him, and he stole from them their life savings. She said the main question they asked her was always, “When am I going to get my money back?” In answer, she clearly stated to them that she was sorry to tell them , but they were probably NEVER going to get their money back. She said she believes that Jim has never had and will never have any interest in restitution. She referenced the restitution order of 2011, which was for repayment of $2.9 MILLION and announced that to date, only $1,950 had been paid in restitution, with only $50 being paid in 2015.
She stated that Jim Staley has an income from PFT of $10K per month, but that he has set up mechanisms so that he can use the money but it is never officially his, just so he will not have to pay restitution. She also mentioned that PFT pays the rent on his (1.5 million dollar) house.
In an online forum, a Christian watch-dog group has pointed out that the Missouri Business Filing website no longer list Passion for Truth being registered in Jim Staley’s name. The term was cancelled, and in 2010 it was registered under a Totra, Matthew C.
A second “Passion for Truth Fellowship-Castle Rock” was registered in 2013 under Donn H. Herring, a lawyer located in the St.Louis area.
Could this have something to do with what US Attorney Collins mentioned about the “mechanisms” Staley put in place so that he doesn’t have to pay restitution, all the while living in a disgustingly expensive 1.5 Million dollar church parsonage?
Staley was arrested on October 2, 2015, eighteen days before his incarceration date. He is currently located at USP Marion as inmate #41812-044. It is rumored that he was detained several weeks early because he became a flight risk on account of the bizarre letter he sent government officials in which he claimed that he is “outside the jurisdiction of the Federal Government” and tried to challenge the constitutionality of the fraud laws that put him in prison in the first place.
Judge Webber responded by saying “it appears, in challenging the constitutionality of various criminal statutes, Defendant is arguing the Court does not have jurisdiction over him because he is claiming to be a sovereign citizen. This argument has been routinely rejected by courts as meritless.”
Jim’s wife has also been making negative statements about the government on her personal Facebook page. On January 4th, 2016 at 2:36pm Cheryl Staley wrote:
“Welcome to the system” as the inmates say. I would say I know just a little bit about this “justice system” we think we’re in. It’s actually void of a lot of justice, unfortunately. Tyranny does exist in the “good ol’ USA”…”
This is a complete 180° from what what was said on an August 2nd, 2015 PFT live stream:
“I understand he’s a very compassionate, very understanding judge” Jim Staley said of the Hon. Richard E. Webber Senior US District Judge…
If Judge Webber is “very compassionate” and “very understanding” as Jim stated before his sentencing hearing, don’t you think he was fairly sentenced based on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines? Wouldn’t Judge Webber have made an impartial decision based on the evidence presented?
According to Staley and his band of devout followers, Jim is the victim of an overzealous Government. Despite having plead guilty in 2015, Staley claims he had no criminal intent to defraud, but was in the wrong place at the wrong time, operating in good faith that the company he was representing was acting in full compliance and full knowledge of the law. But if you take time to read the notarized public court documents, you will see how these statements couldn’t be further from the truth. It doesn’t take years of expert financial experience to understand that Jim was peddling a shady product.
“We’ve seen too many examples of brokers and investment advisers looking out for their own best interest and not their clients’.” said Robin Carnahan, former Missouri Secretary of State in response to Staley’s investment scheme.
A few weeks ago Cheryl Staley announced that they will be creating an online blog for Jim. According to our sources this blog will serve two purposes; To chronicle his prison experiences and to share his side of the story regarding the fraud case.
Staley is likely banking on the fact that many will simply give him the benefit of the doubt and fail to read the details for themselves. The court documents paint an entirely different picture from what Jim has been painting, much of which we have listed on this site.
What’s next? DVD teachings from prison?