by Beth Connolly on April 20, 2012
In a Ponzi Scheme that brings to mind Ephren Taylor’s, Gregory Thompson, San Antonio businessman, raised $100 million from 140 investors from 2003-2005, some of them members of the Wayside Chapel Evangelical Free Church.
One investor, Tom Barrett, who lost his life savings in the scheme, recalls eating breakfast with Thompson: “On that morning I dined with evil,” Barrett wrote in a letter to prosecutors. “At that time I did not know that evil could appear so calm, gracious, and genteel while destroying you.”
Here’s more from My San Antonio:
Prosecutor Thomas McHugh described the scheme as an “affinity fraud,” an investment swindle where the con artist targets members of a religious or ethnic group. Many of those turn out to be Ponzi schemes, in which early investors are paid with money from later participants.
A July 10 hearing has been set to determine how much Thompson should be ordered to pay in restitution. He remains free on a personal recognizance bond.
“I am a broken man, and it hurts me deeply,” Thompson told U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez before the sentencing. “My heart goes out to all of those who have lost money. I take full responsibility.”
McHugh agreed to seek no more than an eight-year prison sentence for Thompson, rather than the 14 to 171/2 years recommended by federal sentencing guidelines. Thompson’s lawyer, Michael Gibson, argued for a much lighter sentence than eight years.
“In his heart, he is a good man,” Gibson said. “He just didn’t do the responsible thing.”
Rodriguez wasn’t swayed, noting the havoc the scheme has had on Thompson’s victims.
Thompson acted as a “sub-promoter” for Travis E. Correll, who was a Southeastern Conference basketball official before resigning in 2005.
Correll is serving a nine-year prison sentence in South Dakota. He also must pay $29 million.
Thompson used investor funds to pay personal expenses, including paying off the mortgage on the office building once occupied by TNT Office Supply, his now-defunct company.
He already turned over $1.2 million to authorities, essentially “everything he has,” Gibson said.