A San Bernardino County man who bilked hundreds of Christians in a $26-million-plus investment scheme promising a 4,000% return on their money was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison and ordered to repay his victims.
U.S. District Judge Robert Timlin handed down the sentence Monday against John C. Jeffers in a Riverside courtroom after victims testified they lost everything in the swindle.
Among them were Isiah and Linda Toussaint, operators of the outreach group Restorer of Life Ministry, who told Timlin that they lost their house, car and dream of operating a homeless shelter after giving $100,000 to Jeffers.
"How are we going to survive without the money?" asked Isiah Toussaint.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Jeremy D. Matz said that Jeffers spent every dime he got and that the Toussaint's money was gone in six days. Court documents showed $12,000 of it was spent at a posh London hotel where Jeffers stayed.
Jeffers, 64, of Mentone, was the second man to plead guilty to running the "high-yield investment program" out of his Redlands-based J.C. Jeffers & Co. Prosecutors said Jeffers masterminded a scheme targeting investors nationwide and as far away as Finland.
Investigators said that Jeffers told victims his company placed funds with prestigious foreign banks in high-yield investment programs and that he promised 4,000% returns on money used in trading bank-issued notes.
Jeffers, who was originally charged in a 46-count indictment, pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering. He claimed he was an associate minister in an evangelical church and targeted Christians and the elderly, Matz said.
John Minderhout, 56, of Yucaipa worked at J.C. Jeffers and was sentenced in November to more than four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to three counts of wire fraud.