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    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

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    Release No. 08-149

    November 19, 2008


    An Inland Empire pastor has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for his role in an investment scam that led more than 500 victims to lose over $28 million after being told they could make money in coal mines and a gold transaction.

    Robert Jennings, 59, of Perris, was sentenced Monday afternoon by United States District Judge Percy Anderson in Los Angeles.

    A second man involved in the scheme, Arthur Simburg,  64, of Portland, Oregon (formerly of Los Angeles), was sentenced on Monday to nine years in federal prison.

    Judge Anderson described the defendants as “economic predators” and ordered them to pay $28 million in restitution. While the scheme collected more than $32 million, some of the money was returned to investors as part of the Ponzi scheme.

    A third defendant involved in the plot, Henry Jones, 53, a record company executive, formerly of Marina Del Rey, is expected to be sentenced in early 2009. Jones has been incarcerated since being extradited from Hong Kong last December.

    The three men involved in the scheme were convicted of bilking more than 500 investors out of more than $32 million. Jennings was found guilty in July following a three-week jury trial. The evidence at trial showed that Jones, Simburg and Jennings solicited investors for a coal mine venture and an alleged international gold transaction that purportedly involved the sale of 20,000 tons of gold between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. They duped investors largely through nightly conference calls in which investors were promised huge rates of return on their investments – as much as 300 percent within 60 days. Most of the conference calls included group prayer, during which investors were told that the gold transaction was “divinely inspired” and that it was God’s will for it to come to fruition.

    Despite the promises of profitable investments, Jones spent more than $21 million of the victims’ money on his own extravagant personal expenses and to fund his Marina Del Rey-based music business. Jones used the victims’ money to, among other things, purchase a house in Marina Del Rey, a condominium in Culver City, a Ferrari Spider and a Porsche Cayenne. Simburg and Jennings also used victims’ money to support themselves.

    This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS - Criminal Investigation.


    Release No. 08-149
    Return to the 2008 Press Release Index