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Press Release

Members of religious-based company charged in elder fraud scheme against WWII veteran

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON – Five individuals are now in custody following allegations they tricked an elderly man in his 90s out of over $300,000 in retirement funds, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Authorities arrested Lenel Hopkins, 52, Antoinette Monique Hopkins, 42, Alichia Webster, 60, Neil John Halvorson, 65, and Victor Evans Jr., 70. The arrests occurred in Alabama and Florida where they will first appear before their arraignments in Houston. 

All five individuals as well as their company - Ternion Group International LLC aka Ternion Training and Education Center Corporation - are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud. 

The indictment alleges Ternion self-identified as a “Christian” company that claimed to be an international investment group performing construction projects and job training for believers. They promised investors high monetary returns and ownership in local development projects in exchange for large investment deposits into Ternion, according to the charges.

Potential investors would allegedly become “hubs” associated with Ternion which would have a Ternion name and the investor’s address as its physical location. According to the indictment, investors would make monetary payments and were supposed to receive millions of dollars in return. The charges allege they actually never received anything in exchange for their payments.

As part of the indictment, Ternion owners convinced a then 92-year-old World War II veteran to form a hub, telling him he would receive $13 million in return if he invested $300,000. The money was supposedly to be used to build a vocational school and to purchase 100 homes, according to the allegations.

The charges allege Evans actually drew a salary from the money the victim transferred from his retirement account. 

In furtherance of the scheme, Halvorson also allegedly caused the victim to enter into a new will which gave Evans successor rights and power of attorney over the victim’s property (including his hub), bank accounts and contracts as well as a medical power of attorney he used to execute a do-not-resuscitate form for the victim.  

The victim has not received any monies in return for the $300,000 he invested nor heard from anyone from Ternion since 2020, according to the charges. The indictment also alleges the location they had told the victim would be the site of the project is privately owned and not for sale.   

If convicted, each faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine for each count.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Laurence Goldman is prosecuting the case.

The case is brought as part of the Elder Justice Initiative. Its goal is to support and coordinate the Department of Justice’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s older adults.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Updated May 15, 2024

Elder Justice