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Press Release

Bates Family Sentenced to 627 Months Imprisonment for Gold and Silver Ponzi Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Tennessee

Memphis, TN – Bates family members have been sentenced for their roles in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded victims of more than twenty-one million dollars. Lawrence J. Laurenzi, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the sentences today.

In May 2017, a federal jury found Larry Bates; his two sons, Chuck and Robert Bates; and Kinsey Bates, the wife of Robert Bates, guilty on all counts set forth in a federal indictment that charged mail and wire fraud and conspiracy. The charges rose out of the defendants running a decade long Ponzi scheme in the buying and selling of gold and silver coins. The proof at trial showed that the defendants were able to accomplish the fraud through First American Monetary Consultants, a Colorado corporation, which had offices in Memphis, Tennessee and Ft. Collins, Colorado. The proof showed that more than three hundred and sixty victims lost more than twenty-one million dollars. The scheme continued from as early as 2002 through October of 2013.

"Today, justice has finally been served to members of the Bates Family as a result of their decade long Ponzi scheme. Their corruption ploy -- which devastated and destroyed the lives of many hard-working individuals -- ended today. I hope this will serve as a clear --cut message that the United States Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to expose and bring to justice people responsible for such acts of greed and corruption." said Larry Laurenzi, Acting United States Attorney, Western District of Tennessee.

At trial, the proof showed that the defendants promoted their business through a variety of Christian television and radio programs, including the Jim Baker Show and Jewish Voice. Larry Bates, a self-proclaimed doctor in economics, held conferences across the United States on the upcoming economic collapse and the need to invest in precious metals. Between 2007 and 2013, customers gave more than eighty-seven million dollars

to First American Monetary Consultants for the purpose of buying precious metals. During this same period, the proof showed the defendants diverted customers’ monies that were to be used to purchase their precious metals to the defendants own use and benefit. By 2009, testimony at trial showed that the company had more than twenty-six million dollars in unfilled customer orders.

The proof showed that the defendants used the customers’ money for a variety of purposes other than purchase of customers’ metals. Larry Bates diverted more than four million dollars to the creation of International Radio Network, a Christian radio network. Other monies were diverted to trading in commodities and the building of a ten-thousand square foot house on three hundred acres in Middleton, Tennessee. Still other customers’ monies were used to fulfill prior orders, which had not been fulfilled.

At trial, the evidence showed that Larry, Chuck and Robert Bates were sales people in the Memphis office and were responsible for taking in victim’s monies. More than forty-five witnesses testified about losing money to Larry Bates and First American Monetary Consultants. The victims, who lived all across the United States, testified that their money was to be used to purchase precious metals that they never received. For example, Judith Ponder, from Kerrville, Texas testified that she and her mother gave Larry Bates more than $1.8 million dollars to purchase precious metals and received little in return. Barbara Santiago, from Washington State, testified that she and her paraplegic son met Larry Bates at one of his conferences in Washington State. Ms. Santiago testified that she later invested more than two hundred and sixty-six thousand dollars from her son’s insurance settlement that was to be used for her son’s care. Ms. Santiago, likewise, received little of her purchase. And, Charles Grimsley, a pastor for the Veteran’s Administration in Mesa, Colorado, testified that he and his wife gave FAMC more than two hundred thousand dollars of their retirement money and received nothing in return.

The proof showed that many of the victims attempted to take possession of their gold and silver coins, only to be put off by the defendants for a variety of reasons. The excuses for the delays included that the gold and silver coins were scarce, the coins were coming from Europe, and the U.S. mint was shut down. In October 2013, a receiver was appointed to take over the affairs of First American Monetary Consultants. The receiver found that the company had few assets and was unable to compensate the hundreds of victims who had given money to Larry Bates and First American Consultants.

On Tuesday, September 5, 2017, U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman sentenced both father, and son, Charles Larry Bates and Charles "Chuck" Bates. Charles Larry Bates was sentenced to 262 months’ imprisonment and 3 years’ supervised release to begin after incarceration. He was ordered to pay $21,210,345.39 in restitution and a mandatory special assessment of $4,600. Larry Bates was convicted on all 46 counts in the indictment.

Chuck Bates was sentenced to 151 months’ imprisonment and 3 years supervised release. He was ordered to pay $19,649,731.70 to victims, along with a special assessment of $1,700. Chuck Bates was found guilty of 16 counts of mail and wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy.

On Wednesday, September 6, 2017, U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman sentenced Robert Bates and his wife, Kinsey Brown Bates. Robert Bates was convicted on one count of conspiracy and eight counts of mail and wire fraud. Robert Bates received a sentence of 151 months which he will serve consecutively to another criminal sentence, as well as three years supervised release. He was ordered to pay $19,659,911 in restitution, along with a mandatory special assessment of $900. Kinsey Brown Bates was sentenced to 63 months’ imprisonment, $9,526,199.95 in restitution, 3 years supervised release and $300 mandatory special assessment.

Acting United States Attorney Lawrence J. Laurenzi and Assistant United States Attorney David Pritchard prosecuted the case. The United States Postal Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case.

Updated September 7, 2017