Guilty Plea Expected in Amish Case

The New York Times on March 13, 2012 released the following:

“By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CLEVELAND — An Ohio man has agreed to plead guilty to defrauding fellow Amish in 29 states out of nearly $17 million, the government said Tuesday.

The lawyer for Monroe L. Beachy, 77, owner of A&M Investments in Sugarcreek, Ohio, filed a recent notice informing the federal court of Mr. Beachy’s “intention to plead guilty as charged,” and a spokesman with the United States attorney’s office, Mike Tobin, confirmed the pending guilty plea.

Judge Benita Y. Pearson of Federal District Court in Youngstown, Ohio, has changed Thursday’s pretrial hearing to a change of plea hearing.

Mr. Beachy declined to comment when asked Tuesday whether he had struck a plea bargain or why he was changing his plea. His lawyer did not return a message seeking comment.

Mr. Tobin said the United States attorney’s office had no immediate comment on the guilty plea. Prosecutors typically avoid any comment that might disrupt a defendant’s pending agreement to plead guilty.

The indictment charging Mr. Beachy with one count of mail fraud says he promised investors safe securities but moved money to riskier investments. Mail fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

According to the indictment, nearly 2,700 people and entities, including an Amish community loan fund, lost about $16.8 million since 2006.

Mr. Beachy’s firm has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The investments directed by Mr. Beachy “were not the ‘safe’ investments as reported to his clients or investors,” the indictment said.

In announcing the indictment last fall, Steven M. Dettelbach, a United States attorney in Ohio, said the case highlighted the risks of affinity fraud involving trust in investors from a group with similar ethnic, religious or personal backgrounds.

Mr. Dettelbach stopped short of saying whether Mr. Beachy had personally profited or just made bad investments, but he said that Mr. Beachy had made a living for years offering investor services to the Amish.

A&M Investments filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2010, listing about $33 million in liabilities and nearly $18 million in assets.

In a court appearance in October, Mr. Beachy tried to plead no contest on religious grounds. He did not elaborate on the religious grounds, and his lawyer advised against the move.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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