Whitfield, David v. U.S.

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Whitfield and Hall were members of the executive board of the Greater Ministries International Church. Petitioner Hall was the president, pastor, and an elder. And petitioner Whitfield was the treasurer, financial advisor, and also an elder. These petitioners were convicted of federal conspiracy and fraud charges including mail fraud, wire fraud, transportation of property taken by fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.1

The Greater Ministries leaders created a program called the "Double Your Money Program." This allowed investors to "gift" money in exchange for a return that doubled their contribution. The Greater Ministries claimed that the profits to finance these doublings were generated through gold and diamond mining, offshore commodities, and high interest rates from overseas banks. Most of these claims were false. Greater Ministries elders ended up keeping all the investment money and even encouraged existing investors to "re-gift." The operation finally collapsed in the January of 1999 and many investors filed claims for their losses.

However, Greater Ministries only had insufficient assets. "During defense testimony, witnesses contended that the money they sent to Greater Ministries was purely a gift, as stated on the program's forms, and that they did not expect any return beyond God's blessing. But prosecutors countered with a long list of other gifters who swore that they had been promised a doubling of their money."2

Hall and Whitfield are separately pleading their issues to the Supreme Court for a review on the overt act requirement. In order to prove that this is, in fact, a money laundering conspiracy, the government must provide enough evidence that this was an overt act. Therefore, the Supreme Court has accepted to review each case to resolve the five-three circuit court split.3

1 http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2003/0responses/2003-1293.resp.html

2 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/006/11.18.html

3 Medill School of Journalism - On the Docket: Whitefield, David v.