Securities fraud can take many forms from the questionable to the egregious. One of the latter types of cases happened in our own backyard. 

In 2016, a McKinney pastor was charged with bilking Texans out of more than $23 million. Many of them were elderly, and in a number of the cases, he took whole life savings. 

The Scheme

Fifty-nine-year-old Timothy Booth was a pastor at Way of Grace Church when he launched an investment company that guaranteed 9 percent return on investment. The company was supposedly backed by an $85 million patent that turned out to be worthless.

By the time anyone was the wiser, Booth and his wife had spent much of the money on lavish trips, expensive car rentals, and a variety of other frivolous purchases. Booth was sentenced to 68 years in prison earlier this year, according to the Dallas News.

A Life Sentence for Securities Fraud?

In the above case, yes. What Booth received was essentially a life sentence. At 59, he’ll probably never see the light-of-day. That’s true even if he enjoys good health or an early release. But given the nature of this particular crime, it’s easy to see how the court arrived at the conclusion that it did. 

Securities fraud can ruin livelihoods for the victims. It also can ruin livelihoods for those accused of it. Booth’s guilt was pretty clear, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes criminal charges of securities fraud are brought where none exist, or where improprieties are at best negligence instead of fraudulent. 

Over the years, outcomes have included no-fault civil settlements, dismissal of charges, no charges being filed at all, probation, or minor civil damages. The lesson in this is clear: even though there was enough evidence in many of these cases to raise eyebrows or proceed with investigations, the evidence wasn’t there to convict or even indict. 

Charged Does Not Mean Guilty

To avoid the worst, you’ve got to seek help from the best. A solid criminal defense attorney will know the ins and outs of the financial law. Where evidence lacks clarity, he or she will be able to create the strongest possible legal strategies to either avoid charges or lessen damages. 

For over 25 years, John Teakell has worked on both sides of the courtroom, particularly in cases of financial and white-collar criminal defense. If he can help you through your case, drop by the office or contact him online today.

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]