OC Pastor Agrees to Plead Guilty in $33 Million Scam
A Westminster based church pastor has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge involving a church based investment scam that took more than $33 million. Kent Whitney, of Newport Beach, agreed to plead guilty to two charges of mail fraud and filing a false income tax return.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in a press release, Whitney’s plea agreement provides that between 2014 until 2019, Whitney engaged in a scheme to defraud investors through the Church of Healthy Self (“CHS”), a non-profit corporation. At Whitney’s direction, CHS representatives made false or misleading claims to investors, including: guaranteeing an annual rate of return of 12 percent; no risk because it was federally insured; and traders used by CHS had not lost money in 15 years. In reality, very little money went into any trading accounts.
According to court documents, Whitney failed to report over $452,872 in income to the IRS. The resulting tax loss was at least $130,808, his plea agreement states. Whitney faces up to 33 years in federal prison when he is formally sentenced by U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton.