Former lawmaker, family all sentenced in Ponzi scheme

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A former Tennessee lawmaker and three members of his family have all been sentenced for their roles in a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme promoted on Christian media and centered on buying and selling gold and silver coins.

In May, a jury found Larry Bates; his two sons, Chuck and Robert Bates; and Robert’s wife, Kinsey Bates, guilty on mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy charges after they took advantage of more than 360 people.

For nearly a decade, the four held conferences and ran various ads through Christian television and radio programs across the country depicting an upcoming economic collapse. They urged the public to invest in gold and silver coins.

When the victims went to pick up their product, prosecutors said they were put off by the defendants. They allegedly made up numerous excuses including that the U.S. mint was shut down, the gold and silver were scarce and the coins themselves were being shipped from Europe.

In the end, more than $87 million was sent to First American Monetary Consultants. Approximately $21 million of that was sent directly to the family.

At trial, prosecutors said the four had numerous orders that were not filled worth an estimated $26 million.

On Wednesday, Kinsey Bates was sentenced to 63 months in prison and three years supervised release. Her husband, Robert, was sentenced to 151 months and three years supervised release. Between the two of them, they will have to pay back nearly $30 million.

Larry Bates was sentenced to 262 months, three years supervised release and told to pay $21 million.

Chuck Bates was sentenced to 151 months and three years supervised release. He will have to pay back $19 million.