Million Dollar Financial Fraud involving Watsonville Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses

JW Leaks has published court documents relating to the million dollar financial fraud involving Rodney Hatfield and the Watsonville Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in California, USA.

These court documents include the sealed 2009 Indictment, Rodney Hatfield’s plea bargain dated January 30, 2013, and the Criminal Minutes Sentencing Order summary dated September 16, 2013. Hatfield was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison in connection with his role in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

In pleading guilty on January 30, 2013, Hatfield admitted that he conspired with his co-defendant to obtain money from investors by means of materially false representations about the value of their investment accounts. Hatfield admitted that he defrauded members of his own Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Watsonville, California. As part of the conspiracy, he solicited millions of dollars in investment money from his fellow congregants and others to invest in Landmark Trading Company, LLC (“Landmark”), a company he and his co-defendant had set up as a holding company for the purpose of trading in foreign currency exchange.

Initially, Landmark did engage in some legitimate currency trades on behalf of its investors; however, the company quickly began to run a negative return on its trading activity. Rather than accurately report this negative trading activity to investors, Hatfield and his co-defendant distributed false reports to investors in e-mails that their trading accounts were profitable and increasing in value. While some investors did receive all or most of their principal back, Hatfield admitted his actions resulted in a net loss to investors of more than $1 million.

In his Plea Bargain, Hatfield stated:

“I agree that I am guilty of the offence to what I am pleading guilty, and I agree that the following facts are true: From January 2004 through December 23, 2008 . . . I defrauded members of my own Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Watsonville, California. With the assistance of Myers I solicited my fellow congregants and others.”

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Edward J. Davila, United States District Court Judge, following a guilty plea on the first count of the indictment, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. Judge Davila also sentenced the defendant to three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment. Judge Davila did not impose a fine in light of the defendant’s financial circumstances. However, Judge Davila set a hearing for November 8, 2013, to determine the amount of restitution as well as set a reporting date for Hatfield to begin serving his sentence.



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