California Man Claiming to be a Pastor to Plead Guilty to Organizing $33 Million Church Investment Scam

A man claiming to be a pastor in California will plead guilty to organizing an investment scam using the guise of a church to swindle over $33 million away from investors, primarily from Orange County’s Vietnamese community. He could face over two decades in prison. 

The Department of Justice announced last week that 38-year-old Kent Whitney of Newport Beach has agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of filing a false federal income tax return.

According to the plea agreement, Whitney will admit that he engaged in a scheme to defraud investors through an entity he founded called the Church for the Healthy Self and its investment program, CHS Trust. The scam lasted from September 2014 until April 2019.

The Church for the Healthy Self was launched by Whitney only three months after he was released from federal prison for organizing a previous commodities-driven investment scheme, according to court documents.

Even though the “church” is physically operated out of a strip mall in Westminster, California, CHS Trust is headquartered out of Dallas, Texas.

The church no longer has an active Facebook page or website. But Whitney’s LinkedIn profile claimed that Church for the Healthy Self supported over 20 charities and offered “programs in everything from Young Earth Creationism to Health and Wellness and managing your Personal Investments.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Whitney last March when it announced a bust of a $25 million Ponzi scheme that falsely promised high annual returns with minimal to no risk to investors.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith