- An 80-year-old Texas radio host received three life sentences on Monday for running a Ponzi scheme.
- William Neil “Doc” Gallagher amassed $US32 ($AU43) million in losses to his elderly clients.
- Gallagher advertised his scheme on Christian radio, in Christian books, and across churches.
A Texas radio host, known as the “Money Doctor,” was sentenced to three life sentences on Monday after pleading guilty to running an elaborate Ponzi scheme that defrauded several elderly listeners out of millions of dollars.
William Neil “Doc” Gallagher, 80, in August, pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the con, including securing the execution of a document by deception for an amount greater than $US200,000 ($AU269,219), theft of property more than $US300,000 ($AU403,829), and misapplication of fiduciary or property of financial institution of more than $US300,000 ($AU403,829).
In addition to the three life sentences, state District Judge Elizabeth Beach also sentenced Gallagher to another 10 years each for three additional charges, including one charge of forgery against the elderly, and two charges of exploitation of the elderly.
According to a statement from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Elder Financial Fraud team, Gallagher amassed $US32 ($AU43) million in losses to his elderly clients.
Prosecutors say Gallagher advertised his nearly 10-year scheme on Christian radio, using the tagline, “See you in church on Sunday,” as a ploy to convince elderly religious folk to invest with his “Gallagher Financial Group.”
Gallagher, through his “Gallagher Financial Group,” bilked elderly people out of their retirement savings, targeting middle-class people mostly in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, who were looking for a stable retirement funds, court records reviewed by The New York Times said.
Instead, Gallagher deposited his investors’ funds into a single account which he then used to pay out earlier investors.
Earlier this year, the US Securities and Exchange Comission said Gallagher exhausted “virtually all investor funds,” and used “significant portions” of the funds for personal and company expenses, as well as making Ponzi payments to his investors. In order to hide the fraud, Gallagher also created false account statements that displayed incorrect balances, according to the SEC.
“Doc Gallagher is one of the worst offenders I have seen,” said Lori Varnell, chief of the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Elder Financial Fraud team.
“He worked his way around churches preying on people who believed he was Christian,” Varnell said.
Gallagher promoted his business across Christian radio and in books like “Jesus Christ, Money Master,” the district attorney’s office said.
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, more than a dozen of Gallagher’s elderly victims testified against him, describing in detail how they lost anywhere from $US50,000 ($AU67,305) to $US600,000 ($AU807,657). Some had to sell their homes or take on part-time jobs as a result of the fraud, according to the district attorney’s office.
“I’m afraid my money is going to run out,” Judy Dewitt, one of the victims, said. “It’s a very scary thing.”
Dewitt and the other victims who testified asked Judge Beach to give Gallagher life in prison.
“I don’t trust anybody anymore, except for God and my family,” said another victim, Susan Pippi,
Gallagher has been in jail since he was arrested in March 2019 on similar charges filed in Dallas County. He pleaded guilty to those charges in 2020 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. In August 2019, he was indicted on the fraud charges in Tarrant County.
Gallagher’s Monday sentences are to be served concurrently.