CLEVELAND -- Federal prosecutors are accusing an Amish man of defrauding thousands of investors -- many of whom live in Ohio's Amish and Mennonite communities -- out of a combined $16.8 million, according to a grand jury indictment.
Monroe L. Beachy, of Sugarcreek, ran A & M Investments, which catered to Amish and Mennonites in the Holmes County area as well as others, prosecutors said.
In all, officials said, Beachy collected more than $33 million from investors over a 20-year period.
Prosecutors say Beachy gained their trust -- and money --over two decades by promising to invest in a mortgage-backed security that is guaranteed by the United States government.
According to charges, Beachy instead invested in funds that were not protected from losses and those investments lost a bundle -- nearly $17 million.
Beachy never told a soul, instead sending investors fake account balances, prosecutors said.
The Investigator Tom Meyer first reported on Beachy last August after he filed for bankruptcy protection after learning that the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating whether he defrauded investors.
A county commissioner told Channel 3 News last year that Beachy kept taking investments until the end.
"A lot of the people in the plain community invested money there because he was one of them," Paul Weaver, whose in-laws invested in the fund, said last year. "I wouldn't say (the return) was enormously high, but it was consistent. Everybody feels that trust has been breached."
The SEC eventually decided not to seek civil penalties against Beachy because he had no money.
In addition, Amish investors asked a judge to dismiss his bankruptcy case, saying the Amish Church wants to take responsibility for repaying investors.