WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) – A Palm Beach Church and its pastors caught up in a Ponzi scheme are refusing to turn over near $2 million that federal regulators say belongs to people caught up in the scam.
A federal judge temporarily froze the accounts of Winners Church and pastors Fred and Whitney Shipman. The church leaders are fighting efforts to allow $1.7 million to be returned to hundreds of people who were lured into a diamond and bitcoin investment fraud.
Bishop Fred Shipman told the judge Thursday that returning the money would have a serious “ripple effect.”
Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer Amie Berlin isn’t claiming the church or pastors were involved in the scheme orchestrated by a former church director.
The judge gave both sides until June 3rd to file papers explaining their positions.
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