Executives at L.A.-based church resign after losses in alleged investment scams

LOS ANGELES – The president and treasurer of a Pentecostal church resigned following the loss of $14 million in two allegedly fraudulent investment schemes.

Paul Risser and the treasurer, Brent Morgan, stepped down last week, said Ron Williams, spokesman for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

The Los Angeles-based church, founded in 1918 by evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, which claims more than 3 million members worldwide. It earned about $250 million when it sold radio station KFSG-FM in 2000. Risser invested $14 million of that money without approval from the church board, Williams said Wednesday.

The money went to Financial Advisory Consultants, Inc. of Lake Forest and Ontario-based IPIC International, he said.

Financial Advisory was operated by James Paul Lewis, who is accused of bilking thousands of investors of more than $200 million by promising returns of up to 40 percent.

He has pleaded innocent to mail fraud and money laundering charges and is being held without bail in Santa Ana.

Gregory Earl Setser, who operated IPIC International, is accused of bilking Christian ministries out of $160 million. Setser, of Rancho Cucamonga, is free while awaiting trial in Texas on charges of securities fraud and money laundering. He has pleaded innocent.

Williams said there was no evidence that Risser, a minister for more than 40 years and the church’s top executive since 1998, intended to personally benefit from the investments.

Vice President Jared Roth will serve as interim president and finance director Jeffrey Bird will act as chief financial officer and treasurer, Williams said.

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