Fraud Suspect Put on ‘Leash’ Pending Trial

An Inland Empire man accused of masterminding an investment scam that swindled evangelical Christians out of at least $160 million has been released by a Dallas judge on an “electronic leash” pending trial, authorities said Monday.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn set bail terms Friday for Gregory Setser of Rancho Cucamonga, requiring that he remain within 10 miles of a home he owns in Canton, Texas, and that his mother, Eva Setser Smith, pledge her mobile home in Montclair as security.

Setser, 47, was required to surrender his passport and to wear a device that allows satellite tracking of his location, according to a court clerk.

Setser’s attorney didn’t return telephone calls. His mother insisted that her son would be exonerated — along with his wife, Cynthia Setser; his daughter-in-law, Charnelle Setser; and his sister, Deborah Setser. These relatives, also charged with criminal fraud, previously were released on bail. All four have pleaded not guilty.

“This is all just a bunch of lies and a bunch of garbage. Nobody’s going to lose their money and everybody’s going to get paid,” Eva Setser Smith said. “Satan’s just using the FBI to try to destroy us, and he’s not going to win.”

The Setser family spent decades testifying to Christian groups about how the mother, after 15 years of excruciating back pain, was cured in 1974 with the help of a faith-healing pastor from Pomona. But according to the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which shut down Setser’s Ontario-based IPIC International Inc. in November, Setser in recent years used his association with evangelical Christians to promote an investment fraud.

The money supposedly financed lucrative trading in products including bottled water and iron garden knickknacks, but most of it was used to pay phony profits to early investors and to fund a luxurious lifestyle, federal authorities alleged. They said the Setsers spent $2.3 million on a yacht, $1.1 million on a helicopter and $787,000 to start a record company for Greg Setser’s daughter, Amy.

A prosecution source said the amount invested could exceed $200 million and losses were in the “tens of millions of dollars” after deducting phony profits investors received.

Cynthia Setser maintains she had no knowledge of any fraud, according to her lawyer, David Pire, who said “her husband was the person running the show.”

Dennis L. Roossien Jr., a court-appointed receiver, said in a report that the Setsers had several assets in Panama, including a 108-acre coffee plantation, a warehouse filled with 7 million Brazilian condoms and 750,000 liter bottles of Midwestern corn liquor.

Trial is set for Feb. 23 but is expected to be postponed.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Los Angeles Times, USA
Feb. 10, 2004
E. Scott Reckard, Times Staff Writer

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday February 11, 2004.
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