COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Two ministers have been charged with money laundering and fraud, accused of taking more than $7 million from their followers in an investment scheme with links overseas.
The Rev. Johnny William ''Bill'' Cabe, 40, and the Rev. Shelton Joel Shirley, 48, each face 16 counts of money laundering and nine counts of wire fraud.
If convicted, the men could face up to 225 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines, along with repayment of the $7 million.
The pastors, operating under the missionary program Hisway Ministries, took money from investors from January to August 1998, offering returns of up to 500 percent in three months, according to the indictment.
One investor said he had forgiven the ministers, he still wanted to see them punished.
''I feel bad for them, but at the same time I want to see justice served,'' Don Calhoun said. ''I want my money back.''
Calhoun said he and his wife invested $30,000 with Cabe and Shirley, hoping to pay off their debts quickly. Other investors lived in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Washington D.C., the indictment said.
Thinking their money would be used for missionary work and in investments to make a profit, churchgoers gave $3.6 million to Cabe and Shirley, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean Eichelberger said. Other investors added more than $4 million.
Cabe, who was arrested by federal agents in York on Friday morning, appeared in court a few hours later. After hearing the charges against him and his partner, Cabe motioned toward prosecutors and said, ''I want to help them. We're not the bad guys.''
Also indicted was a London antiques dealer, Terrence Stanley Victor Wingrove, 58. He is charged with 17 counts of wire fraud and 14 counts of money laundering. Prosecutors said Wingrove took money from Cabe, Shirley and other investors and spent more than $12 million on art work and antiques.
Prosecutors said Wingrove has been arrested in London and they are attempting to extradite him to South Carolina.