Black Collar Crime Round-Up: March 27, 2012

Julius C. Blackwelder • Robert Buechner • Timothy Patrick Cousins • Nicole Jacques
Richard Jones • Joseph Patrick Shaw • Luke Travers/Justin Caputo/Delbarton School

Indicted: Julius C. Blackwelder, 59, former bishop, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Trumbull, Connecticut (Bridgeport ward), on charges of affinity fraud, allegedly fleecing against fellow Mormons of more than $400,000. According to a press release from the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), a federal grand jury in Bridgeport returned an indictment charging Blackwelder “of Utah, formerly of Stratford, Conn., with nine counts of money laundering and mail and wire fraud in connection with an alleged investor fraud scheme. ‘Blackwelder orchestrated his alleged Ponzi scheme in part through an account and a line of credit used under false pretenses at Bank of America, which, at the time, held taxpayer funds under TARP,’ said Christy Romero, Deputy Special Inspector General for SIGTARP. … Beginning in 2005, it is alleged that Blackwelder persuaded individuals to invest their money with him as part of an investment pool known as the ‘Friend’s Investment Group.’ At the time, Blackwelder was the Bishop of the Bridgeport Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located in Trumbull, Conn., and he solicited investments from, among others, members of his congregation. … Blackwelder documented his misrepresentations to investors in promissory notes, offering memoranda, and account updates that he prepared. In fact, Blackwelder used investors’ money to pay his own expenses, which included repaying earlier investors in the scheme, building a waterfront home in Stratford, and repaying personal bank loans, including a line of credit from Bank of America, which received funds under the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). … If convicted, Blackwelder faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count of mail and wire fraud and 10 years on each count of money laundering.” It appears that the home Blackwelder (who also appears to have operated “Friend’s Investment Group” from a home in Tyler, Texas) and his wife built in 2005 went into foreclosure in 2010. It also appears Blackwelder has been involved, at least until 2010, with the Connecticut Yankee Council, Inc., “Delivering the programs of The Boy Scouts of America and Learning for Life,” winning a “Silver Beaver Award” as a youth. Story: SIGTARP, March 27, 2012; Salt Lake Tribune, March 27, 2012; NewsTimes.com, March 27, 2012

Robert BuechnerCharged: Robert Buechner, 69, special-education teacher’s aide, Ramona High School, Ramona, California, and catechism teacher and choir member, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Ramona, California, with 11 felony counts, including oral copulation, lewd and lascivious activities with a child under 16, sodomy and penetration with a foreign object. The Ramona Patch reports: “Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy said molestations took place over a period of several months, either at the boy’s group home for at-risk youth, the defendant’s car, or the man’s house.” Buechner — who, the Patch also notes, “is married and has several adult children,” and who, a neighbor told NBC San Diego, “dresses up as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus every year” — is being held on a half-million-dollar bond. Seeking a bail reduction scheduled to be heard March 28, 2012, Buechner has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Story: Ramona Patch, March 22, 2012; NBC San Diego (with video), March 22, 2012; Ramona Patch, March 26, 2012

AustraliaSentenced: Timothy Patrick Cousins, 50, to six and a half years (with the last two and a half years to be served on weekends) after pleading guilty to embezzling AU$1.2 million (US$1,252,715) over the course of about six years from the Manuka, ACT, Australia, Catholic Education Office, where he had been employed for some 30 years. The Canberra Times notes that prosecutors will now “begin the task of recouping the money Cousins stole, after Chief Justice Higgins made a reparation order for the missing funds. In the short-term, Cousins stands to lose at least his house,” which “will automatically be forfeited in two weeks,” and likely will lose “a Thai getaway Cousins built with the proceeds of his crimes.” Story: The Age, March 26, 2012; ABC Australia, March 26, 2012; Canberra Times, March 27, 2012

Nicole JacquesCharged: Nicole Jacques, 25, former church teacher, Calvary Baptist School, Lansdale, Pennsylvania, with 20 counts each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault and corruption of a minor, as well as 10 counts of unlawful contact with a minor, stemming from allegations she engaged in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old male student. Jacques, who could not make $50,000 bail, is currently in custody. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 4, 2012. Story: Delcotimes.com, March 27, 2012; Philly.com, March 27, 2012; WPVI, March 27, 2012

United KingdomSentenced: Richard Jones, 47, treasurer, Stafford Baptist Church, to one year of community order, 260 hours’ unpaid work, plus restitution and costs, after his conviction of stealing £2,411 (US$3,854) in cash raised through fundraising events for the church. “Unemployed salesman Jones,” reports the Express & Star, “whose wife is a teaching assistant at the school, pleaded guilty to theft between October 2011 and January 2012. … Defending him, Michael Wetton said Jones had not set out to steal but the family had found themselves in financial difficulties and he used the money to pay Christmas bills. His wife had no idea what he had done. The court was told two of the couple’s [three] children attend the school.” Story: Express & Star, March 22, 2012

Joseph Patrick ShawSentenced: Joseph Patrick Shaw, 57, former “headteacher,” St. Maria Goretti Catholic Primary School, Ribbleton, Preston, Lancashire, England, to three years in prison, a 10-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order or SOPO (essentially a conditional probation), a lifetime ban on working with children, and lifetime registration as a sex offender, after pleading guilty to 16 counts of manufacturing and distributing child pornography (more than 16,000 images in all). The sentencing judge told Shaw: “Your hypocrisy is almost unimaginable. You portrayed yourself as looking after and caring for children throughout your career in education. You claimed, in the interests of children, to be seeking to locate paedophiles in order to bring them to the attention of the police and justice, and that is why you said you infiltrated chatrooms and paedophile groups for that specific purpose. Your claim was a complete and utter sham. It was a mask that you were seeking to hide behind because, in truth, what you were doing was not having the welfare of children at the forefront of your mind, you were not caring for children in any shape, size or form, you were perpetrating the sexual abuse of children. … You have brought shame and disgrace upon yourself, your family and upon your profession. You have been living a sham for a considerable period of time.” Story: Lancashire Evening Post, March 28, 2012

United StatesSued: Delbarton School, private Roman Catholic middle/high boys’ school operated by the Benedictine monks of St. Mary’s Abbey, Morristown, New Jersey, by Tom Crane and Bill Crane, Jr., “two brothers who grew up on the campus … where their father was a teacher,” who “filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming the Catholic school and St. Mary’s Abbey failed to stop alleged sexual abuse” between 1977 and 1980 by former headmaster and monk Luke Travers, who “was removed last year from an administrative post of a Virginia Catholic school when other allegations of sexual abuse surfaced, and the Rev. Justin Caputo, who until recently was assigned to Notre Dame of Mt. Carmel Parish in Cedar Knolls,” reports the Summit, NJ, Patch. Story: Richmond Times-Dispatch , January 12, 2012; Summit Patch, March 25, 2012

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