Former East Tennessee preacher indicted in Ponzi scheme after plea agreement rejected

Roger Williams leaves U.S. Federal Court on March 6, 2016

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A former East Tennessee preacher has been indicted on charges of fraud and money laundering.

WATE 6 On Your Side has been following for several years the story of Roger Williams and the investment ventures he operated. The government says from 2001 and continuing through the summer of 2014, Williams knowingly and with intent, cheated people who had invested in ventures that he solely operated.

The government alleges Williams laundered money, caused his investors to file false tax forms, and participated in mail fraud. Williams has been back and forth to court several times and will be heading there once again.

Previous story: Judge rejects plea agreement for East Tennessee preacher in Ponzi scheme

As the former investment manager left federal court on March 6, he had two weeks to decide whether to withdraw his guilty plea, entered November 7 of last year, or move to a trial. Williams withdrew the plea and has now been indicted.

Williams was scheduled to be formally sentenced in Knoxville last month, but Judge Pamela Reeves said at the time, she was distressed when she read victim statements about the amount of money misappropriated. Judge Reeves said she could not accept Williams plea agreement of 51 months worked out by the government and Williams’ attorney.

Nearly a hundred people once trusted Williams with investing over a million dollars of their money.

The grand jury indictment charges Williams with “mail fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of administration of federal tax.”  The charge claims because he was a man of God, Williams “lulled” people into a “false sense of security.”

The next time Williams appears in court — he’ll be arraigned and will plead to the information in the indictment. If he is convicted, any money he has and any property he owns will be forfeited.

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