Former state rep gets 21-year sentence for Ponzi scheme

One-time Tennessee legislator Larry Bates drew a prison sentence of 21 years and 10 months for a $20 million Ponzi scheme around the family business of selling gold and silver to investors on Tuesday, reports the Memphis Daily News.

Bates and his family did so with an appeal based on political and economic instability and focused on pitches on Christian media outlets as well as their own Information Radio Network Inc.

Bates and his son, Chuck Bates, were sentenced … by U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman in separate sentencing hearings. The elder Bates was also ordered to pay $21 milion in restitution to 400 people defrauded in the scheme.

He was convicted by a jury in May of 46 counts of fraud.

Chuck Bates was sentenced to 12 years and 7 months in prison and ordered to pay $19.6 million in restitution. He was convicted by the same jury as his father on 17 fraud counts.

Customers had given $87 million to First American Monetary Consultants for the purpose of buying precious metals. But prosecutors said and the jury agreed that the defendants kept the money for their personal use, including commodities trading and a 10,000-square-foot house. By 2009, the company had more than $26 million dollars in unfilled orders.

Note: Larry Bates, now 73, served three two-year terms as a state representative, starting in 1971. He was a Democrat from Martin at the time.

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