FLINT, MI – The state has shut down a Flint pastor’s businesses following accusations that he owes millions to investors.
Larry Holley, pastor of Flint-based Abundant Life Ministries and his business partner Patricia Gray agreed that they will no longer conduct any business regulated under the Michigan Uniform Securities Act, according to a Thursday, Sept. 14, statement from the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
“To protect Michigan investors from unscrupulous individuals, particularly vulnerable senior citizens, the state requires that securities and those who sell them be properly registered or exempt from registration,” LARA’s Corporations, Securities and Commercial Licensing Bureau Director Julia Dale said in the statement. “I strongly urge consumers to contact CSCL to verify a company or person’s registration status to better know the credentials of who they’re doing business with.”
Holley’s assets had been seized after civil fraud charges were filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, accusing him of exploiting church members, retirees and laid-off auto workers into investing in a real estate business he claimed was successful.
The state also fined his business, Treasure Enterprise LLC, $40,000, Gray $90,000 and Holley $40,000, the statement said. The fines will be deferred until the civil case is resolved.
SEC files civil fraud charges against Flint pastor who targeted retirees
Prosecutors previously claimed some investors never saw their promised returns. More than 40 investors were owed roughly $2 million when the lawsuit was filed in March.
Holley, of Grand Blanc, used faith-based rhetoric and scripture and biblical references to lure in investors, the SEC claims.
He hosted financial presentations masked as “blessed life conferences” at churches across the country, the SEC said, and because Holley was a man who “prayed for your children,” he was more trustworthy than a “banker” with their money.
Holley’s company, Treasure Enterprise LLC, and his business partner, Gray, of Flint, who is also named in the civil action, bilked about $6.7 million from more than 80 investors who were promised high returns because they were investing in a profitable real estate company with hundreds of residential and commercial properties, the SEC claims.
MLive-The Flint Journal could not reach Holley, Gray or anyone at Treasure Enterprises for comment on Thursday, Sept. 14.
Gray also advertised on a religious radio station in Flint and called for laid-off auto workers who had severance packages to consult her for a “financial increase,” the SEC alleges.
Investors were allegedly promised by Gray that she would rollover their retirement funds into tax-advantaged Individual Retirement Accounts and invest them in Treasure Enterprise.
No investor funds were ever deposited into IRAs, according to the SEC, and Treasure Enterprise struggled to make enough revenue from its real estate investments to support the business and make payments owed to investors.
Starting in 2015, there were about 83 people who invested with Treasure — some turned over their entire life savings, according to court documents.
Holley, Gray and Treasure Enterprise were not registered to sell investments.
The SEC has obtained a temporary restraining order to freeze the assets of Holley, Gray and Treasure Enterprise, the statement said.
Holley, Gray and Treasure Enterprise were first ordered to cease and desist from selling unregistered securities, from acting as unregistered agents and from making false or misleading statements in the offer and sale of securities, in August 2016.
State orders Grand Blanc pastor to stop selling investments