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Boulder pastor, two others suspected in investment scheme

A former associate pastor at Boulder's City on the Hill Church and two other men have been arrested on suspicion of bilking about $750,000 from local investors who were told they were putting their money in international bank notes in countries like Switzerland.

Former pastor Loren Ankarlo and Kevin Lauritsen were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of three counts of theft, three counts of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Act. Douglas Wertzbaugher was arrested Wednesday at his Broomfield home on suspicion of two counts of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

Ankarlo was being held at the Denver County Jail on a misdemeanor offense when he was arrested on the Boulder County warrant. Lauritsen was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and all three men will be transported to Boulder County to face the new charges.

Officials with City of Hill Church could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The men are accused of convincing at least three men -- who said they trusted Ankarlo because of his role at the Boulder church -- to put hundreds of thousands of dollars toward a unique investment opportunity. According to investigators, the suspects failed to return the investors' money and are suspected of spending it to pay themselves and earlier investors.

One investor, who submitted a complaint to the Boulder County District Attorney's Office, said he knew Ankarlo and Wertzbaugher because Ankarlo was an associate pastor at City on the Hill and Wertzbaugher was married to the pastor's sister, according to an arrest warrant.

Ankarlo told the man that he was a senior vice president of One Source Funding Group, which gave investors an opportunity to participate in a program that generated a high rate of return. The investors said they were told that their money would only go into the investment "platforms" and they all learned later that it was used to pay off previous debts and One Source employees, according to the warrant.

One investor, Ed Mazur, told investigators that he was hesitant to put "all the money (he) had" into a platform and that Wertzbaugher became frustrated with his reluctance and eventually told him to "fish or cut bait, they all had bills to pay," according to the warrant.

"Ed thought the comment was strange because Wertzbaugher was not to be paid with up front commissions resulting from Ed's investment," the warrant said.

Mazur eventually decided to invest because he had watched the value of his annuity drop from $310,000 to $200,000 and wanted to preserve what he had left, the warrant said.

"Ankarlo explained that they (Ankarlo and Wertzbaugher) were not doing anything with the money other than facilitating the transfer to the banks," according to the warrant. "The banks would be investing in churches, orphanages, nursing homes, roads and dams in developing countries."

Mazur said he was still hesitant to invest and "Ankarlo prayed with Ed so that Ed would have 'the strength to do the right thing,'" according to the warrant. After investing and failing to receive his principal or any return on his money, Mazur e-mailed Lauritsen, who told him "Ankarlo was an alcoholic and was making promises unknown to Lauritsen," the warrant said.

When investigators contacted Ankarlo, he told them that he has no training in banking or finance and was asked by Lauritsen to help with One Source Funding. Ankarlo considered himself an "intern" to Lauritsen's investment expertise and told investigators that he involved the alleged victims because he knew they "had experienced hardships in their lives and Ankarlo wanted to help them," the warrant said.

"Ankarlo did not recall the details of the sales presentations ... because he was on medications that affected his memory at the time," the warrant said.

Lauritsen told investigators that Ankarlo was president of One Source and that Lauritsen didn't know what was presented to prospective investors.

"The philanthropic platforms were presented by Ankarlo and were not his (Lauritsen's) idea," according to the warrant.

STORY LINK

Read more: Former Boulder pastor, two others suspected in investment scheme - Boulder Daily Camera http://www.dailycamera.com/news/ci_14515700#ixzz0hSPiFEni


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