Luis Alonso Serna, 61, entered the plea in August in connection with a wire fraud scheme that targeted Spanish-speaking victims of meager means.
“This case involves an egregious fraud that targeted non-wealthy victims who believed in the defendant because he was a pastor,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memo to the court. “The effects of this crime on the victims are truly devastating in every way.
“In short [Serna] has caused not only financial loss, but the loss of homes, the loss of ability to pay for education for children, the need to declare bankruptcy, psychological damage, physical damage and endless suffering,” prosecutors said.
In addition to the 121-month prison sentence handed down Monday, U.S. District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell ordered Serna to pay $4.6 million in restitution to his victims.
The pastor at San Fernando-based Zion Living World Christian Center, which was formerly known as Amistad Cristiana, admitted to running a Ponzi scheme that involved soliciting loans and saying the money would be invested in foreign currency.
Instead, Serna said his firm Architects of the Future Investments only used a small amount of the money to invest in foreign currency. Instead, he used most of it to placate people who had given him money previously, Serna said in his plea agreement.
— City News Service
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