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Local News

Former Bishop Pleads Guilty In Ponzi Scheme

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File photo of a gavel (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a gavel (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A former Mormon bishop in Trumbull has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges in a Ponzi scheme whose victims included members of his congregation.

Prosecutors say 59-year-old Julius Blackwelder who now lives in North Dakota  persuaded investors,  including church members,  to invest money with him starting in 2005,  claiming he would invest the funds in safe,  long-term commodities futures contracts.  They say he used the money to pay early investors,  to build a waterfront home in Stratford,  and to repay personal bank loans.  It’s estimated he defrauded investors of some $400,000.

He pleaded guilty to one count each of of wire fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and of money laundering, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 15, 2013.

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