Armand DeAngelis and his wife Marcela Ospina Cardona from Miami, Florida, were charged this week for allegedly conning up to $5 million from Christians by selling gold coins for two or three times their worth.
The couple apparently owned a company that sold gold coins, calling itself ''the leading Christian gold dealer." The company claimed its coins would double or triple their value in a matter of months, based on the judgment of another company the couple owned.
According to the Miami Herald, "'From in or around March 2000 through in or around June 2003, the defendants raised over $5 million through the sale of supposedly rare gold coins worldwide."
The couple took out ads in Christian magazines including World, The American Prospect, Christianity Today, Pulpit Helps, and Christian Parenting Today. Respondents to the ads were told "of an alleged impending financial crisis facing the economy while touting the purported benefits of investing in gold," the Herald said.
The couple raised more than $5 million between March 2000 and June 2003. They live in a $3.5 million home. DeAngelis is scheduled for an unrelated hearing for the violation of probation following a 1991 securities-law conviction in New Jersey, according to the Miami Herald.
One customer bought a set of four coins for $3,560, when the coins were actually worth $37.50. The defense attorney told the Herald that the value of investment coins is subjective.
An attorney for one of the plaintiffs in the case told the Associated Press that DeAngelis "has done awful, awful things to people from all over the country. He pretends to be a born-again Christian."
- Berlin talks tackle anti-Semitism | A major conference on anti-Semitism has opened in Berlin with calls for renewed efforts to fight the problem. (BBC)
- Conference looks to fight anti-Semitism | Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel warned European and North American countries Wednesday that anti-Semitism is on the rise and fervently urged them to keep "the poison from spreading." (Associated Press)
- 'Israel's actions don't justify anti-Semitism' | Jewish leaders won a major victory in Europe Thursday with the announcement of a major European political body, that Israel's actions do not justify anti-Semitism. (Jerusalem Post)
- Ending a 'deadly hate' of Jews | At Berlin forum, Powell and other diplomats pledge vigilance (Washington Post)
- Halting the new hatred | Two years ago members of Congress and the German Bundestag launched a joint project that will come to fruition this week in Berlin. More than 500 representatives from the 55-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are meeting to formulate an action plan to tackle the growing problem of anti-Semitism. (Gert Weisskirchen and George Voinovich, Washington Post)
- Security summit urges unity against rising anti-semitism | Anti-semitism is on the rise and to defeat it will take coordinated action by many countries, speakers told an international conference on the subject yesterday. (Reuters)
- Christian scholars gather to study dangers of Zionism | Over 600 Christian bible scholars, religious leaders and peace activists representing 32 countries, have gathered in Jerusalem's Notre Dame Centre to look at ways of challenging Christian Zionism. (Palestine Chronicle)
Islam in Europe:
- European Muslims search for identity | As the European Union gets bigger and more diverse with the entry of 10 new members in less than a week, the question of European identity and minorities will once again spring to the fore - including that of Europe's largest religious minority, the Muslims. (BBC)
- Executive will not pay for Muslim schools | First Minister Jack McConnell yesterday ruled out direct Executive funding for Muslim schools in Scotland in the wake of the highly critical report on the Imam Muhammad Zakariya school in Dundee. (Muslim News, UK)
- Islam 'should talk to the West' | Delegates from 65 Islamic countries are meeting in Cairo for the start of a conference on tolerance in Islam. (BBC)
Muslims, police clash in Thailand, church burned in Ambon:
- Thai police kill 107 Muslims in battles | More than 100 Muslim militants armed with machetes and guns died as they attacked security posts in southern Thailand yesterday. (The Telegraph, UK)
- Thai forces kill 107 after attacks by Muslim youths | Thailand's troubled southern provinces exploded into violence yesterday when hundreds of Muslim youths attacked 15 police and military posts in an apparent attempt to seize weapons. (The Guardian, UK)
- Jakarta denies troops razed Ambon church | Witnesses in Karang Panjang, in Ambon city, said soldiers arrived at the Nazaret church on Tuesday night and promised to guard it. The soldiers, from Kostrad 413, according to one witness, asked everyone sheltering in the church to leave. Shortly afterwards, the church was aflame. (The Australian)
Church & state:
- Indonesia set to re-arrest cleric | Indonesian police have said they will re-arrest militant cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir when he is released from jail on Friday. (BBC)
- Second German state bans headscarf | Lower Saxony became the second German state to ban Muslim public school teachers from wearing headscarves after regional deputies voted in a new law to that effect yesterday. (Agence France Presse)
- CalMac sails into troubled Sabbath waters | This weekend, another part of Sabbath tradition in the Hebrides will end when the first Sunday Caledonian MacBrayne ferry travels between Skye and Raasay (The Herald, Scotland)
- BJP in do-or-die battle to swing late votes | India's ruling Hindu nationalists have moved the might of their final campaign to the key heartland state of Uttar Pradesh to swing voters and win a majority. (Arab News, Middle East)
- Catholic priest who aids church sexual abuse victims loses job | Twenty years ago, the Rev. Thomas Doyle warned the nation's Roman Catholic bishops about the church's looming sexual abuse nightmare. Since then, he has become a hero to the victims, speaking out on their behalf and helping them in legal cases in recent years. In doing so, Father Doyle also became a thorn in the side of the church hierarchy. (New York Times)
- Diocese reviews Satanic slay allegations | The Toledo Diocese is taking another look at a woman's previously dismissed claims of satanic sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests now that one of the clergymen has been charged with the "ritualistic" slaying of a nun 24 years ago. (Associated Press)
- Protesters seize San Salvador cathedral | Masked demonstrators who stormed the main cathedral in El Salvador's capital demanded the country's new president withdraw troops from Iraq and rehire dozens of fired government employees. (Associated Press)
- Pope tells U.S. bishops of need for holiness, humble lifestyles | Pope John Paul II told American churchmen Thursday that bishops must strive for personal holiness and a lifestyle imitating "the poverty of Christ." (Associated Press)
- Asia puts faith in mobiles | Mobiles phones are not usually seen in the West as a way of keeping in touch with God. (BBC)
- DNA test to probe high mortality rate in Jain sect | A country-wide DNA test is being conducted to investigate increasing mortality among the Kutchhi Dasha Oswal, one of the Jain community's sects hailing from the Kutch region of Gujarat. (IANS)
- Canadians Muslims will get sharia courts to settle disputes | Canada is embarking on an unusual judicial experiment that will allow members of its Muslim community to submit to the teachings of the Koran to resolve a variety of civil legal disputes, ranging from divorces to business conflicts. (The Independent, UK)
- Quilts are stars at Mennonite relief sale | The relief sale in Brooklyn Park is just one of about 40 Mennonite relief sales that are conducted each year around the United States and Canada. The sales have been going on for years, often in areas with large communities of Mennonites, who are Christians with Anabaptist origins. (Sun Newspapers, Minnesota)
- Kroger pulls Christian newspaper from free racks | Citing a policy to exclude political and Christian publications from their free racks, Kroger executives have removed The Southeast Outlook, published by Southeast Christian Church. (WLKY, Louisville, Kentucky)
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