AG Horne: Prison Time for Man Who Stole Money from Church Members

PHOENIX (Wednesday, March 7, 2012) -- Attorney General Tom Horne today announced that Edward Anthony Purvis of Chandler, Arizona, has been sentenced in Maricopa County Superior Court to five years in prison on one count of Illegal Control of an Enterprise stemming from a scheme to steal money from church members.

Between February of 2002 and March of 2007, Purvis convinced more than 40 individuals, most of whom attended Chandler Christian Church and Vineyard Church in Avondale, to give Nakami Chi Group Ministries International (N.C.G.M.I.) over $8 million in exchange for promises of investment returns of 2% per month. Purvis failed to disclose to investors that N.C.G.M.I. never generated a profit; was only able to continue operating as long as new investors poured money into its bank accounts; that the source of returns to investors was money coming in from new investors; and that Purvis used some of these monies for his own personal benefit and the benefit of others.

“Mr. Purvis stole millions of dollars from those who trusted in him,” Horne said. “This crime is a sad reminder that people need to be extremely cautious with whom they trust their finances, and they should fully understand the investments they are making. Crimes like this are all-too-common and my office will continue to vigorously prosecute these cases.”

Judge Bruce Cohen of the Maricopa County Superior Court further sentenced Purvis to a consecutive term of 7 years of supervised probation with special "white collar" terms of probation on one count of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices. Purvis was ordered to pay restitution in excess of $3.8 million dollars.

White Collar terms of probation are reserved for those criminals that need an extra measure of oversight by the probation department due to the financial nature of the crime for which they have been convicted. Some of the terms include: not entering into any financial agreements without specific written approval of the probation department, not opening bank or credit accounts without permission of the probation department, no borrowing or lending of money without specific approval of probation department.

This case was investigated by the Securities Division of the Arizona Corporation Commission and was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Michael Flynn of the Fraud and Special Prosecutions Section of the Criminal Division.