Updated:FAYETTE COUNTY, Ga. —
Peachtree City businessman Eldon A. Gresham has pleaded guilty to mail fraud, acknowledging he bilked investors out of $15.8 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Gresham’s trial on charges he masterminded the foreign currency exchange scam was to begin Monday in the Northern District of Texas.
Prosecutors say he solicited the money from about 90 people — most of them elderly —- by promising monthly returns of 5 to 10 percent.
The former regional director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes traded on his faith to recruit investors. According to the indictment, Gresham told potential investors his success was due to the Lord’s blessings, adding he was offering the program to “a limited number of Christians for a limited time.”
Prosecutors said he deposited only about $2 million of the investment funds into his trading accounts. The scam was exposed in 2009 once customers — who had been paid off with the funds coming from new investors — stopped receiving any money.
Gresham, 67, will avoid the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison in accordance with his plea deal, said U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. His recommended prison time will be on the bottom end of federal sentencing guidelines, though the court will ultimately decide. Gresham, who served as his own legal counsel, also agreed to forfeit a $15.8 million judgment to the government, Saldana said.
The former Texas Christian University standout has been in federal custody since December 13, when he was arrested in Fayette County for violating the conditions of his pre-trial release.
Gresham’s bond hearing and sentencing date have yet to be scheduled.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution contributed to this report.