The former host of a Saturday morning Christian radio show was arrested this month in connection with a Ponzi scheme that bilked 38 people in Florida out of $6 million.
Gary Gauthier was arrested last week in Tampa, reported the St. Petersburg Tribune, and charged with one count each of racketeering and conspiring to engage in a pattern of racketeering behavior, two counts each of organized fraud and security fraud, and six counts each of sale of an unregistered security and sale of a security by an unregistered dealer.
Another man, David Dreslin, was arrested earlier this month on the same charges in connection with the case.
Authorities said the 64-year-old Gauthier, who now lives in Michigan, lured his victims through his Tampa radio shows, which also included “It’s All About Florida Real Estate,” broadcast on WTBN-AM and WGUL-AM.
“A majority of the victims stated they relied upon the statements made by Gauthier because they were made on a Christian radio station,” according to court documents, which also noted that most victims were over 60 years old.
The 54-year-old Dreslin attracted people through his accounting practice, investigators said.
A retired dental technician and postal worker told the newspaper she was persuaded to deposit her $86,000 IRA in a company set up by Gauthier and Dreslin.
“They put this guy on the air,” said Denise Ferrari, of Clearwater. “Folks called in and said, ‘We don’t have to work again because we invested in Gary Gauthier.’”
Now the 62-year-old has sued the pair to get her money back.
“I was shocked to find out it was a Ponzi scheme,” Ferrari said. “How was I to know? How were the victims to know?”
Gauthier provided a telephone number on air to set up appointments to meet his listeners, investigators said, and encouraged them to invest tens of thousands of dollars in various real estate developments.
The pair promised quick returns of 8 percent to 40 percent, authorities said, but most victims never got any money back and many lost their homes or retirement savings.
Authorities said that Gauthier and Dreslin, contrary to their claims, never invested their own money in the developments.
[Image: An elderly woman with money via Shutterstock]