Gold, God, and the government. A former West Tennessee lawmaker is just weeks away from going on trial. The feds say Dr. Larry Bates and his two sons scammed hundreds of victims out of $18 million.
The government claims Bates targeted Christians and the elderly in an end of the world scheme, for more than a decade starting in 2002.
Victims say they never got what they paid for, but Bates says he’s “the victim.”
“We’re the victims of a giant conspiracy, said Dr. Larry Bates, “These are totally bogus allegations.”
Bates was the CEO of a company called First American Monetary Consultants also known as FAMC, and head of the Information Radio Network. IRN provided radio listeners with information and advice on topics including politics and the world economy.
According to Federal Prosecutors, Bates used the radio network as a way to promote and solicit the sale or purchase of gold and silver. Bates is accused of embezzling proceeds from customers to fund personal expenses.
From internet videos to radio spots to books, Bates spread his message that the U. S. economy was on the brink of collapse.
One Bates’ supporter questions the government’s motives. “Are they going after Bates because he stole money or because he’s telling it like it is? He says the system is going to collapse,” said Duncan Ragsdale, a lawyer. Ragsdale has been following the Bates case.
“He was not targeted for any other reason, other than a lot of people that gave his company money, or precious metals, didn’t get anything in return,” said John Ryder, a lawyer.
A federal judge appointed lawyer Ryder to manage the assets of FAMC after victims filed a class action lawsuit. “If the money came into FAMC where did it go? That’s been what’s under investigation,” said Ryder.
“I have to say, I do say, the devil and all the devils that are being controlled by Satan himself. I mean we a courtroom full of devils here. I just say to them I pray for your salvation and pray you will repent,” said Bates. Bates denies he’s done anything criminal, saying at the time his customers began having trouble with orders, he had health problems. And says he trusted a former employee to handle business.
Complicating the case, in January, prosecutors announced one of their primary witnesses, a former employee, admitted stealing as much as $400,000 in cash and coins from FAMC customers.
Bates say that’s reason enough to drop the case against his family. Ryder says, “The amount it appears the former employee may have taken pales in comparison to money lost to the customers at large.”
“We have seen corruption and what I call institutional tyranny,” said Bates.
Bates believes, in the end, he will be cleared of any criminal charges, and he doesn’t hide how he feels about those prosecuting him. “They just need to come and confess their sins because God gonna deal with them.”
In addition to Bates’ criminal trial in April, he and his sons also face a civil trial this summer. In that case, former customers hope they will be able to recoup their money.