Courts & Law

14 years in prison for “pastor”

THE FORMER “pastor” of a church in Westminster has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for mail fraud and filing a false federal income tax form (Shutterstock).

A sentence of 14 years in prison has been handed down to the former self-proclaimed pastor of a Westminster church who pleaded guilty last year to federal criminal charges that he ran a church-based “investment scam” that reaped over $33 million.

Kent R. E. Whitney, 39, of Newport Beach, who operated the Church of the Healthy Self, entered his plea to mail fraud and filing a false federal income tax return. The sentence was imposed Friday by U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton, who also ordered Whitney to pay $22.6 million in restitution.

Through the church, Whitney created an investment company that promised an annual rate of return of 12 percent, that the investment was safe because it was federally insured and that his company was audited by the well-known accounting firm of KMPG, none of which was true.

Whitney had faced a maximum sentence of 23 years in federal prison.

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