SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — One man involved in a $13 million international fraud case with victims in South Dakota and other states was sentenced to federal prison today, the other defendant didn’t show up in federal court. KELOLAND Investigates has been following this scheme, which involved fake humanitarian projects, a European mansion, millions in silver coins, and now two people on the run from the law.
Today the man who prosecutors called the “mastermind” of the scheme, Nathan Peachey, a self-proclaimed pastor from Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 25 years behind bars and ordered to pay nearly $12 million in restitution.
Peachey spewed religious dialog as he entered the federal courthouse in Sioux Falls.
“Thus sayeth the Lord God, may the curse return to those that put it on me,” Peachey said as he made his way into the courthouse.
Peachey represented himself in court but only repeated that he accepted the charges and sentencing and issued no apology to his nearly two dozen victims. Two of his family members told the judge that Peachey is a family man and needs to be with his wife and two of his five children, who still live at home in Pennsylvania.
The federal prosecutor called Peachey a “shining and disturbing example of narcissism” and said, “he was not righteous or Christian like in any sense of the word.”
Meanwhile, his partner in the fraud, John Winer of New Mexico, failed to show up Monday afternoon in Sioux Falls for his scheduled sentencing. Winer wrote a letter to the court, asking his court-appointed attorney be fired, and said that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over him. A warrant has been issued for Winer’s arrest.
Another suspect, Frederick Arias, is at large and believed to be in Canada. The wife of another defendant who died, Luvoba Burkute, is now being held in Norway, awaiting extradition to the United States to face charges in the scheme.
“We have a lot of resources worldwide that we are putting into this case that we are trying to track down every dollar that was stolen. At the end of the day, we want to return that money to victims. That’s what we’re here for,” Tyler Hatcher, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, said.
Coming up this week, KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke is talking to international journalists covering the case.
She’s also talking with investigators for the first time about this bizarre and complex scheme and how it led them to a mansion in Norway and $2 million in hidden silver coins.
Plus, we find out about the treasure that is still missing and the plan to get victims their money back and how the international aspect of this story makes that more complicated.