Terry Earl Hester of Pike County, Alabama was charged with violating the Alabama Securities Act after allegedly making false promises to a Tuscaloosa County church involving $1.5 million in funds.

Hester turned himself into authorities on June 15. The charges are the result of a six-count indictment by a Tuscaloosa County grand jury, according to a statement made by the District Attorney’s office and Joseph Borg, Director of the Alabama Securities Commission.

The indictment charges Hester with one count of Sale of Unregistered Securities and one count of Sale of Securities by an Unregistered Agent. Each charge carries a fine of up to $15,000 upon conviction. Additionally, Hester is charged with four counts of Fraud in Connection with the Sale of Securities for making untrue statements or, or omitting to state, material facts to an investor; for engaging in an act, practice or course of business which operates as a fraud or deceit upon an investor; and for employing a device, scheme or artifice to defraud an investor.  Each of those charges is punishable by not more than 20 years or less than 2 years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $30,000 per charge, upon conviction.

According to the indictment, between January 2012 and December 2013, Hester sold investment contracts for a “Private Placement Funding Agreement” and a “Standby Letter of Credit” to a West Highland Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa.

Hester allegedly lied to the church, stating that he could invest their money in these programs to generate $3,000,000 to fund construction of a new church.  Hester convinced the church to appoint him as the finance director, and then obtained two investments from the church, totaling $1,530,000, according to the statement.

Hester allegedly promised that $1,500,000 of the invested funds would remain in an attorney trust account in the church’s name until the transaction was completed.  However, the statement says that Hester also opened undisclosed accounts in the church’s name over which he was the sole signatory and, without informing the church, spent the church’s funds on Hester’s personal expenses.

Hester also overpaid a man for services related to the investment transactions, according to the indictment. He allegedly told the church that he was paying a man $100,000 for the transaction when He actually paid the man $300,000.

Neither Hester nor the investment contracts he sold were registered with the Alabama Securities Commission, as required by the Alabama Securities Act, according to the statement.

If you or someone you know has lost money as a result of an investment or Ponzi scheme, please contact Richard Frankowski at 888-741-7503 to discuss your potential legal remedies or complete the contact form.