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Judge freezes assets of Palm Beach County church involved in $30 million Ponzi scheme case

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Posted at 9:10 AM, May 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 09:12:21-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The pastor of a Palm Beach County church is refusing to turn over $1.7 million that financial regulators claim belongs to people who were caught up in a $30 million Ponzi scheme.

The Palm Beach Post reports a federal judge temporarily froze the accounts of Winners Church, located at 365 Jog Rd., and pastors Fred and Whitney Shipman.

The church leaders are fighting efforts to allow money to be returned to hundreds of people who were lured into a diamond and bitcoin investment scam.

Bishop Fred Shipman told the judge Thursday that returning the money would have a serious "ripple effect."

Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer Amie Berlin isn't claiming the church or pastors were involved in the scheme orchestrated by a former church director.

The judge gave both sides until June 3 to file papers explaining their positions.