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Judge says Palm Beach County church must return $2 million from Ponzi scheme

Posted at 8:34 AM, Jun 18, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a Florida church and its two pastors should return $2 million in donations they received from a parishioner who stole the money in a Ponzi scheme.

Federal Judge Robin Rosenberg ruled that the Winners Church and its father and son pastors, Frederick and Whitney Shipman, should be required to return the stolen money they received from member Jose Aman. He and two others took the money in a $30 million Ponzi scheme.

The Palm Beach Post reports that the Shipmans had argued that state law exempts donations made to religious organizations from seizure. Rosenberg ruled the exemption doesn't apply because the money is being sought by federal regulators.

The 3,000-member Pentecostal church received $1.2 million while Frederick Shipman got $729,000. His son received $41,000.