continued Another reason was that investors were constantly trying to serve Harrell and his soulmates with civil lawsuits. Miraculously, he always evaded service. One time, an attorney's investigators found Harrell and his flock in a Rodeway Inn in San Ysidro. They tossed furniture at the investigator and jumped out the back window, escaping in a vehicle, says the U.S. Attorney's office.
Harrell's personality seems to have conflicting sides. One is charity: he shells out $40,000 per day to members of his flock and himself, according to Lee's report (of course, this is investors' money). But Harrell is far less charitable toward brethren whom he suspects of cooperating with the government. In one videotape, Harrell is recorded vowing he will "blow the head off" a congregation member who may be ratting on the enterprise.
All told, the organization is "cultlike," says Lee in his report.
The same could be said for a third group under indictment -- those who tried to peddle so-called high-tech inventions through La Jolla's Basic Research Corp. and an affiliated entity, Advanced Technologies International, based on the secrecy-shrouded offshore haven of the Bahamas.
The heads of this scheme started investor meetings by bowing their heads and thanking God for the great gift of the inventions of Stephen Smith, purportedly a descendant of Eli Whitney. "We can change the course of history of telecommunications and medicine. We can serve mankind," said one now-indicted financier, right after his prayer.
But the inventions didn't materialize and investors got skinned for $12 million, says the U.S. Attorney's office. The case goes to trial in May, says assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen P. Clark.
The various heads of the scheme are charged with mail and wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and income-tax evasion. The ringleader, Nick Hronopolous, has died, as has an unindicted Chicago lawyer, Burton Kanter, one of the nation's most notorious offshore money movers. One Basic Research civil suit charges Kanter with being associated with organized crime. Civil suits also charge that one of the companies funneled money from the tax haven of the Isle of Jersey to the haven of the Caymans.
Or were they tax heavens, not havens?