Thieving Elder asks for parole

by Nathan Natas 5 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas


    By VERA HAFFEY - The Montana Standard - 03/30/06

    ANACONDA — A former Jehovah’s Witnesses’ church elder sentenced in 2003 for bilking over $7 million from a 100-year-old Deer Lodge woman’s trust estate will make an appeal for freedom at a parole hearing Thursday.

    After less than three years behind bars, Darryl K. Willis, 66, of Helena, has served enough of his 25-year sentence with 10 suspended to apply for parole in what prosecutors called the biggest theft case in Montana history.

    Earlier this month, parole was denied for Willis’ accomplice, former elder Dale A. Erickson, 56, of Missoula. The board not only denied Erickson’s bid for freedom, but told him he’s staying under lock and key for three more years before another review would be allowed.

    Una Anderson, who died last year at the age of 103, lost her life savings and a 6,400-acre family ranch near Jens in an elaborate befriend-and-betray scheme perpetrated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ elders who were subsequently “disfellowshipped,’’ according to church leaders.

    The money is still missing, and only about $400 of the court-ordered $7.15 million in restitution has been paid back, authorities said.

    After allegedly convincing Anderson that entrusting her fortune to them was in keeping with her religious beliefs, the pair used a complex system of interlocking companies and trusts to drain Anderson’s accounts, while they lived in expensive homes, drove luxury cars and hosted trips abroad to places like Europe and the Caribbean, records show.

    They also made numerous loans, large and small, to church and family members, records show, and charged Anderson a $400,000 brokerage fee for illegally and secretly selling her ranch.

    The scheme was reported in 2001 to Adult Protective Services social worker Janel Pliley by a relative who noticed that something was amiss at the Anderson household that appeared to be taken over by church people, records show.

    As the scheme progressed, Anderson became influenced by other church members who became more involved and controlling in Anderson’s care and daily life, court records show.

    At a sentencing hearing, Pliley testified that Anderson was “under watch’’ 24 hours a day.

    “She was basically a prisoner in her own house,’’ Pliley told the court.

    Meanwhile, Anderson’s savings from nearly a century of frugal living disappeared.

    Powell County attorney Chris Miller and Sheriff Scott Howard will attend the hearing at the Montana State Prison where Willis is an inmate, and asked the parole board to deny his request.

  • tetrapod.sapien

    ya, that's basically how it goes. bad people get away with bad stuff. i guess he serves his time, and ya, he gets to have a shot a parole. like all criminals.


  • LDH
    in what prosecutors called the biggest theft case in Montana history.

    Apparently, The Holy Sprit TM was taking a bathroom break when the decision to appoint him as an Elder TM was being prayed over.

    I wonder how many people he disfellowshipped while he was stealing a little old lady blind.


  • Billygoat

    You know if this hadn't been "the biggest theft in Montana history" and made all the papers, this guy would probably be a CO by now. JWs aren't worried about someone sinning, they are more worried about someone making their organization look bad. Only when news like that hits the papers, do they feel forced to take action.

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    I am delighted to learn that not only was this dirtbag's parole denied, but he was informed that he will spend 3 more years in prison before he will be permitted to request parole again!

    By Vera Haffey - The Montana Standard - 03/31/06

    DEER LODGE (LEE) — It was the most stupid thing he’s ever done in his life, a 66-year-old former Jehovah’s Witnesses’ church elder told state Board of Pardons Thursday.

    “I invested in the wrong things,” Darryl Willis said of around $7 million missing from the trust estate of an elderly Deer Lodge woman. “I invested with the wrong people.”

    But the admission fell short of taking responsibility for stealing the late Una Anderson’s family fortune, according to Powell County attorney Chris Miller.

    Miller said neither Willis nor his accomplice, former elder Dale A. Erickson, have fully acknowledged their actions that led to aggregate sentences of 25 years with 10 suspended each for theft, conspiracy and securities fraud, all felonies, in May 2003.

    “They continue to deny that they did anything wrong other than to make bad investments,” Miller said.

    Miller and Powell County Sheriff Scott F. Howard testified at the hearing and asked that Willis’ parole be denied. They based that request in part on feedback from family and community members who say the time served is not commensurate with the enormity of the crime.

    The board denied the bid for freedom, and told Willis they wouldn’t review another such request for three years.

    Court documents say Willis and Erickson befriended and then betrayed Anderson, secretly selling her 6,400-acre family ranch near Jens and draining her life savings amassed by nearly a century of hard work and frugal living.

    Anderson, who came to Montana in a covered wagon, was a widow who lost her only son in a ranch accident years ago. She also worked at the Jens post office.

    She was introduced to the elders by a mutual friend in the Deer Lodge church group, records show.

    At the 2003 sentencing hearing, Adult Protective Services worker Janel Pliley told the court that Anderson was “under watch 24 hours a day,” by church members, who closely monitored her finances and activities.

    Their presence caused a division between Anderson and her family members, who contacted local police in September 2001, and an investigation began.

    Erickson, who is detained at the Cascade County Detention Facility in Great Falls, was also denied parole at a hearing earlier this month. The men have served just under three years apiece, but enough of their sentences to make them eligible for parole hearings.

    Anderson, who died last year at 103, had her own ideas on justice for the church leaders that won her trust, then stole her legacy.

    “Lock ’em up and throw away the key,” Anderson said in an interview three years ago.

    She suggested confining the two in the old territorial prison in Deer lodge, where folks could pay a nickel a head to see what the white collar criminals looked like.

    That way, Anderson reasoned, she might recover some of the hard-earned money they stole from her.

    But the money is still largely unaccounted for, records show, and a court request for a full and accurate financial disclosure of Anderson’s assets was never provided.

    Parole board chairman Vance Curtiss asked about the possibility that money could be stashed for use after the defendants get out of jail.

    “How convenient would it be to spirit some of the money away and wait till (the defendants) get out and enjoy life for a while?” he asked.

    As it was, Erickson and Willis were granted 90 days of freedom after their sentencing to try to recover Anderson’s lost assets.

    They didn’t.

    To date, around $400 has been paid toward the $6.5 million restitution debt by Willis. Erickson has paid nothing, according to Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Anez.

    Howard said a difficult moment during the investigation came when Anderson asked him if he could get the family ranch back, and he had to tell her, no, he said.

    Even so, Willis called Anderson “a wonderful lady.”

    “I hurt her very much and I’m very sorry for that,” he said.

    Reporter Vera Haffey may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] .

  • LDH

    ha ha.

    HA HA HA


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