2 Former Elders in Scam

by Kenneson 11 Replies latest jw friends

  • Kenneson

    Many of you will remember the South Florida elder, Raymond L. Knowles, who is due for sentence for defrauding elderly and J.W. members at the beginning of November. Well, we have another case--this one in Montana and involving 2 former elders. It is being described as the "biggest single theft case in Montana history."

    See "Niece's questions reveal massive scam"


  • Swan

    It appears that they were elders when the scam took place. Looks like the WTBTS DFed them pretty quick!

  • jimbob

    I don't know what it is with brothers and business.......they never mix. I know of so many instances where brothers have cheated on their taxes, taken advantage of other brothers and sisters when they're employees, been involved in shady business dealings.....the list goes on. Oh wait....JW's are honest and fair in all things in life, including business...WHAT WAS I THINKING?? You can always trust the brothers......

  • Soledad

    You can always trust the brothers......

    uh huh yeah right. there was an elder from my congregation who owned an insurance and realty agency, employed other JWs, paid them minimum wage, and totally scammed anyone who bought a policy from him. the elder set fire to a house they owned next door so he could collect the insurance money, almost killing everyone who was in the house at that time. you think anyone from the congregation blew the whistle on this guy? NO! he was an elder, and his wife a regular pioneer, so he could do no wrong, even after he bought a $1M yacht shortly after the fire and held a big party for those in the "in crowd" (of course I wasn't invited). So much for keeping your eye simple.

    BTW it was my dad, not a JW, who blew the whistle on him and made sure he got thrown in jail for fraud, grand larceny and arson.

  • Scully


    This is precisely the kind of thing I foresee regarding the new Durable Power of Attorney forms that are being signed by JWs for the "No Blood Transfusion" doctrine. How much of her money do you suppose went directly to the WTS?? How much do you suppose they'll graciously return to her??

    Love, Scully

    Niece's questions reveal massive scam

    By VERA HAFFEY Montana Standard

    ANACONDA - At 101, Una Anderson has her own ideas on serving up justice for two former church elders who stole her life savings of $6 million: lock 'em up in prison - the old territorial prison in Deer Lodge, that is - and throw away the key.

    Then charge tourists a nickel a head so people can see what the white-collar criminals look like.

    That way, she may eventually get back some of the money the pair drained from her bank account in a lengthy, involved "befriend and betray" sting operation, she says.

    Former Jehovah's Witnesses church elders Dale A. Erickson, 53, of Missoula, and Darryl K. Willis, 63, of Helena, pleaded no contest to theft, securities fraud and two counts of conspiracy, all felonies, in Powell County District Court earlier this month in connection with the disappearance of Anderson's trust estate. They await sentencing.

    Their undoing in what prosecutors call "the biggest single theft case in Montana history" was the result of intervention from a family member who noticed something was awry at the Anderson residence, then notified the state's Adult Protective Services.

    Anderson just wasn't herself when her niece paid a visit to the family home, a modest, single-story dwelling on the outskirts Deer Lodge, in September 2001. Instead of her spirited, self-sufficient aunt, Sarah Kelson was greeted by a confused, disoriented woman too addled to recognize her own relatives. To Kelson's surprise, the aging but able-bodied ranch wife who'd also taught school then run the Jens post office and store for some 30 years appeared unable to tend to her daily affairs.

    Strangely, the change hadn't shown up in the regular phone calls Kelson made to Montana to check on her aunt's well-being. Everything seemed fine during those brief conversations.

    But after a trip to her aunt's home, she knew something wasn't right.

    "When I came to visit, I could see that things were going downhill rapidly," Kelson said. "On the phone she said, everything's fine. Not a word about all this stuff that's going on in her life. On the phone, I couldn't tell, but when I got here, I could tell that things were really, really wrong."

    But little by little, Anderson opened up, offering details about people and events of the past few years, including her friendship with a pair of church elders and the coerced sale of the 6,400-acre ranch near Jens where she and her late husband Eric had lived.

    And the whereabouts of the life savings she amassed during nearly a century of Spartan living was unclear.

    "My aunt told me that they had sold her ranch without permission," Kelson said. She dug deeper, and, "everything I found out made things worse."

    After that visit, Kelson grew so concerned that she gave her employer two weeks' notice, left her position at an Arizona college, and moved to Deer Lodge to look after her aunt, who was nearly alone in the world, save a handful of nieces and nephews. Her only son died more than 30 years ago.

    With Kelson's care, Anderson regained her lucidity and began functioning normally in a short time. The signs of "mid-stage dementia" she feared Anderson was suffering vanished.

    To help unravel the story of Anderson's financial exploitation, Kelson called Janel Pliley, a social worker from Adult Protective Services.

    Pliley began an initial investigation after speaking several times with Anderson. She became Anderson's personal advocate, making sure the senior citizen was safe and well cared for. She uncovered enough information to warrant contacting the Powell County sheriff and the county attorney, who expanded the investigation.

    When Powell County Attorney Chris Miller learned of the magnitude of Anderson's loss, and given the limited resources of the county, he asked for help from the state attorney general's office. The office provided the services of two state lawyers - Mark Murphy and Melissa Broch - and Reed Scott, a special investigator from the state Justice Department's Division of Criminal Investigation.

    Willis and Erickson were charged in Powell County District Court in the summer of 2002 in connection with the fleecing of the elderly woman through a series of investment schemes over a seven-year period, beginning in 1995.

    Pliley said part of her job as an advocate is to give "permission" for role reversals where younger family members take on a mentor position, guiding their aging relatives with decisions and care.

    She helped Anderson and her niece through that process, and sparked the criminal investigation.

    It's a scenario often repeated in many families during the aging process, she said.

    "When parents get to the point of incapacity, the parents need their kids to be the parent, and the parent needs to be the kid. They need to be comfortable with that, or it will fall on the shoulders of the state," she said.

    Today, Pliley describes Anderson as "a pistol," witty, bright and alert, yet like many senior citizens, vulnerable to tactics of unscrupulous characters, and in need of intervention and guidance. After months of her niece's care and companionship, Anderson has her spark back.

    She celebrated her 101st birthday at a party earlier this month, and is good-natured, bright and quick to give a witty reply. She also knows what happened to her family fortune, and feels the same emotions that other elderly victims feel after being violated - anger, disappointment and betrayal.

    "She's very well aware of what happened in this case," Kelson said, adding that she believes the problem is common. "Since I've been around Una, I have talked to more and more people and have done research into it. It's a very prevalent thing."

    Pliley said the team effort that began with Kelson's phone call to Adult Protective Services cinched the case.

    "I think this is an excellent example of how all the different agencies work together," Pliley said. "She was lucky to have a niece that could come and change her whole life and be there for her."

    Kelson advised anyone with similar problems to seek out help immediately.

    "The moral of the story is, don't wait so long to call Adult Protective Services," Kelson added. "This is why people really need to pay attention to their older relatives."

    Go and visit in person, because, "just phone contact is not enough."

    Edited by - Scully on 30 December 2002 18:33:20

    Edited by hawkaw - The new url from the archive list is located here:


    Edited by - hawkaw on 31 December 2002 12:22:13

  • Beans

    Well as you all know this won't be a big deal to them at all, perhaps a repenting former elder will be OK! To those who are not JW's it just gives them more reason to slam the door!



  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    A big THANK YOU, Kenneson, for posting this!

    Swan, perhaps my vision is failing me, but I see NOTHING in that article that suggests that the two elders, Dale A. Erickson and Darryl K. Willis were disciplined in ANY WAY. From the evidence at hand, they are still JWs in good standing. For all we know, they may have stepped down from elder responsibilities for reasons that were unrelated to their theft.

    Here's another article:


    Pair guilty of looting estate
    Associated Press

    DEER LODGE (AP) - Two men who posed as concerned church elders pleaded guilty this week to looting a 100-year-old Deer Lodge woman's $6 million trust estate over seven years.

    Dale A. Erickson, 53, of Missoula, and Darryl K. Willis, 63, of Helena, pleaded guilty to identical amended charges of theft, securities fraud and two counts of conspiracy, all felonies.

    A plea agreement recommends a sentence of 25 years in Montana State Prison with 10 years suspended. Powell County attorney Chris Miller said another three years could be suspended if the defendants substantially assist in the recovery of Una Anderson's assets.

    "They will have 90 days to see if they will get some of her money back," Miller said.

    District Judge Ted Mizner ordered a pre-sentence investigation and reduced bond for the pair from $2.5 million to $25,000 each.

    The original complaint against Willis and Erickson says they engaged in the "systematic looting" of Mrs. Anderson's estate by transferring her assets into various trust funds and using the money for their own benefit.

    Prosecutors said Willis and Erickson used false information, poor tax advice and scare tactics to convince Mrs. Anderson to change her investments.

    More than $2 million went to finance an effort to establish Montana's first foreign capital depository, which would offer a place for the super-rich to stash their money similar to Swiss-style and offshore-type banks.

    The case, which Miller called "the single biggest theft case in Montana history," was brought to the attention of Powell County authorities in September 2001, by members of Mrs. Anderson's family and Adult Protective Services.

    Court records show Erickson and Willis were church elders, who allegedly befriended and betrayed Mrs. Anderson, systematically draining her trust estate between 1995 and 2002.

    According to court documents, Una and Eric Anderson amassed their fortune through hard work and a conservative lifestyle. They had a 6,400-acre ranch in Powell County, and Mrs. Anderson ran the post office in Jens for 30 years.

    Until 1995, Mrs. Anderson's assets were held in conservative investment accounts and included the ranch near Jens, Miller said.

    The ranch, appraised in 1995 and $5.3 million, was sold by Willis and Erickson for $4 million in 1999. They did not tell Mrs. Anderson of the sale and paid themselves a $381,000 commission even though neither man held a real estate license.

    Within a year of the sale, only $23,000 of the $4 million remained, authorities said.


    So they discounted this woman's estate by about 28% - probably to make a quick sale - and they took $381,000 of the proceeds for themselves. Did the WTS get the remaining $3,619,000? If not, where'd it go?

    Edited by - Nathan Natas on 30 December 2002 19:59:51

  • Scully

    Hi Nathan Natas:

    Former Jehovah's Witnesses church elders Dale A. Erickson, 53, of Missoula, and Darryl K. Willis, 63, of Helena, pleaded no contest to theft, securities fraud and two counts of conspiracy, all felonies, in Powell County District Court earlier this month in connection with the disappearance of Anderson's trust estate. They await sentencing.

    Whether it means they are former elders, but still JWs or "former JWs" (ie DFd), it's kind of ambiguous.

    Either way, I'd love to follow that money and find out whether it made its way to 24 Columbia Heights, in any way, shape or form.

    Love, Scully

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    Hi Skully,

    I share your curiousity about where the money went.

    You are also correct that the article is ambiguous about their standing in the Christian Congregation Of Jehovah's Witnesses(tm). That's why I offerred compassionate correction to Swan and said the article did not indicate that the two dirt bags were disciplined at all.


    Swan wrote:

    they were elders when the scam took place. Looks like the WTBTS DFed them pretty quick!

    The jw message here is: dont defraud old people. However it is okay to sexually molest young children . . . . ??????

    Sick organization. . . . .

    Soledad wrote:

    the elder set fire to a house they owned next door so he could collect the insurance money

    Hey! May jw dad did that too!!!! And he got away with it. Built a new home fer us yung 'uns. Oh yeah, you can always trust the jws. . . .

    Nathan wrote:

    NOTHING in that article that suggests that the two elders, Dale A. Erickson and Darryl K. Willis were disciplined in ANY WAY

    Give yer head a shake, Nathan. . . . doncha know that if they say, Im sorry in a whiny tone of voice and hang their head, then look up with a pouty lip just so . . . . that they have repented and it will be swept under the rug?????



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