"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)
[Names have been changed.]
Gianni Pretzel is a well-known JW elder in a North Fort Worth congregation who never could seem to make a decent living or manage his money well. When his father died, Gianni Pretzel persuaded his widowed mother to allow him and his wife, Jakki Pretzel, to move into her home which was completely paid for. After moving in, Gianni Pretzel persuaded his mother to put the house in his name, promising her that he would take care of her for the rest of her life. Once the house was in his name, however, Gianni Pretzel proceeded to take out a huge loan, using his mother's home as collateral. He also borrowed large amounts of money from his fellow JWs, promising to pay it back with interest. He went through all that money, finding it impossible to pay back the bank loan as well as the money borrowed from friends. The bank foreclosed on his mother's home, Gianni Pretzel filed for bankruptcy, and all the JWs who had lent him money were listed among his creditors who would never get a dime of their money back. His reputation completely ruined, Gianni Pretzel and his wife moved to another city far away, leaving his widowed mother to fend for herself; however, Gianni Pretzel maintained his status as a JW elder.
Some years later, Gianni Pretzel and his wife moved back to their former congregation territory and rented a house with Gianni Pretzel's mother and sister. Before long, his mother and sister found living with Gianni Pretzel to be unbearable. Gianni Pretzel's's cousin, Willy, had a 4-bedroom home, and Gianni Pretzel's mother and sister asked Willy if they could move into his home and pay him rent. Willy agreed, and they lived in his home for 18 years. It just so happened that Gianni Pretzel's sister had a female roommate (they acted more like a married couple than roommates) who was also Willy's business partner and she, too, moved into the home with Gianni Pretzel's sister and mother.
Eighteen years after Gianni Pretzel's mother and sister moved in with him, Willy died. While he had three children who were legal heirs, Willy had left no will. The day after Willy died, Gianni Pretzel, his mother and sister and the sister's roommate (Willy's business partner) went to Willy's bank, emptied his bank account and put Willy's house in the names of Gianni Pretzel's mother and sister, and Gianni Pretzel and his wife moved into the house with them. They claimed that the money Gianni Pretzel's mother and sister and sister's roommate had paid Willy monthly over that 18 years was not for rent, but that they had been buying the house from Willy. Willy's daughter and her husband, both of whom were JWs, hired an attorney to recover Willy's house and his life savings. Gianni Pretzel visited them in their home and gave them his word--as an elder and as a man--that he, his wife, and his mother and sister and sister's roommate would evacuate the house by the end of the week. The very next day, however, Gianni Pretzel filed bankruptcy again, and it took Willy's daughter five years to have them successfully evicted from her father's home and to reclaim what was left of his life savings.
At the time of Willy's death, there was around $150,000 to be split among Willy's three heirs. By the time Gianni Pretzel and the others were evicted, there remained a mere $15,000 after lawyer's fees. To this day, Gianni Pretzel remains a well-known elder in a North Fort Worth congregation. He and his wife are known to jump onto every multi-level marketing scheme that comes along, recruiting their fellow JWs. Gianni Pretzel was once overheard saying that one's Christian brothers are supposed to be willing to die for one, but as soon as one takes their money, they will drop one like a hot potato.