In August 2009, former Mormon church lay bishop Shawn Merriman earned Shmuck of the Week honors for Ponzi scheming millions from friends and acquaintances. But yesterday, he was awarded with an even more richly deserved prize: a twelve-and-a-half-year prison jolt, plus an order to pay $20.1 million in restitution.
Will the goodies the feds have taken go toward that total?
Here's a list of seized items supplied by the U.S. Attorneys Office in December, when Merriman pleaded guilty to mail fraud:
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• 157 pieces of Old Masters Fine Art, located at Merriman's residence in Aurora
• 170 pieces of contemporary art, also located at Merriman's residence
• 43 pieces of framed fine art, 4 bronze busts, and one acrylic sculpture, located at Merriman's residence
• Merriman's residence, located in Aurora, Colorado
• Other real property, located in Island Park, Idaho
• Numerous conveyances, including vehicles, collectible cars, motorcycles, a boat, a motor home, trailers, and a John Deere Bobcat
• 8 E*Trade securities accounts
• Sports memorabilia
• Other personal property, including exercise equipment, arcade games, tools, hunting paraphernalia, safes, and a pitching machine
Yesterday's sentencing hearing was reportedly an emotional marathon, with many of those who Merriman admits to bilking either attending or testifying about the damage he did to their lives. His acts may not have been on the scale of king Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, but he certainly caused terrible harm to those whose investments he raided.
Look below to see a 2009 Channel 4 report that puts Merriman's crimes in perspective: