NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A former Mormon bishop has pleaded not guilty to charges he cheated investors including members of his congregation out of more than $400,000.
Julius Blackwelder of Utah, who was bishop of the Bridgeport ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court in New Haven. He is accused of using the money to pay back earlier investors in the pyramid scheme, build a waterfront home in Stratford and repay personal bank loans.
Authorities say the 59-year-old Blackwelder misled investors by saying he would invest their money in safe, long-term commodities futures contracts and, in some cases, guaranteeing a specific return on investment.
Blackwelder is charged with money laundering and mail and wire fraud.