Preacher's Assets Frozen in Alleged Securities Violation Case

by Mark Friedman  on Friday, Apr. 19, 2013 4:49 pm  

A Pulaski County Circuit judge on Friday froze the assets of an associate pastor at the St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Smith in connection with a $61,500 investment scheme that he allegedly orchestrated.

Thomas E. James of Fayetteville denied the accusations in an interview with Arkansas Business.

James, who was a broker-dealer for Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc. between 2006 and 2008, persuaded a church member to invest at least $61,500 in a U.S. Treasury bond fund "that did not actually exist," according to a news release from the Arkansas Securities Department. "James fabricated an account statement through TJames Investments showing that the investor was earning a 23.9 percent quarterly return on her investment."

Instead, James allegedly blew through the money on himself for "meals, entertainment, clothing, jewelry, electronics and vacations," the news release said.

At the request of the Arkansas Securities Department, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice S. Gray ordered James and his TJames Investments Services to stop committing violations of the Arkansas Securities Act and not to destroy any evidence related to the case until a hearing could be held. Gray also agreed to freeze James' assets until a hearing could be held.

"I didn't do this at all," James said Friday afternoon. "It's a misunderstanding."

He said someone at the investor's bank took "something out of context" and the investigation started without her knowledge.  

The investor is "correcting that at this moment," James said.

The Arkansas Securities Department was unavailable for comment late Friday afternoon.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.