The Plain Ponzi Scheme: Feds Charge “The Amish Bernie Madoff”

Monroe Beachy, 77, is being call the Amish Bernie Madoff after being accused of running a Ponzi scheme that lost millions from his Amish community.

Beachy of Sugarcreek, Holmes County, Ohio, collected tens of millions of dollars from Amish families after taking a course at H&R Block. He only has a tenth grade education. He has only been charged with one count of mail fraud. He collected an impressive $33 million since 1990. Families suffered an average loss of $13,000.
It will be interesting to see how the Ponzi allegation is laid out in trial. Beachy had lost half of the money — $16.8 million — and was paying off older customers by collecting money from new customers. However, the indictment below is conspicuously vague. It charges such things as investing in areas that were not as “safe” as advertised. That does not make a Ponzi scheme. If Beachy continued to invest and was trying to make whole his investors, I am not sure this is a true Ponzi scheme which suggests simply shifting money from new customers to old customers without generating new investment profit.

The worst allegation is the issuance of false interest and investments reports. However, once again, the indictment is exceptionally and unusually vague on such critical points.

Here is the complaint: beachy-indictment

Source: Cleveland

18 thoughts on “The Plain Ponzi Scheme: Feds Charge “The Amish Bernie Madoff”

  1. This is a rare controversy….I read the article and have a couple of questions…It said something about the community be a two hour drive….now is that by horse and buggy…or car?

    If he is convicted will he be taken to a jail or a stockade….Will transportation be via horse and buggy or vehicle….

    I also note from the article that most of the folks would rather settle this matter without court intervention/secular community….Why not….How did it get to this level? Who is the complaining victim….some creditor outside the Amish community…

  2. I had a cousin who was a bank official in the heart of Mid-Western Amish country. He was telling us that the Amish in the area were generating a lot of resentment because they were buying up all the best farm land & happily paid more than other farmers could “way more than it was worth no matter how much you could grow on it”.

    I asked him how they paid for it & he said “in cash!” but he had no idea where they kept this – often millions of dollars – since it was not in any local bank. He was really worried that as the farm economy got worse the Amish could be targeted for home invasion robberies.

  3. I unintentionally went through an Amish area in Indiana recently, when I left the toll road, US80, for US20. Middlebury struck me as lovely. Twice I made u-turns to go back to check out places I passed. The economy in general looked fine, can’t say how the farmers felt….

  4. I did not mean to imply that the Amish were in anyway harming the farm economy. Just that there was a lot of anger among non-Amish farmers, mostly because they were willing to spend $3k/acre for land that would only draw $2k on the open market if they wanted it.

    Some of the “English” tend to blame them for price inflation on land. His concern was that, as a disliked minority, they were blamed for a lot of troubles & if they really did have large amounts of cash hidden as was often rumored they could easily become victims.

    Stories like this would tend to make people believe they do have a lot of cash on hand.

  5. I live about 1/2 hour drive (car AY) north of this area and we often go there for antique and food shopping. The Holmes County and southern Wayne County area are supposedly the largest concentration of amish in the country. In the past 15 years it has become a destination attraction for tourists including bus tours. All sorts of handicraft shops, B&Bs, restaurants etc. It is obvious that there is a reserve of money available. The amish farms have been in the families for generations and therefore paid for. Often the farm has a wood shop specializing in furniture. Many non-amish businesses carry amish names such as Troyer and Yoder. These are probably Amish decendents who were ‘jumpers” (those that jumped the fence, left the order). A short drive through the area will convince you that a 13K loss is, in most cases, not devastating. The social relationship between Amish and English, including the government, is complicated as independant “churches” set their own rules.

  6. Their culture is often confused with their version of religion. Not unusual for them to be atrociously inhumane to animals in the name of profit and keeping “with the old way”. Difficult for inspectors to observe in the closed community. Many puppy mills are Amish.

  7. (sarcasm ‘on)

    I’m glad to see that the Justice department still has time to go after these relatively small-time crooks what wit all the work they’re doing to bring the architects of the near-collapse of the U S economy to justice. 33 mil isn’t anything to sneer at but I’m sure that the hundreds of billions looted by Wall Street would keep our US Attys. so busy that a case like this would hardly register on their radar unless they were scrupulous about doing their work. Heck of a job Eric, heck of a job!

    (sarcasm ‘off’)

  8. Both of my daughters attended week-long summer camp for 6 years at an Amish farm. No electricity which meant no television or radio and no cameras allowed. They baked bread, milked cows, churned butter, made jelly, pickles, ketchup etc. They attended livestock auctions, sheep shearings, and learned to use a spinning wheel. They helped build barns and repair buggies. No shorts or sleeveless tops were allowed. They kept journals complete with colored drawings done with wildflowers and grass.

    Tex would joke that we were paying money so they could go off and work all day but the kids loved it. They learned some valuable lessons about appreciating and respecting other people’s culture.

  9. Blouise: “Tex would joke that we were paying money so they could go off and work all day but the kids loved it.”


    My grandfather would remark about my grandmothers quilt-making that it seemed strange to buy or trade big pieces of cloth to cut up into small pieces of cloth to sew up into a big piece of cloth.

    There is a certain fundamental and practical elegance to both of their thought process’. Both possess a flair for the ironic fer’sure.

  10. Blouise: “Tex would joke that we were paying money so they could go off and work all day but the kids loved it. They learned some valuable lessons about appreciating and respecting other people‚Äôs culture.”


    My grandfather would remark about my grandmother’s quilt-making that it seemed odd to buy or trade large pieces of cloth to cut up into little pieces of cloth only to sew them up into a large piece of cloth.

    Tex and the gran’pa have (had in GPaws case) a fine appreciation of irony.

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