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United States v. Bakker

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
925 F.2d 728 (1991)


Facts

James Bakker (defendant) was a well-known televangelist who announced plans to build a Christian retreat center and solicited funding from his viewers through a “lifetime partnership” contribution hierarchy. Several of the partnership levels promised annual lodging benefits at the retreat center. Bakker promised to limit the sale of partnerships to 25,000 but actually sold nearly 67,000. Rather than apply the partnership funds to constructing the retreat center, Bakker spent the majority on operating his televangelism network and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle. Baker was indicted and tried on fraud charges. Bakker was convicted on 24 counts. At Bakker’s sentencing hearing, the judge commented, “He had no thought whatever about his victims and those of us who do have a religion are ridiculed as being saps from money-grubbing preachers or priests.” Bakker appealed the court’s sentence of 45 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wilkins, J.)

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