William Neil Gallagher called himself the Money Doctor. As a charismatic radio host in the Dallas area, he provided Christian-themed financial advice, his voice full of authority and warmth.
âPeople are more important than profits,â he proclaimed during one episode. âThe good Lord made us give unconditional love and accept unconditional love. You need to be sure that you completely trust the financial planner you are working with.
A white-haired octogenarian who signed on with “Meet at Church Sunday” and wrote a book called “Jesus Christ, Master of Money,” “Doc” Gallagher paid his airtime on three stations, using it to promote its services. He has promised âretirement income that you will never surviveâ to those considering investing with him.
However, any confidence in Gallagher’s financial prowess turned out to be misplaced. The 80-year-old Texan confessed to deceiving his clients in what authorities called “a classic Ponzi scheme.” Its companies were shut down by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in March 2019.
On Monday, District Judge Elizabeth Beach sentenced him to three life sentences after pleading guilty to criminal charges in Tarrant County. The punishment follows a 25-year sentence he received after pleading guilty to similar charges in Dallas County.
Authorities say Gallagher’s scheme has brought in millions of dollars to victims aged 62 to 91. Lori Varnell, leader of the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Senior Financial Fraud Team, called him “one of the worst offenders I’ve seen.”
“He ruthlessly robbed his clients who trusted him for nearly a decade,” she said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. âHe’s amassed $ 32 million in losses for all of his clients and has taken advantage of a lot of seniors. He made his way through churches preying on people who thought he was a Christian.
Gallagher, who has been behind bars since his arrest in 2019, has filed a notice of appeal. The lawyer representing him in the appeal process, J. Warren St. John, declined to comment on the case on Tuesday.
During the conviction in Tarrant County, several of Gallagher’s victims described losing tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reported. Some said they had to sell their homes or borrow from their children to make ends meet.
“I’m afraid my money is running out,” Judy Dewitt said, according to the station. “It’s a very scary thing.”
In a âLiving CVâ posted on YouTube, Gallagher introduced himself as a âPremier, True Americanâ on a mission to help others retire comfortably and early. The video described an impressive journey: stint in the Peace Corps, Ph.D. at Brown University and experience as a broker in New York City.
He said he “ditched Big Broker and developed my own business” after feeling called upon to educate financially and hold the public accountable. Appearing in the video, he lamented that Americans now too easily give up on themselves and look to others to solve their problems.
âFreedom requires education and empowerment and I educate and empower clients,â said Gallagher. “Less government, more personal responsibility and, with God’s help, a better world.”
Through his companies, the Gallagher Financial Group and the W. Neil Gallagher, Ph.D. Agency, he has offered and sold securities, raising millions from at least 60 investors, the SEC wrote in a statement. complaint. This is despite “the lack of valid identifying information in the securities industry” and contact in 2009 with the Texas State Securities Board, which berated him for engaging in fraudulent business practices.
Gallagher promised “guaranteed and risk-free returns ranging from 5 to 8% per annum”. Contrary to these promises, he did not use investor funds to buy securities; instead, according to authorities, he used it to pay other clients and to cover salaries, radio costs and other personal expenses.
When investigators searched Gallagher’s offices at the time of his arrest, they discovered that he did not have a computer or an accounting system. Court-appointed receiver Cortney C. Thomas described parts of the building as messy, filing photographs showing desks littered with piles of boxes, documents and personal effects.
âOver a decade of business and unopened mail files are scattered and piled haphazardly across the office,â he wrote in a report filed in April 2019.
His bank accounts contained less than $ 1 million, a fraction of the amount he received from investors. He was “not truthful” about some of his assets, Thomas wrote, and withheld the existence of an office in Hurst, Texas until he was discovered by authorities.
Authorities seized property and other assets belonging to Gallagher and others associated with him in an attempt to return money to investors.
But those who lost hard-earned savings said they continued to suffer financial and emotional damage years after the arrest.
“I don’t trust anyone anymore,” victim Susan Pippi said in court Monday, according to CBS Dallas-Fort Worth, “except God and my family.”