Ex-Conn. church leader sentenced for fraud

Former leader of Trumbull church sentenced to nearly 4 years in prison for fraud

Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- A former Trumbull church leader has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for a scheme that authorities say defrauded investors of nearly $500,000.

Federal prosecutors said Julius C. Blackwelder of North Dakota, formerly of Stratford, was sentenced Thursday in New Haven to 46 months in prison for wire fraud and money laundering offenses.

Blackwelder was bishop of the Bridgeport ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Authorities say the 59-year-old Blackwelder misled investors including church members by saying he would invest their money in safe, long-term commodities futures contracts and, in some cases, guaranteeing a specific return on investment. Prosecutors say he used the money to pay back earlier investors, build himself a waterfront house in Stratford and repay personal bank loans.

Blackwelder sought 18 months, promising to make amends.

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