Does A Church Receiving Dirty Money Cleanse It, Or Can Only The Government Do That?

I can see why that $300,000 didn't last long...

I can see why that $300,000 didn’t last long…

For some divine reason it appears to be church day at Ethics Alarms, though I attribute much of the phenomenon  to my #1 topic scout Fred, who has been on fire of late.

David McQueen was the architect of a ruthless $46 million Ponzi scheme. While filling his own bank account, he also gave generously to Resurrection Life Church in Grandville, Michigan, one of the so-called “mega-churches,” as you can see in the photo above. McQueen donated about $300,000 in a three-year period, beginning in 2006, when the church was involved in a building project. See? He wasn’t so bad!

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Borgula is involved in effort to reimburse victims by recovering some of the money taken by McQueen. The $300,000 looked like a nice chunk to go after, so he sent an e-mail to the church elders asking, pretty please, if they would give the money back.

The church said “No.” Continue reading

The Ethics Scrooge On The Starbucks Pay-It-Forward Ponzi Scheme


The Ethics Scrooge here.

If you think I’m going to get all misty eyed about the “random acts of kindness” fun and games Florida Starbucks customers have been amusing themselves with lately,  you are sadly mistaken.

The happy-talk story of the week—and I admit, the nation needed one—concerned a St. Petersburg, Florida Starbucks where an early morning customer at the drive-through window decided to “pay it forward” and buy coffee for the next person in line.That customer emulated the spirit of the Kevin Spacey weepie,  and bought a drink for the next person in line at the drive-through, and so it continued throughout the day, with 378 customers purchasing drinks for the strangers in line behind them, a so-called altruism chain that lasted 11 hours.

Awww. Continue reading

I Wonder…What Would It Take To Get Fired From the SEC?

Keep up the way you’re going, guys. You’ll drive me to “Occupy D.C.” yet.

Do you think The Donald would be willing to run the SEC? At least he knows how to fire someone.

Eight Security and Exchange Commission employees were demoted, docked pay, suspended or otherwise disciplined for their role in the agency’s rank incompetence that allowed Bernard Madoff to steal billions of dollars and destroy lives and charities despite the timely warning of a persistent whistleblower, and more red flags than a bullfight. Yet despite mismanagement of epic and disgraceful proportions, the SEC couldn’t bring itself to fire anyone.

This is the state of accountability in today’s America. Run a corporation into the ground, lose the jobs of thousands, and take a mega-million dollar parting gift. Accept a bribe while you are serving as a State Senator, and not only keep your job, but get acquitted by a jury on the theory that you are too stupid to understand that what you were doing was a crime. Now the SEC’s response to an almost unimaginable breach of diligence in investment oversight by its staff doesn’t involve getting rid of a single one of the individuals responsible—even the individual deemed the most culpable, whose termination was recommended by the agency’s lawyers.

Why, you ask? Continue reading

Gov. Perry, Social Security, and Condemning the Truth

He speaks the truth! STONE HIM!!!!

In the Bizarro World that is American politics, Gov. Rick Perry was deemed to have stumbled not at all when he spoke of his skepticism about evolution, because a depressing number of Americans are cheered by the delusion that humans were created in a god-like image 10,000 years ago, despite all evidence to the contrary. But Perry is now seen as making a possibly fatal blunder in his presidential aspirations by telling the truth. Stranger yet, the truth Perry told is an essential one that must be acknowledged to address America’s financial ills, and identifying problems is what leaders are supposed to do. Never mind. People don’t want to believe it, so speaking this truth is “wrong.”

The statement Perry made that has Republicans, Democrats and the media in a dither is that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Continue reading

The Conflict of Interest That Isn’t, But Looks Terrible Anyway

David Becker, the top lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission, is suddenly an embarrassment to his employers. He and his two brothers inherited more than $1.5 million in phony profits from their mother’s investment in $65 billion Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Since the S.E.C. was famously asleep at its post regarding Madoff, its negligence and incompetence allowing him to destroy individual lives, charities and more, having a key lawyer at the regulatory agency profit from Madoff’s scheme, even by inheritance, looks corrupt and unconscionable.  Continue reading