Christian radio host sentenced to prison for Ponzi scheme
William “Doc” Gallagher, the Christian radio host who called himself the “Money Doctor,” has been sentenced to three life sentences plus 30 years by a Tarrant County judge after pleading guilty to operating a Ponzi scheme that prosecutors allege stole $32 million from elderly listeners.
- Gallagher Financial Group, based in Hurst, ran ads on Christian radio with the tagline “See you in church on Sunday” and Gallagher authored a book called “Jesus Christ, Money Master.”
Why it matters: Many of the scheme's nearly 200 victims are middle-class retirees who lost tens of thousands of dollars in Gallagher’s scheme.
Context: Gallagher, 80, had already been sentenced to 25 years in Dallas County. He will likely die in prison.
Details: Gallagher promised clients a 5-8% percent return on their investment but instead deposited the money into a single account that he controlled. For 10 years, he created fake account statements that showed made-up balances.
What they’re saying: “He ruthlessly stole from his clients who trusted him for almost a decade,” Lori Varnell, chief of the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Elder Financial Fraud team, said in a statement when Gallagher was sentenced. “He worked his way around churches preying on people who believed he was a Christian.”
- Ed Gordon, chief investigator for the Erath County district attorney’s office, lost $175,000. “He knew what my occupation was, and he had the gall to think he could do this with that kind of impunity — and was able to get away with it,” Gordon testified.
- Retired Watauga police officer Steven Hickman testified that he lost $245,000. “We erroneously thought the radio stations vetted these individuals,” he told the court.
- "I don’t trust anybody anymore, except for God and my family," Susan Pippi, another victim, told the court.
What we’re watching: Prosecutors allege that Debra Mae Carter, a woman described in court as Gallagher’s romantic partner, received $1.6 million from Gallagher and used the money to invest in real estate.
- “Miss Carter was not involved in any Ponzi scheme that Doc Gallagher was involved in,” her attorney told the Dallas Morning News.
More Dallas stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Dallas.