Money Raised for Bibles Allegedly Used for Sports Gambling

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Posted on: August 1, 2023, 07:57h. 

Last updated on: August 1, 2023, 08:02h.

A man is being sought after some of the $32M he raised in a massive fundraising effort wound up being spent on gambling. He claimed it would go for Bibles and Christian literature in China.

Jill E. Steinberg
Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, pictured above. She announced the indictment of a man who allegedly misused money raised for religious outreach. (Image: Law.com)

About $1M of the loot was spent on an online sports gambling website, feds said. Other money from the scheme allegedly was spent on personal items or invested.

The suspect, Jason Gerald Shenk, 45, formerly of Dublin, Ga., was indicted on 37 federal counts.

A recently unsealed indictment reveals he is charged with four counts of wire fraud. Shenk also is charged with three counts of international concealment money laundering, 13 counts of concealment money laundering, and 21 counts of money laundering involving transactions greater than $10,000.

He also was charged with a single count of failure to file a report of a foreign bank account.

The scheme targeted charities and people living in Ohio, North Carolina and other locations. They thought the money they donated would be used for Christian outreach, mainly the publishing and distribution of Bibles and other religious literature for people living in China.

But much of the money went to various shell corporations between April 2010 and July 2019.

Shenk raised about $22M from one charitable organization and its donors, prosecutors claim.  Also, some $10 million was raised from another charity and its donors, prosecutors add.

Shenk also gave up his U.S. citizenship in 2016 to avoid financial reporting requirements.

If convicted on the charges he faces up to 20 years in prison, forfeiture of any property involved in or traceable to the offenses, financial penalties, and supervised release after being released from prison, Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, said this week.

When people of faith donate money for evangelistic purposes, they reasonably expect those who solicit their donations to act as faithful stewards of those funds,” Steinberg said in a statement.

“This case alleges an egregious breach of that trust at the expense of multiple charities and individual donors.”

Shenk “has held himself out as a Christian missionary dedicated to various Christian mission projects around the world, including in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China, among other countries,” the indictment claims.

Investment Details

About $850K was invested in a privately-held nuclear energy company, about $4 million was used to purchase 16 or more life insurance policies, and about $1M was spent on buying diamonds, gold, and precious metals.

Also, about $7M was rerouted to the company running Shenk’s family farm, more than $820K was used to purchase items via credit cards, and $320K was spent on real estate in Santiago, Chile.

In addition, more than $188K was spent to buy domestic and foreign stocks.

Victim Information

Federal authorities ask that those who believe they were defrauded by Shenk to contact officials at 478-752-6810.

If anyone has information on his current whereabouts, the feds ask that they use the same number to notify officials with that information.

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