Jury convicts ex-pastor for luring investors to illegal hedge fund

Rocky Mountain News/January 12, 2008

A jury on Friday found former Colorado Springs pastor Doug Scott guilty of fraud for his role in recommending a hedge fund that left hundreds of investors, many of them churchgoers, with millions of dollars of losses.

Scott, who once led worship at an evangelical church, now faces prison time. He is scheduled to be sentenced in early March.

Scott, 48, was accused of luring investors into an unlicensed hedge fund firm, XL Capital, led by businessman Hamilton Alan Bird. Authorities alleged that Scott was given $780,000 in referral fees but did not disclose how much he was to be paid or whether he had a license to act as a broker in Colorado.

The jury reached a decision after a few hours of deliberation. The trial of Scott, former pastor of the now-defunct River of Life Church, began Monday.

Scott's lawyer, Terry Rector, did not return two telephone calls, one earlier this week and another on Friday.

Bird's trial, which has been delayed, is now scheduled for March 31. Another colleague, David Newton, is serving probation.

Attorney General John Suthers announced the conviction. The Colorado Division of Securities initially filed civil fraud charges in early 2005 claiming that 400 investors from inside and outside the church community had entrusted roughly $24 million to Bird's Vision Fund.

Ultimately, about $12 million was lost, authorities said.

Bird's Christian connections gave investors faith. Investors said Scott and Bird's father- in-law, the former president of the Christian nonprofit Bethesda Ministries, eased any concerns they may have had.

Bird also had a history of legal and financial problems, including two prior felony convictions, a bankruptcy and fines for operating in the insurance business in Nevada and Colorado without a license.

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