One of two Raleigh men charged with taking part in a fraud scheme that swindled people out of millions of dollars over a three-year period was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle also ordered Ronald Earl McCullough, 45, to pay $1,726,400 in restitution to the victims, according to Stuart Bruce, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
One of the victims lost his family home as a consequence of the fraud, and two others had to back out of contracts to purchase property, according to Bruce.
McCullough and his partner, David Christopher Mayhew, 44, were accused of creating a Ponzi scheme that targeted Christians. Federal agents say the two men were soliciting people in what they described as “an exclusive foreign exchange group.”
Mayhew was sentenced to 26 years in prison for his role in January 2016.
McCullough was charged with conspiracy, wire and mail fraud and other crimes in July 2013 but evaded arrest for nearly three years. FBI agents arrested him at the Perimeter Mall in Atlanta last July. The FBI says he had attempted to disguise his appearance but admitted his identity to the agents.
FBI agents say McCullough portrayed himself as a religious leader and used that angle to get investors to trust him with their life savings and even with property that two victims planned to build a church on. After reviewing bank records, investigators determined McCullough and Mayhew never successfully invested any money.
“For years, Ronald McCullough led a lavish lifestyle using money he swindled from other people,” John Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Charlotte, said in a statement. “When his scheme was exposed, he chose to run rather than face his prison sentence.”