Score:   1
Docket Number:   ED-PA  5:20-cr-00048
Case Name:   USA v. RIEHL
  Press Releases:
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Philip Elvin Riehl, 68, of Bethel Township, Berks County, PA, was sentenced to 120 months in prison, three years supervised release, and was ordered to pay $59,688,297 in restitution and $59,688,297 in forfeiture by United States District Judge Edward G. Smith for orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme that targeted members of the Mennonite and Amish religious communities in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Riehl was also ordered to forfeit two pieces of real estate, $22 million in loans receivable and $1.145 million in payments.

In February 2020, Riehl pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, and one count of wire fraud. The defendant, a Berks County–based accountant, fraudulently solicited tens of millions of dollars in investments from his accounting clients and others (who are mostly members of the Mennonite or Amish communities) into an investment program that he operated.

Riehl then diverted funds from the program to Trickling Springs Creamery, LLC, a Franklin County–based creamery of which he was the majority owner. Riehl also fraudulently solicited direct investments in Trickling Springs Creamery. The defendant made material misrepresentations about the safety and security of these investments in his program and about the performance of the program, as well as misrepresentations and omissions about the creamery’s business and financial condition. Trickling Springs Creamery announced it was ceasing operations in September 2019 and filed a bankruptcy petition in December 2019. Investor losses are estimated to be around $60 million, making this one of the largest Pennsylvania-based Ponzi schemes ever.

The entire scheme is what is commonly referred to as “affinity fraud,” which typically involves investment scams that prey upon members of identifiable groups, such as religious or ethnic communities. These types of scams exploit the trust and friendship that exist in groups of people who share common interests or beliefs.

“The people who invested their money, sometimes their entire life’s savings, with Philip Riehl believed implicitly that they could trust him because he was one of their own,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Riehl preyed upon that trust, swindling them out of tens of millions of dollars in an effort to keep his creamery business from going under. No matter what community they belong to, fraudsters like Riehl must be held accountable under the law for justice to prevail.”

“While no form of fraud is ever acceptable, it takes a particularly vile person to target their own religious community,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Philip Riehl’s investors knew him and they took him at his word. He fully exploited that trust, misleading them repeatedly, with some $60 million of their hard-earned money disappearing into what proved nothing more than a giant Ponzi scheme. While we can never make his victims whole financially or emotionally, today he is being held accountable and that is some measure of justice for those he’s wronged.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Rinaldi. The U.S. Attorney’s Office appreciates the assistance of the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Philip Elvin Riehl, 68, of Bethel Township, Berks County, PA, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges related to a Ponzi scheme he operated worth approximately $60 million. The fraud targeted members of the Mennonite and Amish religious communities in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, of which the defendant is a member.

The defendant was charged in January 2020 with one count each of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, and one count of wire fraud. Riehl, a Berks County–based accountant, fraudulently solicited tens of millions of dollars in investments, from his accounting clients and others who are mostly Mennonite or Amish, into an investment program that he operated.

Riehl then diverted funds from the program to Trickling Springs Creamery, LLC, a Franklin County–based creamery of which he was the majority owner. Riehl also fraudulently solicited direct investments in Trickling Springs Creamery. The defendant made material misrepresentations about the safety and security of these investments in his program and about the performance of the program, as well as misrepresentations and omissions about the creamery’s business and financial condition. Trickling Springs Creamery announced it was ceasing operations in September 2019 and filed a bankruptcy petition in December 2019. Investor losses are estimated to be around $60 million, making this one of the largest Pennsylvania-based Ponzi schemes ever.

The entire scheme is what is commonly referred to as “affinity fraud,” which typically involves investment scams that prey upon members of identifiable groups, such as religious or ethnic communities. These types of scams exploit the trust and friendship that exist in groups of people who share common interests or beliefs.

“Riehl’s victims trusted him to handle their investments with honesty and integrity. Instead, he took advantage of their trust based on their mutual religious affiliation,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “In some cases, the defendant swindled individuals out of millions of dollars. It is only natural for members of a tightly knit community to want to take care of one another, but Riehl wasn’t concerned with taking care of anyone but himself and he doesn’t deserve the loyalty of his victims now. These types of devastating crimes must be reported, and the guilty parties must be held accountable under the law.”

“Investment fraud can be devastating for its victims, with nest eggs or even life savings lost in a flash,” said Tara A. McMahon, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “When criminals are willing to exploit trusting members of their own church or community in such a way, it adds significant insult to that financial injury. Philip Riehl repeatedly misled his investors, drawing them into a giant Ponzi scheme that swallowed up some $60 million of their money. The FBI is gratified to help hold him accountable for his crimes and bring some measure of justice for his victims.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Rinaldi. The U.S. Attorney’s Office appreciates the assistance of the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Philip Elvin Riehl, 68, of Bethel Township, Berks County, PA, was charged by Information with conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud, stemming from an investigation into a Ponzi scheme worth approximately $60 million. The alleged fraud targeted members of the Mennonite and Amish religious communities in Pennsylvania and elsewhere and is one of the largest Pennsylvania-based alleged Ponzi schemes in history.

Riehl, an accountant, is alleged to have fraudulently solicited tens of millions of dollars in investments, from his accounting clients and others, into a bogus investment program that he operated. Riehl then diverted funds from the program to Trickling Springs Creamery, LLC, a Franklin County–based creamery of which he was the majority owner. Riehl also fraudulently solicited direct investments in Trickling Springs Creamery. The Information further alleges that Riehl made material misrepresentations about the safety and security of these investments in his program and about the performance of the program, as well as misrepresentations and omissions about the creamery’s business and financial condition. Trickling Springs Creamery announced it was ceasing operations in September 2019 and filed a bankruptcy petition in December 2019.

The allegations constitute what is sometimes referred to as “affinity fraud,” which typically involves investment scams that prey upon members of identifiable groups, such as religious or ethnic communities. These types of scams exploit the trust and friendship that exist in groups of people who share common interests or beliefs. The victims of Riehl’s alleged scheme were generally members of the Mennonite or Amish religious communities who wanted a safe and secure investment, operated within their community and in a manner consistent with their religious principles. The charges note that Riehl was a co-religionist in the Mennonite religious community.

 “These investors were looking for honesty and integrity when deciding where and with whom to invest their money,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “According to the Information, Riehl presented himself as a trusted member of their religious community, only to betray that trust and swindle them out of tens of millions of dollars. It is only natural for members of a tightly knit community to want to take care of one another, but Riehl did not care about anyone but himself. Fraudsters must be held accountable under the law – no matter what community they belong to – for justice to prevail.”

“So long as there are people with money to invest, there will be swindlers ready to take their money under false pretenses,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “But it is particularly loathsome when these criminals exploit trusting members of their own church or community. According to the Information, Philip Riehl repeatedly misrepresented what he was doing with his investors’ money – people who took him at his word. The FBI will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who engage in such financial fraud.”

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 45 years in prison, a $5,500,000 fine, a 3-year term of supervised release, forfeiture, and mandatory restitution.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Rinaldi. The U.S. Attorney’s Office appreciates the assistance of the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Docket (0 Docs):   https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10PcXtRWskDnEQBby7cSIIc9aRB_MITSbECmVHV96Ric/edit#gid=0
  Last Updated: 2021-05-29 01:15:51 UTC
Description: The fiscal year of the data file obtained from the AOUSC
Format: YYYY

Description: The code of the federal judicial circuit where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: The code of the federal judicial district where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: The code of the district office where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: Docket number assigned by the district to the case
Format: A7

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a case which cannot be modified by the court
Format: A3

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a case which can be modified by the court
Format: A3

Description: A sequential number indicating whether a case is an original proceeding or a reopen
Format: N5

Description: Case type associated with the current defendant record
Format: A2

Description: A concatenation of district, office, docket number, case type, defendant number, and reopen sequence number
Format: A18

Description: A concatenation of district, office, docket number, case type, and reopen sequence number
Format: A15

Description: The status of the defendant as assigned by the AOUSC
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the fugitive status of a defendant
Format: A1

Description: The date upon which a defendant became a fugitive
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which a fugitive defendant was taken into custody
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date when a case was first docketed in the district court
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which proceedings in a case commenced on charges pending in the district court where the defendant appeared, or the date of the defendant’s felony-waiver of indictment
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: A code used to identify the nature of the proceeding
Format: N2

Description: The date when a defendant first appeared before a judicial officer in the district court where a charge was pending
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: A code indicating the event by which a defendant appeared before a judicial officer in the district court where a charge was pending
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the type of legal counsel assigned to a defendant
Format: N2

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE1
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE1
Format: A3

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the second highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE2
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE2
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE2
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE2
Format: A3

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the third highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE3
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Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE3
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE3
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE3
Format: A3

Description: The FIPS code used to indicate the county or parish where an offense was committed
Format: A5

Description: The date of the last action taken on the record
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which judicial proceedings before the court concluded
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which the final sentence is recorded on the docket
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which the case was closed
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The number of days from the earlier of filing date or first appearance date to proceeding date
Format: N3

Description: The number of days from proceeding date to disposition date
Format: N3

Description: The number of days from disposition date to sentencing date
Format: N3

Description: The code of the district office where the case was terminated
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the type of legal counsel assigned to a defendant at the time the case was closed
Format: N2

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense that carried the most severe disposition and penalty under which the defendant was disposed
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with TTITLE1
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with TTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with TTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with TTITLE1
Format: A3

Description: The code indicating the nature or type of disposition associated with TTITLE1
Format: N2

Description: The number of months a defendant was sentenced to prison under TTITLE1
Format: N4

Description: A code indicating whether the prison sentence associated with TTITLE1 was concurrent or consecutive in relation to the other counts in the indictment or information or multiple counts of the same charge
Format: A4

Description: The number of months of probation imposed upon a defendant under TTITLE1
Format: N4

Description: A period of supervised release imposed upon a defendant under TTITLE1
Format: N3

Description: The fine imposed upon the defendant at sentencing under TTITLE1
Format: N8

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense under which the defendant was disposed that carried the second most severe disposition and penalty
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with TTITLE2
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with TTITLE2
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with TTITLE2
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with TTITLE2
Format: A3

Description: The code indicating the nature or type of disposition associated with TTITLE2
Format: N2

Description: The number of months a defendant was sentenced to prison under TTITLE2
Format: N4

Description: A code indicating whether the prison sentence associated with TTITLE2 was concurrent or consecutive in relation to the other counts in the indictment or information or multiple counts of the same charge
Format: A4

Description: The number of months of probation imposed upon a defendant under TTITLE2
Format: N4

Description: A period of supervised release imposed upon a defendant under TTITLE2
Format: N3

Description: The fine imposed upon the defendant at sentencing under TTITLE2
Format: N8

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense under which the defendant was disposed that carried the third most severe disposition and penalty
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with TTITLE3
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with TTITLE3
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with TTITLE3
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with TTITLE3
Format: A3

Description: The code indicating the nature or type of disposition associated with TTITLE3
Format: N2

Description: The number of months a defendant was sentenced to prison under TTITLE3
Format: N4

Description: A code indicating whether the prison sentence associated with TTITLE3 was concurrent or consecutive in relation to the other counts in the indictment or information or multiple counts of the same charge
Format: A4

Description: The number of months of probation imposed upon a defendant under TTITLE3
Format: N4

Description: A period of supervised release imposed upon a defendant under TTITLE3
Format: N3

Description: The fine imposed upon the defendant at sentencing under TTITLE3
Format: N8

Description: The total prison time for all offenses of which the defendant was convicted and prison time was imposed
Format: N4

Description: The total fine imposed at sentencing for all offenses of which the defendant was convicted and a fine was imposed
Format: N8

Description: A count of defendants filed including inter-district transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants filed excluding inter-district transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of original proceedings commenced
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants filed whose proceedings commenced by reopen, remand, appeal, or retrial
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated including interdistrict transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated excluding interdistrict transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of original proceedings terminated
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated whose proceedings commenced by reopen, remand, appeal, or retrial
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants pending as of the last day of the period including long term fugitives
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants pending as of the last day of the period excluding long term fugitives
Format: N1

Description: The source from which the data were loaded into the AOUSC’s NewSTATS database
Format: A10

Description: A sequential number indicating the iteration of the defendant record
Format: N2

Description: The date the record was loaded into the AOUSC’s NewSTATS database
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: Statistical year ID label on data file obtained from the AOUSC which represents termination year
Format: YYYY

Data imported from FJC Integrated Database
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