Mormon Madoff redux

Sadly, here’s another story of a Madoff-investment scheme run by a Latter-day Saint, Shawn Merriman, who at some point through all this served as a bishop, no less:

Merriman was friendly and down-to-earth. He once got on a plane to fly to a funeral with investors, and took a bunch of his neighbors and friends to a college football game. But he was a disastrous money manager, federal authorities alleged in a complaint unsealed last week, losing $400,000 his first year and turning from legitimate trading to a long-running Ponzi scheme that he held together for nearly 15 years.

The Arapahoe County man promised returns even in bad times, and he delivered, on paper at least. At 46, he had amassed an impressive collection of art — including more than 40 prints by Rembrandt — as well as automobiles, guns and sports memorabilia. He had a great-looking family and a trophy home. He had standing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he was a lay bishop.

But it was all a facade.

This one strikes closer to home, literally — Merriman lives less than 10 miles from where I do, though he’s in an entirely different stake.

We all have business and/or financial struggles from time to time, and we all can make mistakes and miscalculations that hurt ourselves and others, financially or otherwise. But from the newspaper article, it appears that over a period of 15 years, Merriman knowingly defrauded people who trusted him out of close to $20 million dollars — and for many of these people, it was their life savings.  ..bruce..

2 thoughts on “Mormon Madoff redux

  1. I don’t spend a LOT of time trying to get inside the heads of people like this, but I do wonder about them sometimes, and whether anything I’ve ever done could put me on a similar road in some part of my life. I mean, he may have deliberately started out with the intent to deceive, but he probably did not. When he lost money and “turned from legitimate trading,” did he tell himself he would do it “just a little” until he had recouped his losses? Did he ever try to back out, or once he started out did he never look back? Was there ever a point where he might have backed out, perhaps ruining himself financially but maintaining (or re-earning) his integrity and sparing his victims? If there was such a point, was he aware of it when it passed? What did he think at that point?

    I’ll never be in a position where I could remotely mimic his crime, but if I’m not careful — if I were to tell that first lie, or if I were to fudge that first bit of historical data — would I tell myself that it was “just for this emergency,” that I would make things right when I could? Would I know when I had reached the point of no return, and could I stop short of that?

    Better, of course, never to start. Which is why I wonder how he started, and why, and whether he had any idea where it would lead.

  2. This one was very close to home for me, as we were in the same ward, including the entire time he was a bishop. Worse, still, I actually had some involvement in this very venture — not in managing the funds, but merely in helping him with some computer work. Enough that I’m kind of surprised I haven’t heard from the SEC for information (although they probably have all they need), but not enough that I have any concerns of being accountable of any wrongdoing.

    It’s been very jarring for me, personally (which prompted me to leave a comment here). I want to say what I know about the man, but at the same time I’m wondering if what I knew was real or a show, what was genuine and what was false. And that’s a hard thing to have to say about someone who was once your bishop for several years…

Leave a Reply