Some elderly victims and their relatives lashed out at Passion for Truth Ministries Pastor Jim Stanley, 40, in a St. Louis, Missouri, court Wednesday, calling him words like "sick, manipulative and deceitful" as he was sentenced to seven years in federal prison and pay $3.3 million in restitution to the investors he defrauded in an investment scam.
Staley pleaded guilty in April to four counts of fraud and confessed that he cheated others in the investment scam from which he made $570,000, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The pastor's elderly victims, some of whom were slipping into dementia when he preyed on them, said they trusted him because he professed his Christian faith and family values, only to discover that he's a "disgusting and sickening criminal."
Staley, who has appeared on multiple Christian TV networks and leads a congregation of about 200 people, could have gotten up to 11 ¼ years, but U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber only sentenced him to seven years because of his solid marriage and home life, lack of a criminal record or any drug or alcohol abuse.
The judge, however, felt that Staley showed "very little interest so far in making restitution" and played down his crime, repeatedly insisting in a 2013 video "I was not conning little old ladies out of their money." When he was eventually indicted in 2014 he blamed investor loss on a bad economy.
So far he has only repaid $1,950 of the required restitution even though he gets a church salary of $127,000 and lives rent free in a $1 million home.
He reportedly held back tears in court Wednesday as he vowed that he would pay back his victims their money because his "faith requires it."
In a message to his supporters posted on his Facebook page in May, Staley wrote: "Although this is no doubt a difficult time, we are confident in the one who began a good work is faithful and just to finish it. My life has always been in His hands and I consider it pure joy to go through this time of testing. Trials are only interviews in disguise. And sometimes God gives us trials to test everyone else as well. Everyone is being tested. But not everyone knows it. May God find us all pure in heart with clean hands when the last sun sets."
On Wednesday, many of them showed up to support him in court. His victims, however, are happy he will pay for his sins in prison.