Hundreds of Southland Clergymen Had Invested : Securities Company Run by Minister Is Placed in Receivership by Court
AL DELUGACH and JOHN DART | Los Angeles Times

Hundreds of active and retired Los Angeles-area clergymen are among the nearly 1,000 people who invested more than $12 million through a Downey securities firm run by a minister and taken over this week by a court-appointed receiver amid allegations of fraud.

Without admitting or denying accusations made by state authorities in a civil lawsuit, Vesper Corp. and its owner, the Rev. John M. Simon, who is an ordained Lutheran pastor, consented to the entry of a court judgment that they “disgorge any property or funds acquired in violation of law. . . .” The lawsuit accuses Simon and Vesper of illegally commingling funds and misstating risks about investments to clients.

Thomas Fehn, attorney for Simon and the firm, which did business as Clergy Tax & Financial Services, said Tuesday that his clients agreed to the receivership and the permanent injunction without admitting wrongdoing because “the investors need to be protected.” No estimate has been made of how much money can be recovered and returned to investors.

Simon, who was ordained by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, did not return calls to his Downey office Tuesday. Fehn said that Simon is in his late 40s. A church source described Simon as a “worker-priest,” who earns his money outside the church and is affiliated part time with a church in Long Beach.


If you have a complaint about any type of consumer fraud, including any type of mass-marketing fraud, you can file a complaint through a toll-free Consumer Help Line, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or online with the Federal Trade Commission


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