A New York pastor with a religious cable television show pleaded guilty Wednesday in Manhattan federal court to bilking investors out of $3 million in a jewelry fraud scheme.
Samuel Solanky, 63, whose Asian Indian Christian cable show “Vandana” was broadcast in the New York Metropolitan area and elsewhere around the world, told investors he would use their money to buy gemstones in India, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
He told investors he would then sell the gemstones to jewelers in the United States and promised them a 100 percent return on the investment in months, authorities said.
Unfortunately for the investors, he never bought gems and pocketed the money through a crafty scheme that often involved wiring the money overseas, authorities said. The scheme took place from 2005 to 2009.
Solanky agreed to a forfeiture of $3 million. Sentencing is set for Sept. 29 before U.S. District Judge Stephen C. Robinson.
The website National Jeweler, which reported on the indictment last year, said Solanky’s website Vandana.org noted that the cable show was broadcast in New York, Texas, Pakistan, India and all of Asia. Solanky’s website no longer appears to be functioning.