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January 20, 2019

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Las Vegas pastor, ex-Globetrotter held in fraud

Former Harlem Globetrotters player Clyde "The Glide" Austin of Las Vegas is one of four men charged with bilking investors out of more than $10 million using three Nevada corporations and a local bank, a federal indictment says.

Austin, who also played basketball at North Carolina State University, was being held as a federal prisoner in the North Las Vegas Detention Center today on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, jail officials confirmed. No bail had been set.

According to an indictment released Friday by the U.S. Attorney's office in Richmond, Va., three corporations were set up in Nevada by Austin, who is now a pastor, to operate part of the scheme and that one local bank was used to make "lulling payments to investors."

Austin and the others are accused of running a pyramid fraud scheme through churches in Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Illinois, New Jersey, and Georgia between 1996 until the fall of 2000, the indictment says.

Clyde E. Austin, Sr., 45, is a former resident of Cary, N.C., and a current resident of Las Vegas, according to a statement released with the indictment by the U.S. Attorney's office in Richmond.

The statement said Austin was pastor of churches in Cary and Las Vegas, but did not specify the local church with which he was affiliated. Attempts to locate that church were not successful.

"Most of the victims of the defendants' scheme were members of churches in North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois and Missouri," the indictment said.

A spokeswoman in the U.S. Attorney's office in Richmond declined today to comment further.

A spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney's office in Las Vegas today said she could not confirm nor deny whether there was an investigation ongoing into any possible illegal activities or potential victims in Nevada.

A detention hearing was scheduled for Wednesday for Austin, a 6-foot-2 guard who in the 1980s played for the Globetrotters, a traveling professional team that for decades has combined comic antics with basketball skills in exhibition games.

Also named in the indictment were Lamont C. Knight, a former Virginia Commonwealth University basketball player, Richard A. Hertz Sr. and Thomas W. Hofler Jr.

Knight, 43, of Richmond, was a pastor of a local church and the president of Athletes for Jesus. Hertz, 51, of Richmond, was a minister in a local church. Hofler, 35, also is from Richmond, the statement said.

According to the indictment, Austin "promoted 'investment' trading programs that promised extraordinarily high rates of return in North Carolina, Virginia and other places. Austin recruited Knight and Hertz to such programs."

The companies he used "for the receipt and disposition of funds from investors in Virginia and other places" were Nevada-based International Financial Opportunities, LLC; Foxmoore Limited Partnership; and MP&G Property Management; and North Carolina-based Quicksilver Holding Co., the indictment says.

Austin incorporated International Financial Opportunities in Nevada on July 10, 1996. Brent Vuscay is listed as the company's president, secretary and treasurer, according to the Secretary of State's office, which also lists the company's corporate status as revoked.

Austin incorporated Foxmoore on July 11, 1997, according to the Secretary of State's office, which notes that corporation status also is revoked.

MP&G Property Management was incorporated by Austin in Nevada on Aug. 9, 2000, the indictment said. MP&G's account at Bank of America in Las Vegas was used to make "lulling payments to investors," the indictment said.

Quicksilver Holding Co. was incorporated by Austin in North Carolina on Feb. 18, 1998.

"Austin had been operating 'investment' programs under the name Quicksilver, or variations thereof, since at least 1997," the indictment said.

More than 200 potential investors were involved, the statement said. Many were church members investing their retirement funds, the statement said.

"What makes this case most egregious is that religious leaders preyed upon their parishioners for their personal enrichment," U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said in the statement.

Austin's name comes up on Internet searches linked to other get-rich-quick investments, such as "the Virtual Millionaire System" and "Retire Quickly," which the U.S. Attorney's office in Richmond could not immediately confirm as being part of their investigation.

The Associated Press

contributed to this report.