Has the Robert H. Schuller Family Been Running a Crystal Ponzi Scheme Cathedral?

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We posted an item earlier this morning about two Orange County men who stole nearly $10 million from investors in separate Ponzi schemes. Now, we must ask, what is it if not a Ponzi scheme the Robert H. Schuller family has been running, at least based on the lawsuit brought by unpaid creditors of their bankrupt megachurch?

In a Ponzi scam, the crook takes money from investors promised huge returns, sometimes even trickling back payments to the initial marks that are labeled returns but are actually small portions of investments from new stooges (ala a pyramid scheme). But none, or hardly any, of the funds are actually invested, being spent by the thief on his or her lavish lifestyle.

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Illustration by Thomas Pitilli
According to Friday's court filing and as previously reported by the Weekly, the Schullers reaped generous salaries and perks for nine years while their Crystal Cathedral Ministries have nosedived financially. Similar to a Ponzi schemer using some funds to hide his tracks, the ministries also borrowed $10 million from endowment funds to make payroll and maintain the 40-acre Crystal Cathedral campus in Garden Grove, the suit alleges.

The Schullers are accused of having exerted their influence on the church to better themselves financially with huge salaries, housing allowances and other benies to the detriment of creditors, reports the Orange County Register. As the bankruptcy proceedings continue, the Schullers want to keep getting paid along with Crystal Cathedral's creditors. The lawsuit seeks to stop this, or at least hold off paying family members until the creditors are fully paid off. Unsecured creditors are owed more than $7.5 million.

Schuller family members claim through their attorneys that the lawsuit contains many inaccuracies and that there is no reason they should not keep getting paid what they have been getting paid.

Here's the Register's rundown of specifics found in the creditors' complaint:

  • Robert H. Schuller was given a discretionary fund of $300,000 after he handed over the ministry to his son Robert A. Schuller in 2006. He continued to receive compensation and housing allowances and received as much as $257,000 in 2009. He was also granted access to a 12th floor office suite. Schuller's agreement also guarantees both him and his wife, Arvella, health insurance, staff and travel staff for the rest of their lives. Schuller's claim: $55,226.27. Robert H. Schuller International, Schuller's company, also demands contractual payments totaling $223,078.09.
  • Robert A. Schuller who resigned as senior pastor in 2008 was given a $235,000 reserve fund to help found a new church. Both he and his wife, Donna, were to be paid salaries and benefits for a year after they left. Under the agreement, Crystal Cathedral Ministries also agreed to give Robert A. Schuller's new church a Mercedes Benz vehicle and $1 million in seed money for the new church. If a new church was not established, the younger Schuller and his wife would receive full salary and benefits for one additional year. The couple also occupied a condominium in Laguna Beach that was owned by the church. Robert A. Schuller's claim: $1.4 million.
  • Paul and Jeanne Dunn: Both Paul and his wife Jeanne Dunn were compensated until the filing of bankruptcy for producing the Glories although the pageants were not produced in 2009 and 2010. Dunn's agreement in 1992 gave him retirement benefits, life insurance, medical and disability insurance, paid staff, business, housing and car allowances. He was also allowed eight round trips per year from Hawaii, where he lives, to California. Paul Dunn's claim: $52,037.57; Jeanne Dunn's claim: $25,908.
  • Tim and Carol Milner: The suit alleges that Tim Milner received $10,000 per month in salary since 2006 to provide services at the discretion of his father-in-law and that he had no defined role or duties. Carol Milner was given a salary and housing allowance as well, but she provided "little or no benefit" to Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Tim Milner's claim: $ 98,313. Carol Milner's claim: $10,615.
  • Fred Southard: The only insider who was not a Schuller family member, Southard was the CFO of Crystal Cathedral ministries who retired early this year. He received a tax-free housing allowance of $132,019.33 per year. The complaint alleges that he loaned $100,000 to Crystal Cathedral Ministries and in return received a deed of trust on a specific property. However, the deed of trust was not recorded. Southard has filed two claims for $49,785-97 and $100,000 respectively.



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18 comments
Zipper
Zipper

From Jim & Tammy Bakke, Ted Arthur Haggard ,and Rev. Schuller, all these self-made ministers, all had one thing in common, greed?

Mat
Mat

While the Schuller's collected mega-bucks--we, the viewers and supporters have lost a lot too.  I would like to be reimbursed so the money I gave could by clergy/missionaries who do what they say and are not receiving huge salaries  used es or riding around in limos.  I am angry I fell for their line of c-----, there are so many who ARE responsible with donations. Any ideas of where to send the trinklets. sparrows figurines etc.???????????mat

Matthew
Matthew

Robert H. Schuller is a schwindler who does not teach about the bible but lives a lavish lifestyle based on pop psychology.  I went to the church growing up because I did not know any better and thats where my mother took me and my sister.  But now, I realize he is just another schemer like Joel Olsteen who likes to use a lot of pop psychology to make books and do ministry all in the name of Jesus.  

Pamelatomashek
Pamelatomashek

I have been going to that church for 20 years, and the reason for the financial set backs are because of the new building, and the mortgage on it.  When the building first began, we had pledges to cover the cost of building it, but the pledges slowly began to go away.  Companies pledging their support were beginning to go under and were not able to keep their promise.  by 2007, all the pledge monies were cancelled by the companies who were in trouble.  Then the recession finished us off.  The 2 top floors of the building are still unfinished.  Now we have to start over.  Please get your facts straight before you judge.

Pamelatomashek
Pamelatomashek

Robert Schuller has brought millions of people into the Kingdom of God, how many have you brought in?

Mmtrapp1
Mmtrapp1

While the Schuller's collected mega-bucks--we, the viewers and supporters have lost a lot too.  I would like to be reimbursed so the money I gave could by clergy/missionaries who do what they say and are not receiving huge salaries  used es or riding around in limos.  I am angry I fell for their line of c-----, there are so many who ARE responsible with donations. Any ideas of where to send the trinklets. sparrows figurines etc.???????????mat

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

The OCR's points are very specific -- care to address them or you're just a shill for Schuller?

Oh by the way, I hope the Rev suffers immensely in hell.

Jack Grimshaw
Jack Grimshaw

"Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man…living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you AND HE NEEDS MONEY!" - George Carlin.

Jack Grimshaw
Jack Grimshaw

The Rev. has brought millions of dollars into the Kingdom of Schuller - and that's ALL he gives a rat's ass about ...

MatthewT
MatthewT

Truth hurts sometimes, doesn't it?  Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Money, Pop Psychology, New Age Positive thinking,  you name it....im sure the Catholics, Mormons, Jehovahs Witnesses, Cult leaders claim the same thing as you do Pamelatomashek. 

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Who do you think is worse—Schuller, or Chuck Smith?

Pamelatomashek
Pamelatomashek

The OCR's points do not prove a ponzi scheme.  The courts would have found the fraud, if there really was a fraud.  Schuller tithed 100% of his book proceeds to the church.  He has given millions of dollars of his own money to the Crystal Cathedral.

Schuller will not go to hell, his relationship with God is still as strong as it ever was.

jm
jm

gustavoarellano is the worst

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

That's a tough one.  I'd give a slight edge to Smith because of his support for abusive pastors under his Dove umbrella. 

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