A former downtown Charleston pastor who was implicated in a $3.3 million Ponzi scheme was sentenced to 18 months in prison Wednesday for bank fraud.
Ronald Satterfield, 65, former pastor of St. John’s Reformed Episcopal Church on Anson Street, forged a church secretary’s name to get a bank loan for more than $250,000, then lost that money and more in the investment scheme, court records state.
Satterfield operated what the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission called a Ponzi scheme between March 2006 and March 2009, when the bottom fell out. Some church members lost money, although most of the investors lived in a lakeside community in Michigan.
Satterfield forged documents to obtain the loan from Carolina First Bank in September 2006, and transferred the money from the church’s account to his account in September 2010.
Satterfield was arrested in January 2011. He agreed to pay back the bad loan when he pleaded guilty in May, but still owes more than $225,000, an assistant solicitor told the court Wednesday.
Satterfield’s attorney said he has been working at Chick-fil-A and living off Social Security since his arrest. He recommended the court order community service instead jail time. Friends and church members spoke on his behalf.
Circuit Judge Thomas Hughston said he felt obligated to hand down a punishment that would send a message of deterrence. He sentenced Satterfield to five years suspended on serving 18 months, followed by five years of probation and restitution.
Satterfield operated a foreign-exchange trading operation under the names Graham Street Forex Group LLC and Shore-2-Summit Financial LLC. He tried to make profits off changing values of foreign currencies.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.