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"Amish Bernie Madoff" Indicted in Alleged Ponzi Scheme

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Monroe Beachy, a 77-year-old man from the Amish community of Sugarceek, Ohio, is in a mess of trouble with the federal government. Not for selling contaminated butter or faulty handcrafted furniture, but for running an alleged Ponzi scheme that earned him the nickname "the Amish Bernie Madoff."

Prosecutors charged Beachy with mail fraud yesterday following a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into his investment fund, which lost nearly half of the $33 million it collected from thousands of creditors, mostly other Amish, in 29 states since 1990.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
In reality, Beachy and his company, A&M Investments, had lost nearly all of his investors' money by 1998 in speculative investments such as risky stocks, mutual funds and junk bonds. But he continued to solicit investments from new investors, investigators said, and used the money to repay earlier investors -- a so-called Ponzi scheme similar to that operated by the infamous Bernard Madoff, which had cheated investors out of an estimated $18 billion by the time he was caught in 2008.

Unlike the real Madoff, Beachy, who has a 10th-grade education and got his financial training at H&R Block, isn't accused of pocketing investors' money. Nor was he living the high life: His personal assets consist mainly of a horse, buggy, and harnesses, according to NPR.

It's been a rough week for the Plain People, legally speaking. On Monday, a group of eight Amish men were thrown in a Kentucky jail. They had refused to pay fines for failing to affix orange safety triangles -- which they consider overly modern -- to their buggies, resulting in these mugshots:

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(See also: For Some Reason, the Amish Have a Problem With Filing Their Taxes Electronically)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.