Two Dallas-area men have been charged, and once sentenced, for defrauding a Kemp cabinetmaker out of $1 million.
Johnny Clifton, 52, a former stock broker and oil and gas fraudster, and Joshua Pugh, 25, a former fast food employee, convinced the man that they were members of the Illuminati, a fictional group that controls international finance and business.
They hired a convoy of rented black SUVs and security guards, and even a helicopter, to go to the defendant’s house, and also threatened the man, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Dallas on Dec. 5, 2017. They hired off-duty police officers as security guards.
Clifton was sentenced in August to 13 years in federal prison, while Pugh is in custody and awaiting sentencing.
The victim invested about $1 million with Clifton and Pugh between November 2015 and March 2017, with Clifton quoting biblical scripture to the victim to persuade him to provide the money. The victim was not identified in the indictment and is a Mennonite who had little contact with people outside of his family and church. The victim had difficulty understanding that anyone who claimed to be a Christian was capable of duplicity, the indictment stated.
“Based on the representations and interactions with Pugh and Clifton, Victim 1 feared the ramifications of not acquiescing to their demands,” the indictment read. “These fears included his and his family’s physical safety, damage to the reputation of his church, and his own financial well-being.”
Clifton used $518,000 of the money that had been provided by the victim to buy two Porsches and one Maserati. Pugh bought $18,500 in merchandise from Louis Vuitton, a black mink coat, and a $5,500 Super Bowl ticket, flying there on a private jet. He also allegedly paid $400 per day to a person to insert and take out his contact lenses, and he also bought chartered helicopter rides.
Clifton had asked U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle for leniency, saying he wasn’t a threat and had learned his lesson. But Boyle doubted Clifton’s sincerity and sentenced him to 13 years and ordered Clifton to pay $1 million in victim restitution, according to the Dallas Morning News.