Ponzi schemer 'more vicious than Madoff'

Brentwood money manager who pleaded guilty back in April receives bigger sentence than guidelines called for

Gordon Grigg, the former "life coach" and financial advisor who operated ProTrust Management Inc., will spend the next 10 years in jail followed by three years of suspended release.

Judge Aleta Trauger handed down the sentence this afternoon following the convicted schemer’s guilty plea this spring. In April, Grigg admitted in federal court to four counts of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud, after operating a Ponzi scheme that dating back to 1996.

Sentencing guidelines had called for between 78 and 97 months in jail and two years of suspended release. In her sentencing, Judge Trauger noted Grigg's pattern of preying on vulnerable people and said his use of religion was an aggregating factor.

"It is not a violent offense, but it has done violence in many ways to his victims," Trauger said from the bench. "This case had a more vicious twist than Madoff."

Grigg was caught earlier this year following his last-ditch attempt to keep the fraud alive by attempting to convince investors that he could get investors into high-yielding notes issued by the government as part of the Treasury's Troubled Assets Relief Program. He was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission in January and was accused of duping at least 27 investors out of about $6.5 million.

During today's sentencing hearing, Grigg victims from California, Illinois, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee told of their experiences with him, painting a picture of a man who fashioned himself a savior during troubled times.

Rita Jorgensen of Franklin said Grigg "made a mockery of my faith, quoting scripture all the time." And Steve Weiland, a former pilot now living in Davidson, N.C., said Grigg "came clothed in Jesus Christ, as a brother in God. He said, 'I'm praying for you and I'll take care of you.' Well, he took care of me alright."