JWs in the News – Swindler Elder Lacks Empathy and…

JWs in the News – Swindler Elder Lacks Empathy and…

Board denies parole for swindler
From the Associated Press / Billings Gazette, March 25 2006

The state Board of Pardons has denied parole to a former Jehovah’s Witness church elder who helped bilk an elderly woman out of a $7 million estate, including a family ranch. Dale A. Erickson, 56, of Missoula, was sentenced in 2003 to 25 years in prison with 10 suspended after pleading no contest to conspiracy, theft and securities fraud.

Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Attorney Chris Miller and Sheriff Scott Howard attended the hearing at the Cascade County regional jail, where Erickson is an inmate. After listening to the objections of Miller, Howard and members of the late Una Anderson’s family, the board rejected Erickson’s request, said Jeff Walter, senior administrative officer for the state Board of Pardons in Deer Lodge.

“Both Sheriff Howard and I were very pleased with the board’s decision to put Erickson over for three more years,” Miller said.

Miller said the parole board took into account Erickson’s refusal to accept responsibility for his actions or acknowledge that harm was done to Anderson, of Deer Lodge.

“The defendant and his family talked at length about what they had been through, but apparently were unconcerned about the impact of the crime on the victim,” Miller said. “I believe that his lack of empathy was a deciding factor.”

Erickson and co-defendant Darryl K. Willis, 66, of Helena, were ordered to pay $7.15 million in restitution, said Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Anez. Willis has paid $402.94, but Erickson has paid nothing, Anez said.

Prosecutors said Anderson, who died last year at 103, lost her life savings and a 6,400-acre family ranch near Jens in an elaborate befriend-and-betray scheme perpetrated by Erickson and Willis over a period of seven years. The men sold her ranch in 1999 for $4 million, less than its 1995 appraised value of $5.3 million. They didn’t tell her of the sale, paid themselves a commission and spent the money.

They used more than $2 million of her money to finance an effort to set up Montana’s first foreign capital depository, which would offer a place for the super-rich to stash their money similar to Swiss-style and offshore-type banks.


8 thoughts on “JWs in the News – Swindler Elder Lacks Empathy and…

  1. It shouldn’t matter what religion he practices. There are many who do this kind of thing and they’re religion is never an issue, never published. What he did is wrong and he is rightfully being punished. We shouldn’t judge their whole organization by a few bad apples. Or was Jesus a thief because Judas was? Was he a coward because his apostles fled the night he was arrested? Are all Catholics pedophiles because their priests are? Are all Muslims terrorists because a few are?

  2. Well, in a certain sense it really doesn’t matter. You’re right.

    Except that:
    1) One of the regular features of this blog is to track JWs in the news. Here’s one. In the News.
    2) While one certainly cannot generalize from the behavior of a very few across a whole group, there are some trends here that are worrying.

    I wonder at what point the elder became a former elder – I suspect it wasn’t until his arrest, but of course I have no way of knowing.

    I wonder whether the victim was a member of the congregation. I consider it likely, but of course I have no way of knowing.

    I wonder how connected this elder was, and how he and his co-defendent hoped to connect with super-rich clients for hiding their money. I suspect the Watchtower Society might have had an interest, but of course I have no way of knowing.

    JWs seem, for whatever reasons, to get into trouble out of proportion to their population percentages. I would love to have the statistical data at my fingertips, but of course I have no way of knowing. Other than maybe documenting it and noticing the trends.

    This case is unusual in a number of ways. Unlike most of the other cases, it involves neither sexual predators nor domestic violence. That makes it noteworthy by itself. Secondly, the story actually highlights the issue of a lack of empathy as well as the lack of any inclination or ability to take responsibility for oneself, which is a documented effect of submission to totalitarian authorities (such as the Watchtower Society, among others).

    So while it might not matter in the larger sense of – what? – scoring points, or something like that? these news items do matter to me. There are a lot of them, and Witnesses are always saying that everyone should judge a religion by its fruits.

    So, hey, here are some of the fruits – this one’s a bit exotic.

  3. Why not track the positive work JW’s do? Why just the negative. Hey, you can find dirt on anyone. Most jails are overcrowded with what? JW’s? No mostly Catholics here in Los Angeles.
    As to not taking responsibility, it’s as old as time. Adam blamed Eve, she blamed the serpent, but Jehovah holds each one responsible for their actions.

  4. JWs tend to do positive work only for their own. They do not care for the poor, they forbid charity work or group activism. They used to promote literacy through bible education, but I’m not sure that’s anything like the priority as it once was. The bible “students” have fallen. In any case, they have their PR firm. I’m no Goebbels, no Rove – and why on earth would I be spinning them in a positive way? So little to recommend – OK, I still don’t salute the flag.

    Some people refuse to take responsibility. Some people don’t even have the emotional maturity to understand what to take responsibility for. Domination by totalitarian authority undermines that growth process whereby someone learns to have empathy toward others – and understands that others really exist as he or she exists. When that isn’t there, you have a situation like this, where an elderly woman is scammed by people who pretend to be her friends.

  5. Okay: Last post: JW’s have rebuilt many homes and helped many people-all non JW’s in New Orleans recently. Do not forbid charity work and do care for the poor. But the best work is telling people about the permanent solution to all of mankind’s illnesses: the Kingdom of Jehovah. All those people Jesus cured,, even resurrected, fell ill and died again. But those who accepted his message, the same one being preached in 235 lands by JW’s gained everlasting life! Jesus never opened hospitals, clinics, leper colonies, etc. Those are band-aids. The Kingdom is the cure.

  6. The only reason they helped anyone else in New Orleans was because they had a PR blunder that called attention to the fact that they were only assisting JWs there. The only thing they did at the time was to witness at the superdome (like the people there didn’t have enough to deal with), and help the displaced JWs. That got out. Things got modified. Look elsewhere and you’ll see the real story.

    Look on their own website to see discouragement against giving to worldly charities, as if you weren’t aware… Show me where they care for the poor. They’ve only started visiting prisons recently.

    Band-aids are really helpful. I wonder how you’d feel without hospitals and doctors and food and water. Did you forget about the bandaids of Jesus? He didn’t need a hospital for the lepers – he cured them. On the Sabbath, he healed too. Got into a little trouble over it, but his priorities were in the right place.

    JWs don’t even vote (small mercies, thank you).

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