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Church member accused of pyramid scheme in Nashville

Today the Nashville (Tenn.) Post reports:

Last week’s raid by federal agents on the offices of Sommet Group, along with a government claim that Managing Partner Brian Whitfield has engaged in “ongoing criminal activity,” may have surprised those who knew Sommet mainly as the name that used to be on Nashville’s downtown arena.
It may have surprised acquaintances who knew Whitfield as an active parishioner at Franklin’s Fourth Avenue Church of Christ.

A story in last week’s Nashville Business Journal gives additional details on the FBI raid of Sommet’s offices in Franklin, Tenn.

  • Feedback
    Let us all remember that in the US all are innocent until proven guilty.
    This is not so in the Napolianic code in much of Europe. You are guilty until proven innocent.
    John Paul Hundley
    July, 13 2010

    Multilevel Marketing (aka Pyramid Schemes) are a blight on society and can be more than a nuisance for churches. I’ve been amazed to see otherwise bright people getting suckered into these “networks.” Primerica, Herbalife, Trump Network, etc etc.
    Of course, as John observed about this particular case, innocent until proven guilty.
    Adam Gonnerman
    July, 13 2010

    Except for the grace of God there go I.
    Chuck Owen
    July, 14 2010

    “restore such a one” if found guilty.
    Marty Farrar Highfield
    July, 14 2010

    Thank you Chuck for your non judgemental comment & example set at the very beginning of what I am sure will be a long list of commentaries. May we ALL keep this in mind as more info becomes available.
    Lisa Shults Ezzell
    July, 14 2010

    Adam Gonnerman said:
    Multilevel Marketing (aka Pyramid Schemes)…
    is an inaccurate statement.
    A quick check on the Governments Federal Trade Commission
    defines Multi-level marketing (MLM)as follows.
    MLM – also known as “network” or “matrix” marketing – is a way of selling goods and services through distributors. These plans typically promise that people who sign up as distributors will get commissions two ways – on their own sales and on the sales their recruits have made.
    Pyramid schemes – a form of multi-level marketing – involve paying commissions to distributors only for recruiting new distributors. Pyramid schemes are illegal in most states because the plans inevitably collapse when no new distributors can be recruited. When a plan collapses, most people – except those at the top of the pyramid – lose their money.
    Referencing the FTC web site will give anyone interested additional information.
    Al Morningstar
    July, 15 2010

    Whatever. Neither is a good option. Neither model is sustainable. The majority who participate will end up losing in the end.
    Adam Gonnerman
    July, 15 2010

    I am a little bothered by the Christian Chronicle’s direction lately, in deciding to report on such activity. To be quite frank, I do not know this person, nor do I know anything about this case other than what media tells me. He is not a member of my congregation. If I passed him on the street, I would not know it. It is not for me – or ANYONE else here – to pass judgment.
    Please inform me, Christian Chronicle – what is the difference between that in which you are now engaging …. and gossip?
    Vincent Eagan
    July, 15 2010

    What bothered me was the use of the term “parishioner”. I associate that term with a member of a denomination.
    As far as whether it’s “gossip” to report that someone in the news in a negative way is also a church member, the Bible reported the good with the bad. Several years ago in the church I attend, a member of our church had two schemes that swindled other members of our church out of money. We need to be aware that some people, even fellow church members, put their greed before the good of others.
    Also, one person’s gossip can be another’s innocent information query. Back when our church had a campus ministry, I asked a young member about the health of someone else, and they replied that I should not gossip. Apparently, to this person, only a “leader” had the “need to know” about such things.
    Eugene Maddox
    July, 15 2010

    If you’re out of town on Sunday, which church will you visit? Most likely the one named (aka “denominated”) as church of Christ. While I agree with giving Bible things Bible names, let’s not over-react when the media users such terms. The CC was just republishing another media outlet’s story. I don’t think they have an agenda to convert us further to the Roman church than we already are.
    July, 15 2010

    I commend the young person, Eugene. Perhaps what they meant was that if you had a question about someone else’s health, maybe you should ask them yourself. Just a thought.
    Vincent Eagan
    July, 16 2010

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