Last March, the Federal Government seized more than $3,000,000 in money and property at a mobile home near Overton and in bank accounts across the nation. All of it belonged to Al Petty and his company, TeleCom 2000. Grand Jury indictments accused Petty of 102 counts of Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering. Petty says he's not a crook, he's just misunderstood.
"Usually you've got an act, then you've got a victim. We had no victim, we had no act, we had no complaint. Yet, the government did seize the funds. I knew that they didn't understand the system I was using."
Petty says his company works like this. His clients buy a business from him for $1,300. The business comes with a free cell phone, and long distance. The client doesn't have to make anything, sell anything, market anything, or do anything else. But, Petty promises to pay them back $3,800 over the next six years.
"I wish I could find a way to categorize exactly what we are. But, if what we are already existed, somebody else would have already been paying 500 to 1100 hundred percent. It didn't exist. It's a new concept."
The government says it's not new, and they categorize it as a ponzi, or pyramid scheme. They also claim Petty tried to cover up the crime by laundering money through non-profit charities. In December of last year, Petty's TeleCom 2000 put $372,000 into a bank account for Christian Disciples International. CDI then paid Petty's personal charity, Face to Face Ministries $363,000 the next day. Face to Face then loaned TeleCom 2000 $140,000 a few days later. Petty admits to making that series of transactions.
"But, I don't like that. I don't like it because it appeared like I was trying to hide some funds or something. I've got nothing to hide. Never hid anything in my life."
One group who's not hiding are Petty's supporters. They've shown up to several of his court hearings this summer, coming from as far away as Canada. If Petty loses the trial, he could spend the rest of his life in prison and forfeit all of his TeleCom 2000 earnings.
"My concern though, is what's going to happen to those 3,000 people. I'm very concerned. That's what I'm fighting for. It don't really matter to me. The people in prison need ministering and music too. And, I'm pretty good at both those things."
Petty hopes he's equally good at convincing juries.