American Bankruptcy Institute
BAPTIST FOUNDATION OF ARIZONA, INC.
[An Arizona Non-Profit Corporation]
A CASE WHERE THE PONZI SCHEME
WAS IN THE CHURCH
By: Clifton R. Jessup, Jr.
GREENBERG TRAURIG LLP
2200 Ross Avenue. Suite 5200
Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 665-3638 (direct dial)
(214) 665-5938 (direct fax)
With Special Assistance from
Clifton R. Jessup, III
2009 Midwestern Bankruptcy Institute
When Attorney Clifton Jessup was appointed Liquidating Trustee of the Baptist
Foundation of Arizona (BFA) Liquidation Trust in January of 2001, he was placed at the mast
amidst a sea of endless promissory notes, deeds of trust, memos, letters, and appraisals.
But even worse, over 11,000 victims, many of whom were elderly members of the
Southern Baptist church, were now looking to he and his team to help them to salvage their
investment out of what had become a nightmare situation.
In 1999, less than two years prior to Jessup's appointment, the Arizona Corporation
revealed that the Baptist Foundation of Arizona had been running a "complex Ponzi scheme"
based on the sale of illegal securities. The Foundation had borrowed an estimated $585 million
from these 11,000 faithful Southern Baptist members using elaborate but specious real estate
schemes. They had lost almost everything.
Members of the largest Protestant religious organization in America had been scammed
into the largest religious fraud in American history.
The malfeasors were many, but at the head of the operation was Bill Crotts, a Southern
Baptist minister's son who succeeded his father as head of the BFA in 1982. He had seen his
father work for over two decades to bring the organization out of financial turmoil. To his
detriment, he adopted an "any means necessary" attitude to bringing and continuing the
Foundation’s prominence. Crotts used his knowledge of the inner workings of BFA and the
concept of "stewardship" in the