FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. — A Pennsylvania accountant defrauded Amish and Mennonite community members out of $60 million after investing their money in a failing dairy he owned, investigators said.
Philip E. Riehl provided accounting services to members in the religious communities. He created an investment company, pooling money raised by selling promissory notes to community members, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
He raised about $60 million over 10 years and promised to invest the money in business and real estate loans.
Instead, he sold investors notes issued by Trickling Springs Creamery, a failing dairy company he owned. He did not inform investors of the company’s mounting debt and financial difficulties.
Riehl diverted money to the creamery in 2018 against at least one investor’s wishes.
He claimed to require two co-signers which gave a “false sense of security, in that such a considerable percentage of the funds were channeled into my personal projects," Riehl wrote in a 2019 apology letter to investors.
The creamery closed its doors in September. He filed for bankruptcy in December 2019 and was unable to pay back investors.
Riehl and three others were excommunicated from their churches over the dealings, the Washington Post reported.
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