Radio host gets 25 years in Ponzi scheme targeting listeners
A Texas radio host and financial consultant who admitted to conning elderly listeners out of more than $20 million in a Ponzi scheme has been sentenced to 25 years in prison
DALLAS — A Texas radio host and financial consultant who admitted to conning elderly listeners out of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The sentence was imposed as part of a plea deal that William Neil “Doc” Gallagher, 79, agreed to on Friday with Dallas County prosecutors, the Dallas Morning News reported. The North Richland Hills man was ordered to pay more than $10 million in restitution.
Gallagher targeted older, Christian listeners of his show, called “The Money Doctor,” and met with them to discuss what he said was risk-free income, prosecutors said. He guaranteed annual returns of 5% to nearly 9% if they invested in securities with him, according to the criminal complaint. He described it as a “retirement income you’ll never outlive.”
Gallagher, who wasn’t licensed to advise clients on securities, received up to $29.2 million from about 60 investors from December 2014 to January 2019, authorities said. By Jan. 31, 2019, those accounts contained just $821,951.
Under the plea deal, Gallagher was convicted on one count each of theft of more than $300,000, money laundering of more than $300,000 and securities fraud exceeding $100,000.
“He took advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” lead prosecutor Alexis Goldate said in a written statement. “He targeted elderly investors and individuals attracted to his Christian ideals and then stole from them.”
Authorities said Gallagher dished out roughly $5.9 million to early investors by using newer investors’ capital. He also used several million dollars for payroll, radio and website costs and personal outlays such as legal fees.
Gallagher has been behind bars since his March 2019 arrest. After the indictment, the Gallagher Financial Group’s assets were frozen and a lawyer was appointed to manage the funds.
Following his plea, authorities said Gallagher apologized to his friends and family.
He faces more charges in Tarrant County.
Sitting in jail, ‘Doc’ Gallagher, accused of stealing $30 million, writes a letter deflecting blame
Former radio host “Doc” Gallagher sits in Dallas County jail charged with running a $30 million Ponzi scheme. He blames others, even though long ago he earned his doctorate in philosophy on the concept of blame.
Something about time in jail to think can lead to great writings by great men.
Gandhi. Mandela. Martin Luther King Jr.
Then there’s the jail writings of W. Neil “Doc” Gallagher — the financial money man and radio show host locked away in Dallas County jail for the past four months on $1 million bond.
Gallagher, 78, of North Richland Hills, is accused by authorities of running a Ponzi scheme that robbed his elderly victims of up to $30 million. Like Bernie Madoff, he allegedly took the money, didn’t invest it and created phony financial statements he shared with his many victims, court records charge.
Sitting in his cell, Gallagher received a letter from Susan Pippi, a Bedford woman suffering from lymphoma, who along with her husband, lost $675,000. She pleaded with him to tell the government where he hid all the money.
Here’s Gallagher’s reply:
“I am glad you wrote. I really do understand how you feel. Keep writing and expressing whatever you want. If I could get out of here I would gladly visit you face-to-face to give you the details of what has happened. (They won’t let me speak to clients until the trial is over.) No surprise here: the way it has been characterized in the media is false. I look forward to seeing you. Doc.”
How he got his nickname
Susan Pippi, who showed me the letter last week, said: “He puts the blame on everyone else. He didn’t show any kind of sorrow for what he did or apologize or anything. It was, ‘Oh, they got this all wrong. I got a reason for what I did.'”
As for his blaming the media, that is quite rich. So this is The Watchdog’s fault?
I’ve written two stories about Doc since his arrest: “One of D-FW’s best-known financial advisers is in Dallas County jail, with bail set at $1 million” and “What’s it like to turn on the TV and learn you lost your life savings to an alleged swindler?”
The idea that Doc Gallagher is blaming others for his problems is one of the great ironies. How so? Let’s trace back to where Gallagher got his nickname.
He does have a legitimate doctorate, but it’s not in finance or economics. It’s a 1981 doctoral degree from prestigious Brown University in philosophy.
What was his doctoral thesis about? Sit down for this. I have a copy.
It’s called “The Concept of Blame.”
No kidding. The doc in “Doc” Gallagher represents his expertise on the subject of blame. His doctorate isn’t a testament to his investment acumen. Rather it plays to his current interest, blaming others for his alleged immoral and illegal deeds.
Where’s the money?
I purchased a copy of his 161-page thesis and shipped it to Pippi. I asked her to read his dense philosophical treatise — and share her impressions.
She wasn’t impressed: “Somewhat confusing. There never was a definite conclusion on the use of the word blame.”
Gallagher has declined my request for a jailhouse interview. In addition, he has no lawyer of record. He may be representing himself.
Gallagher must be presumed innocent, but this much we know:
He built his reputation with paid advertising shows on three different area radio stations, including one Christian station. A week before his arrest in March, he was still doing his shows, court records show.
Of possibly $29 million he collected from investors in recent years, only $821,000 remained in his bank account.
Where, as Pippi asked him, is the money? I don’t know.
But I do know that in one of his books, he wrote about the benefits of keeping offshore accounts.
He wrote, “All of the investigative agencies … will not be able to find your sheltered accounts and assets. This makes you a poor prospect for a lawsuit or seizure. Judgments of U.S. courts are not recognized in the Bahamas.
“Who should use an offshore corporation?” he continued. “People who work hard for their financial rewards and who want to keep their assets secret and out of reach of lawyers and lawsuits or seizure by government agencies.”
He laid it out pretty clearly, didn’t he?
Doc wasn’t licensed
Gallagher wasn’t a registered financial adviser. Plus, he had several run-ins with government regulators going back to 1999.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that he left investors with the strong impression that he was properly licensed, even though he wasn’t.
How did he persuade people to invest? He was a brilliant showman with persuasive abilities. From his offices in Hurst and Addison, he lured seniors in with promises of big returns on stable investments, according to court records.
Oh, and he loved to invoke God, the Bible and Jesus, too.
He’s a smart man. Able to persuade good people to invest their hard-earned money, trusting in him.
But at least one important character trait appears to be missing. Even though he has a doctorate on the subject, “Doc” Gallagher never mastered the concept of blame.
News researcher Sarah Smith-Ruehle contributed to this report.