A view of Maranatha French Speaking Seventh Day Adventist Church in Jamaica, Queens, on Saturday, July 8, 2023. The church is among nearly 100 defendants named in a suit alleging they played a critical role in recruiting congregants to join a Ponzi scheme run by EminiFX. Photo by Macollvie J. Neel for The Haitian Times


Two Florida lawyers allege that numerous Haitian churches and pastors gave EminiFX CEO Eddy Alexandre access to their congregations to keep his Ponzi-like scheme going. Family members of his also participated in the fraudulent cryptocurrency platform case in which Alexandre is being sentenced later this month. Alexandre said the case will soon be dismissed.

This story was produced in partnership with the McGraw Center for Business Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

NEW YORK — Two Florida attorneys are suing nearly 100 churches, including the General Conference Corporation of Seventh Day Adventist (SDA), and prominent pastors in the Haitian community for allegedly recruiting thousands of congregants to join EminiFX, the cryptocurrency site whose CEO has since pled guilty to fraud. The wife, a sister and two cousins of CEO Eddy Alexandre are among individuals also accused in the civil suit of perpetrating the Ponzi scheme that investigators said attracted 62,000 members from seven different countries.

Of the numerous examples of alleged enticement cited in the suit is the story of a pastor-first lady pair who brought in $15 million from their Pennsylvania churches by telling congregants  Warren Buffet being an EminiFX investor and that the Adventist church would insure their investment.

“We believe that people were convinced by the church and the ministers that this was a good investment,” J. Wil Morris, the lead attorney in the suit, told The Haitian Times earlier this week. “They knew it was a scam.”

Morris said the General Conference Corporation of Seventh Day Adventist (GCC) are among the 108 defendants so far in the class action civil suit. He said the Seventh Day Adventist churches, more than 60 listed in the suit, allowed Alexandre to come into their churches to market EminiFX via meetings, galas and other means. Morris and the lawsuit say some pastors, deacons and hired personalities collected money directly from parishioners via cash and Zelle during religious meetings.

Alexandre, 52, began operating EminiFX in 2020, launching a site in 2021. Through virtual and in-person investor meetings, galas where he showed off “millionaires” members, and a robust network of “ambassadors” recruiting people, the Valley Stream man had amassed hundreds of millions by the time the FBI arrested him in May 2022.

Alexandre, whom court records show had declared bankruptcy twice before starting EminiFX, pled guilty to commodities fraud in February 2023. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 18 in federal court in Manhattan. 

Funds seized from Alexandre’s accounts have been placed in a receivership to determine what and how any monies will be distributed to eligible EminiFX members. 

“It was a terrible thing happening to the Haitian community, with so many screwed out of their funds,” said Morris, who provides examples of the alleged fraudulent behavior in the court documents. “They were getting kickbacks. All kinds of stuff was going on.”

The General Conference of Seventh Day Adventist, Alexandre and their attorneys did not return messages seeking comment as of Thursday. 

Reached at his church in Jamaica, Queens, on Saturday, Alexandre said the case will soon be dismissed and that he said in the criminal case that he acted alone. 

“The case has no basis,” Alexandre said. “I said in the criminal I had zero accomplices. Then, they turned around and said I have 108 because they’re trying to extort the church.” 

Philips Mompremier, a cousin of Alexandre’s wife and pastor of the Elim French Haitian SDA Church in Naples, Fla., is among the main defendants. Reached Thursday, he said, “At this time, I don’t have anything to say about it.” 

Morris and Ralph Francois, another attorney representing plaintiffs, initially filed the civil suit in April in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. An amended suit in May says their complaint is on behalf of 87 EminiFX investors, 12 of which are named in the court document. 

Most defendants have said in court filings they need more time to review the suit, Morris said.

Morris said he is now filing a motion for the court to certify the suit as a class action, which would allow more plaintiffs to join. He expects that designation to be evaluated within 30 days of filing. 

The suit seeks $500 million in funds and investment property due back to investors. 

“All Eddy did was lose money,” Morris said. “He had no algorithm or special robot. He never had. But that was the selling point, the proprietary way of selling to them.

“Everybody knows about Madoff,” he added, referencing the $65 billion Ponzi scheme that Bernie Madoff perpetrated in the Jewish community. “It’s the same thing. It’s the same sort of concept. You tap into people’s strengths and beliefs, and you’re able to exploit them.”

Who’s who in the lawsuit

The suit alleges 23 violations of federal and state racketeering and corrupt organizations (RICO) laws, from embezzlement to breach of contract. The attorneys lay out a sweeping view of the people, organizations and locations allegedly involved in recruiting and perpetrating the fraud. It includes several relatives of Alexandre’s and spans more than 100 cities across seven countries—the United States, Canada, France, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Chile and Brazil. 

The dozen plaintiffs bringing the suit are: Lorfils Joseph, Phucien Baptiste, Stephania Noel, Marie Lynda Laurore, Wilmac Laurore, Dieudonne Louis Jeune, Marie Yves Mehn, Boileau Mehn, Nadab Etizard, Phonise Etizard, Elleshia Newkirk and Elodie Jean-Emmanuel. 

Among the 100 or so defendants, notable names include Alexandre’s wife Clarelle Dieuveuil; his sister Lydie Bastien; cousin John E. Maisonneuve, a Pennsylvania pastor, and Dieuveuil’s cousin Montpremier, based in Florida; Massachusetts-based pastors Carl Behrmann and Carlyns Behrmann; media personality Jean Claude Junior Vaval; at least three churches with variations of the name “Shekinah.” Of the various SDA conferences and senior leaders named are Theodore Norman Clair  “Ted N.C.” Wilson, president of GCC, G. Alexander Bryant, executive secretary of the North American Division of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. 

The U.S. government is also named as a defendant because, Morris and Francois said, they want to be able to recover funds for plaintiffs from the $248 million forfeited, if necessary.

As of last week, Morris dropped Alexandre, EminiFx and one pastor from the suit because of an injunction in the ongoing civil suit in New York that involves the receivership. However, Morris said, his plaintiffs fully intend to continue pursuing the allegations against all other defendatns remaining. 

Alexandre and his network of relatives and churches used their positions “to illegally and wrongfully lure their parishioners into investing,” according to the complaint. Here’s how the alleged enterprise Ponzi scheme worked: 

  • Starting in 2020, Alexandre, Dieuveuil, Bastien, Maisonneuve, Montpremier, Williams Jean Charles, Brunia Lubin Pilet, Jean Vallon, Vaval, Ricardo Estime and others agreed to work together to get  SDA Church parishioners to invest with them. 
  • When Alexandre later launched the EminiFX site, he told members he had developed a special “robo-assisted advisor” to trade cryptocurrency and foreign exchange instruments profitably. He guaranteed investments of 5% and 9.97% each week, or 242% per year. 
  • But, instead of investing the funds, Alexandre used prior investors’ money to pay later investors, thus the Ponzi, the suit says. 
  • Maisonneuve, Montpremier and Jean Charles are pastors of SDA churches in Pennsylvania, Florida and Texas, respectively. Along with Alexandre, an elder at Maranatha Haitian Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Jamaica, Queens, they used their positions as religious leaders to convince parishioners to invest, including via virtual weekly investor meetings. They promised parishioners could become millionaires within three years.
  • For each investor recruited, a defendant received 10% of the investor’s buy-in money as compensation. Each recruited investor was then asked to recruit three others.
  • Many of the funds invested were sent to Alexandre’s personal bank accounts at Bank of America or TD Bank via Zelle or wire transfer.
  • So determined were the recruiters that they took cash from people who didn’t have computers on Alexandre’s behalf, according to the plaintiffs.
  • Others took advantage of anyone who trusted them. One example listed in the suit is that of Luckner Antoine, a deacon at Bahacca Adventist Church in Orlando, Fla. Antoine collected “millions of dollars,” the lawsuit says, on behalf of the church. That money included $22,000 from Margarette Dominique, a 61-year-old disabled woman who used funds received from a settlement after a debilitating work accident. Antoine had not explained to Dominique what happened to her money even after Alexandre’s arrest, according to the lawsuit. 

In all, by the time federal agents raided EminiFX’s offices in Manhattan, the defendants collected more than $500 million in money and investment property under false pretenses, the suit says. 

Key people in the religious network

Of the numerous names cited, one Pennsylvania pastor-first lady pair stands out for their alleged roles. 

Maisonneuve, pastor of Shekinah Adventist Church in Allentown, Penn. and Bethlehem French Adventist Church in Reading, Penn., and his wife Sophia Desrosiers aka Sophia Maisonneuve “served as the backbone of the EminiFX Ponzi scheme,” Morris and Francois claim. Together, the couple raised more than $15 million from their churches using high-pressure tactics and lies that prompted some congregants to complain to the regional SDA conference. Lies such as saying Warren Buffet was an EminiFX investor, that most of the skyscrapers being built in Manhattan belong to the young company and that the Adventist Church would insure their investments and return any money lost with interest, according to the suit. 

“Several church members told investigators that each Saturday, during church service, Rev. Maisonneuve, would spend hours exhorting the parishioners about the need to invest in EminiFX and directed them to see his wife after church to collect their investment,” Morris and Francois said. “On Sundays during devotion prayers and other activities, the Maisonneuves would come to the church solely for the purpose of recruiting and convincing parishioners to invest. 

 “Several parishioners told the investigators that when Pastor Maisonneuve spoke to them it was as if God was speaking directly to them.”

“Hundreds of class members lined up at the Maisonneuves’s house in Pennsylvania to hand over their hard-earned money for what they believed to be a legitimate investment based on what the pastor told them,” the lawyers said. “Several parishioners told the investigators that when Pastor Maisonneuve spoke to them it was as if God was speaking directly to them.”

The couple’s dedication proved lucrative for the couple, according to Morris and Francois. The pair used some of the parishioners’ money to build houses in Haiti and purchase a new one in Pennsylvania as well as to buy Rolex watches, cars and other luxury items. The month before Alexandre’s May 2022 arrest, he gave the Maisonneuves a 2022 blue Mercedes Benz for raising so much money. The government later seized that car.

Sophia Maisonneuve also oversaw the fake robot assistant and helped create the fake returns on investment shown to members every Thursday on the EminiFX app. In her role as a customer service operator, she also counseled members against withdrawing their money, the suit says.

Jean Charles, pastor of Houston Haitian Bethany Seventh-Day Adventist Church, allegedly went to a parishioner’s job to collect $25,000, insisting that she give him cash. She gave him a bank check. He then prayed for her and asked God to bless the investment. He also told people whose money he took not to ask for weekly returns.

“Jean Charles told the parishioners that EMINIFX was a legitimate investment and that it was God’s will for them to become millionaires,” the suit states.

Other members of the operation and EminiFX roles highlighted in the lawsuit include: 

  • Dieuveuil, Alexandre’s wife, who served as the chief financial officer.
  • Bastien, vice president of customer service, who toured the country visiting Adventist churches with her brother. She allegedly coerced people into joining.
  • Bertrand Louis, an advisor to Alexandre who held video sessions instructing investors to invest.
  • Lubin Pilet — after Alexandre was charged and pled guilty to commodities fraud — allegedly continued to solicit and collect money.
  • General Conference Corporation (GCC) hired, trained, retained and supervised all of the pastors. The conference had actual or tacit knowledge of their churches being used as part of the criminal enterprise and did nothing to stop it, the suit says. 

Category of alleged offenses

Due to their various roles in the alleged scheme, the complaint breaks out the list of defendants into five separate categories, or classes, as follows: 

  • First: The Adventist pastors and the Adventist churches who oversaw the operation. 
  • Second: Several Adventist churches whose pastors used the churches to recruit new investors. 
  • Third: People such as Pastor Augustin Faustin, a Baptist minister recruited and hired by the SDA church who used this online Facebook church to recruit members. 
  • Fourth: People such as Jean Vallon, Brunia Lubin Pilet, Jean Claude Junior Vaval, Wilfrid Laguerre and Wesguerre Lahens who were hired by Alexandre and the Adventist pastors to collect money under false pretense from people who did not have a computer. These defendants collected more than $100 million in cash each. For example, Delva, a plaintiff, gave $100,000 in cash to Vallon and saw at least 2,000 people give Vallon about the same amount of money. 
  • Fifth: Corporate defendants, such as the General Conference Corporation (GCC), the North American Division of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and the State Conferences of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Delva, a plaintiff, gave $100,000 in cash to Vallon and saw at least 2,000 people give Vallon about the same amount of money. 

“[Plaintiffs] had complained to those organizations about the strong-armed tactics employed by the pastors to collect money from the parishioners, but to no avail,” the lawyers said. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story listed Alexandre in the first class of defendants. The reference has been removed since Alexandre was removed from the suit.

Macollvie J. Neel, a writer and communications consultant, serves as executive editor of The Haitian Times. She is the founder of Comms Maven LLC, a consultancy that helps mission-driven professionals and organizations tell their stories in workplaces and media spaces.

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  1. I read this blog one thing I really like it is, you are doing your job well. If you keep working like this, your side will get traffic and DA million😍😍

  2. …The kind of investigative reporting that is needed to empower and protect the community from scammers from all horizons…

  3. Only zombies would trust him. Then the accountant(s) of this ponzi scheme has(ve) a lot to explain because it is almost impossible for this mess to occur without the knowledge and the accompliceship of them.

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