San Jose, California - A federal jury convicted Jonathan Chang of four counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The verdict follows a four-week trial before the Honorable Edward J. Davila, United States District Judge.
The evidence at trial demonstrated that Jonathan Chang, 63, of Cupertino, California, engaged in a scheme to defraud a wealthy donor of money intended to support the Home of Christ 4 Christian Church (HOC4), located in Saratoga, Calif. Chang, who served as an “elder” responsible for managing the finances of the church, furthered his scheme by establishing charitable organizations with names similar to the church. He then directed more than $6 million from the donor to his own organizations rather than to the HOC4. In addition, Chang embezzled approximately $900,000 from HOC4-related bank accounts in his scheme to defraud.
The jury concluded that Chang solicited funds from the wealthy donor for the stated purpose of acquiring a new HOC4 building (church house) and purported missionary work. In response to Chang’s requests, the donor provided $2.25 million in one-time donations, a $3 million loan to acquire the new building, and approximately $1.5 million total in monthly donations. Chang did not use the funds as directed and authorized by the donor. Instead, he commonly used the funds for personal enrichment. For example, Chang used the funds to buy a number of houses in the Bay Area, purchase luxury vehicles, obtain 15 timeshare interests, invest in commercial real estate, and pay for his health insurance and athletic club dues. The evidence also showed that Chang purchased a home in Fremont with the donor’s funds and then leased the house to one of the donor’s companies, thereby collecting rent on a house that was purchased with funds the donor earmarked for religious purposes. Similarly, Chang purchased another home with donor funds that were designated for religious purposes, but ultimately rented the home to one of his children. In total, between 2004 and January 2016, Chang obtained more than $7.5 million in funds from the donor and HOC4.
Chang also concealed the proceeds of his scheme to defraud by committing money laundering. The evidence at trial demonstrated Chang created fraudulent entities to conceal the wire fraud scheme and forwarded the funds to a variety of other bank accounts he controlled before spending the money on personal purchases.
On February 4, 2016, a federal grand jury indicted Chang and his wife, Grace Chang, 60, charging each with one count of conspiracy to commit wire or mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349; four counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h); and three counts of money laundering, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 1956(a). The jury found Jonathan Chang guilty of all the wire fraud and money laundering counts. The jury did not reach a verdict as to the two charged conspiracy counts, nor did the jury reach a verdict as to the counts filed against Grace Chang.
Jonathan Chang faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. He also face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered funds, whichever is greater, for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B). Additional periods of supervised release, fines and restitution may apply. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Jonathan and Grace Chang are scheduled to appear before Judge Davila on September 17, 2019 for a status conference.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick R. Delahunty and Sarah E. Griswold are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Susan Kreider. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.