In a bizarre twist in the bankruptcy case of Monroe Beachy, a 77-year old Amish man accused of running a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme in the Amish community, 97 percent of the creditors want the case dismissed.
Media headlines are comparing Beachy to Bernie Madoff, the investment advisor who choreographed a $50 billion Ponzi scheme since the early ’90s, because of the long period in which they both falsified positive returns to investors.
As part of the investigation, Beachy filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in June with a court in the Northern District of Ohio. Court documents indicate he has less than $18 million of investors’ money left.
In an unusual twist, according to a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy proceedings filed by members of the Amish community, about 2,550, or 94 percent, of creditors are in favor of dismissal. The bankruptcy court received 67 filings each containing multiple form letters from Miller and other members of the Amish community in Sugarcreek.
Instead, the filing indicates they proposed an “Amish Alternative Plan” in which a committee of Amish leaders from Sugarcreek will distribute the less-than-$18 million of Beachy’s assets. The committee aims to distribute the funds “based on Christian principles of love and care for the poor and needy,” according to a court filing.
The request to dismiss the bankruptcy case and release the bankruptcy estate to the Amish community is quite interesting. This bankruptcy case presents the judge with the dilemma of deciding how the best interests of the creditors should weigh with the religious beliefs of those same creditors. While the Amish bankruptcy alternative sounds honorable, the main question is whether the bankruptcy court should relinquish a bankruptcy estate into the hands of a nongovernmental entity for the purposes of repaying creditors based on religious beliefs.