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Suit claims church defrauded investors


SCOTTSDALE – Two pastors bilked investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars using claims about words from God, the investors allege in a lawsuit.

According to the suit, the Rev. Mike Maiden of the Eagle’s Nest Christian Embassy repeatedly claimed he had divine guidance on important financial decisions. He then used the claims to help the “financial pastor,’ Frank Luca, defraud investors out of their money.

Luca, 52, was indicted earlier this year by a federal grand jury on charges of selling millions of dollars in fraudulent real-estate partnerships in Sedona and in Nevada.

Nearly four dozen investors from Arizona and other states filed the suit July 19. The suit seeks unspecified damages and a court order freezing the $3 million the church expects to earn from the sale of its Scottsdale property, said attorney Russell Piccolli.

He said he wants the funds preserved to pay any judgment that may result from the suit.

Scott Olsen, a salesman who once worked for Luca, filed a sworn affidavit in support of the plaintiffs. Olsen said he attended church services with Luca after accepting a job offer.

During the meeting, Olsen said, Maiden asked him to stand. Maiden told him he had received word from God that Olsen had “just made a major business decision and that is exactly where God wants me to be.’

“Being a religious person,’ Olsen said, “I was stunned and quite moved. . . . I considered this to be an enormous confirmation of my business decision.’

Maiden said last week he didn’t remember that event.

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