PHILADELPHIA (WHTM) – The owner of a dairy supplier that closed last year is accused of running a Ponzi scheme that bilked approximately $60 million from investors in the Amish and Mennonite communities.
Philip Elvin Riehl, the majority owner of Trickling Springs Creamery in Chambersburg, solicited investments from clients into a bogus investment program then diverted the funds to his business, U.S. Attorney William McSwain said Friday.
Riehl also made misrepresentations and omissions about the creamery’s business and financial condition, McSwain said.
Trickling Springs Creamery ceased operations in September, leaving more than 100 people who worked there without jobs. A bankruptcy petition was filed in December.
McSwain said the victims of Riehl’s scheme were generally members of the Mennonite or Amish communities who wanted a safe and secure investment, operated within their community and in a manner consistent with their religious principles.
The charges note that Riehl was a co-religionist in the Mennonite community.
“Riehl presented himself as a trusted member of their religious community, only to betray that trust and swindle them out of tens of millions of dollars,” McSwain said in a statement. “It is only natural for members of a tightly knit community to want to take care of one another, but Riehl did not care about anyone but himself.”
Riehl, 68, of Bethel Township, Berks County, is charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud.
Authorities said the scheme is one of the largest Pennsylvania-based alleged Ponzi schemes in history.