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Ex-Hindu Temple leader sentenced for fraud | Crime

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Ex-Hindu Temple leader sentenced for fraud
Crime, News
Ex-Hindu Temple leader sentenced for fraud

ATLANTA -- The former leader of the now defunct Hindu Temple of Georgia will spend 27 years and three months in prison after being convicted on a number of federal charges.

Annamalai Annamalai was found guilty last August of 34 counts, including bank fraud, tax fraud, bankruptcy fraud and obstruction. He is also now forbidden from offering spiritual services in exchange for money.

Prosecutors said Annamalai, a self-proclaimed "priest" and "child prodigy," convinced his victims they needed spiritual guidance and had to pay him in order to receive it. He then charged the victims' credit cards multiple times in excess of the agreed amounts.

When the victims disputed the extra charges, Annamalai provided the credit card companies with false documents that justified the purchases. He also manipulated audio recordings to make it sound like the victims agreed to pay the charges, according to information presented in court.

Prosecutors said Annamalai, 49, used the stolen money to fund his personal lifestyle, which included several homes, cars and foreign bank accounts.

The bankruptcy fraud conviction stems from Annamalai's role in the Hindu Temple of Georgia's petition for bankruptcy protection in August 2009. Annamalai hid receipts and donations from creditors, then used bankruptcy proceeds to pay mortgages on properties he owned.

Annamalai was also found guilty of obstruction and false statements for sending a fraudulent email to an IRS agent. The email was made to look like it came from a witness to the criminal investigation into the temple.

Following the sentencing, a federal judge recommended Annamalai be placed in a Communications Management Housing Unit, where all his phone calls and electronic communications from prison will be monitored.

A co-defendant, 34-year-old Kumar Chinnathambi, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud. He will be sentenced at a later date.

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