Former State Representative included in $80 million lawsuit - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former State Representative included in $80 million class action lawsuit

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A former Tennessee legislator is the target of an $80 million class action lawsuit after plaintiffs claimed he tricked them into buying gold by saying it was God's will.

The 47-page lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court is seeking damages for people who claim they were duped by the defendants, including former State Representative Larry Bates.

Bates is First American Monetary Consultants' "chief economist."  He is the first defendant listed in the lawsuit filed by a Covington, Tennessee law firm.

Through a website, a radio program, and conferences called "A Nation in Crisis," the lawsuit claims Bates and FAMC fraudulently convinced customers to buy precious metals like gold and silver coins before, among other things, withholding delivery.

According to the lawsuit, "FAMC specifically targets devout Christian believers, elderly individuals, and widow/widowers with significant life savings" who see Bates as a trusted Christian advisor.

They claimed Bates used Bible verses to solidify his precious metal sales pitch.

"I'm here to help you separate yourself from the masses who will be victims of this inevitable debacle," Bates said on audio recordings.

Plaintiff's attorneys consider recordings evidence of the company's "sky is falling" approach used to swindle what they described as unsuspecting customers.

Covington attorney J. Houston Gordon said Bates' business practices are illegal.

"These are civil allegations," said Gordon.  "There are wrongful acts alleged.  Misinterpretation is alleged.  Fraudulent misrepresentation is alleged.  Conversion of money is alleged."

The 47-page civil complaint claims FAMC either never delivered the precious metals purchased or delivered them only after exorbitant delay.

In response to one such complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau, Bates wrote that the customer had been informed that delivery time would be indefinite, and that the order included a "no whine" policy.

Gordon represents two named plaintiffs, but filed the complaint as a class action lawsuit based on a seven-month investigation that revealed other potential angry customers.

"We do not know how many are out there, but we have some reason to believe that there are hundreds," said Gordon.

Action News 5 contacted Bates at his home in Hardeman County.  He said he had not yet seen the lawsuit, but called the allegations, "pure nonsense."

Bates said the lawsuit was motivated by a disgruntled former employee and political opponents.  He said he has a team of lawyers working on the case.

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