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Retired agent Jerri Williams served in the FBI for 26 years. During most of her Bureau career, she worked major economic fraud investigations targeting financial crimes and corruption.
In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, she reviews the Foundation of New Era Philanthropy investigation, a $350 million charity Ponzi scheme perpetrated against unsuspecting nonprofit organizations, high profiled philanthropists, and beneficiary donors, which resulted in a 12-year prison sentence and multiple forfeitures.
The case and Jerri Williams were featured on the CNBC show, American Greed, Confessions of a Con Man. She received a United States Attorney Award for Distinguished Service for her work on the New Era Philanthropy case, as well as two additional U.S. Attorney Awards for her work on an international advance fee scam, and a business-to-business telemarketing fraud.
Toward the end of her FBI career, Jerri Williams was appointed as the spokesperson for the Philadelphia Division of the FBI, taking on the responsibility of educating and informing the media and public about the Bureau.
Post-FBI retirement, Jerri served as the spokesperson and Director of Media Relations for SEPTA, Philadelphia’s public transportation provider. Both positions often placed her in the spotlight in front of local and national news media. Jerri Williams is the author of two crime novels.
Her novel, Greedy Givers, was inspired by the Foundation of New Era Philanthropy investigation discussed in this episode.
(I’m interviewed by Deana Marie, host of Twisted Philly Podcast. Thanks, Deana!)
Special Agent (Retired)
9/13/1982 – 11/7/2008
The following are links to articles and features about the investigation of John Bennett and the Foundation of New Era Philanthropy:
Philadelphia Articles: John Bennett – New Era Press Release and Philly Articles
Washington Post – 5/20/1995: NEW ERA FOUNDATION: RED FLAGS, RED INK, RED FACES
Wall Street Journal – 8/30/1996: New Era Founder Is Charged In $135 Million Fraud Case
New York Times – 3/27/1997: Head of Bankrupt Charity Fund Pleads No Contest in Fraud Case
SunSentinal – 6/27/1997: Prudential Securities Sued By Trustee – Suit Alleges Firm’s Ties To New Era Enabled Charities Fraud
CNBC’s American Greed — Confessions of a Con Man
To learn more about her FBI career and listen to more episodes featuring her cases, visit Jerri’s About Me page.
I wrote Greedy Givers, a crime novel inspired by the case, to help me resolve unanswered questions about why John Bennett committed this Ponzi scheme.
Greedy Givers can be purchased wherever books are sold.
This was a fascinating documentary that details how some mask philanthropy with greed. I’m not surprised this story was picked up by American Greed. Greedy Givers is a winner!
Thank you! I was a fascinating case.
This case was fascinating. I so enjoyed this case. I still wish you did a case a day, but do understand that’s not so easy, lol. Thank you for sharing how you became confident and sure of yourself in working cases. Sometimes, we, as women, take a bit of time to get our bearings but when we do, we prove to ourselves and others we can do anything. Lol I’m ordering your newest book and can’t wait to read it. Immensely enjoy your podcast.
Thanks Jean! It was fun being on the other side of the interview table. I’m so glad you enjoy the podcast. I think you’ll enjoy Greedy Givers too.