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Sales pitch replayed in fraud trial

TAMPA - Jurors in Robert W. Snyder's federal fraud trial got to hear his precious metals pitch themselves Wednesday. Snyder's harsh opinions and grim predictions somehow always twisted into advice to buy his newsletter and the precious metals he sold.

Snyder said AIDS would kill millions by the year 2000, ruining the real estate market: "With so many people kicking the bucket, there'll be less demand for houses."

He also blamed AIDS for an impending collapse of Social Security: "There won't be enough people working to pay into the system."

In South Africa, Snyder said, the "international one-world organization" was using racial unrest to create a Marxist government: "If Communists control the platinum of the world, they control our destiny."

The comments came from a recording of a 1987 Indiana radio show.

Alfonse Armin, a retired woodworker from Hobart, Ind., said it was such a program that persuaded him to send Snyder $15,000 for metals he never received.

Snyder, 73, of Safety Harbor is charged with 19 counts of fraud.

Prosecutors say he persuaded dozens of people, many elderly, to buy thousands of dollars worth of gold, silver and platinum he never delivered.

Armin was one of many alleged victims to tell how he swallowed Snyder's advice, but he was the first to bring a cassette tape of Snyder. Snyder was speaking by phone as a guest of an Indiana talk-show host, who praised Snyder as a distinguished conservative commentator.

On the tape, Snyder barely let callers get their first questions out before launching into commentary that always turned back to the economy, the security of precious metals and the availability of "The Bob Snyder Newsletter."

Snyder peppered his speech with vague Bible references and touted his outlooks as truths that government and other media cover up or distort. When not directly pitching investments, Snyder tackled any other topic.

He blamed the National Education Association, a large teachers union, for taking children on field trips to birth control offices and for promoting the hiring of gay teachers.

When a caller raised the issue, Snyder agreed that "illegal aliens are another economic problem draining our resources."

One caller asked why he never received Snyder's newsletter after ordering. Snyder blamed the mail system.

Prosecutors say Snyder used about $50,000 of the money he took in from 1986 to 1988 to repay victims of a similar scheme he ran in the early 1980s and was convicted of in 1983.

But at least $250,000 went into Snyder's pocket, according to the government.

Snyder's trial, which began Monday, is expected to last another week.