A Pinellas judge has issued a warrant for the arrest of a Christian radio show host charged with racketeering who didn’t show up for his court date before trial this week.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird issued a warrant Monday for the arrest of Gary Gauthier, 73.
Gauthier hosted a Tampa Bay area Christian radio show called “It’s God’s Money” in the early 2000s in which he persuaded listeners to invest in real estate properties he and a business partner, David Dreslin, had purchased.
Gauthier, who by that point had gone bankrupt four times, drew investors into a Ponzi scheme, prosecutors said. When the housing market collapsed, payments to investors stopped. Prosecutors said Gauthier and Dreslin scammed nearly 40 Tampa Bay residents out of $6 million. The two were arrested in 2014 on charges of racketeering, fraud and unregistered securities.
In March, Dreslin pleaded guilty to three counts of sale of an unregistered security, three counts of selling securities as an unregistered dealer and single counts of racketeering, conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity, organized fraud and securities fraud.
Dreslin’s defense attorney, Jay Hebert, said he and prosecutors are working out the details of a probationary sentence for Dreslin. As part of the sentence, Dreslin has agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution up front and testify in Gauthier’s trial, Hebert said. Dreslin’s case is scheduled for a status hearing in July.
Two of Gauthier’s attorneys, Roger Futerman and Robert Eckard, filed motions to withdraw from the case on Monday, citing ethical conflicts.
Eckard said the ethical conflicts arose Sunday night based on communications with Gauthier, and added that the conflict could have been resolved if Gauthier had attended his court date on Monday. Eckard declined to elaborate on the nature of the ethical conflict, citing attorney-client privilege.
Futerman declined to comment on his motion to withdraw as Gauthier’s attorney, but he described the case as “overcharged” and said Gauthier and Dreslin “set out to make legitimate investments.”
“It’s a case that cries out for reasonable resolution,” Futerman said in a text message.
The judge denied the motions, but will reconsider if Gauthier is taken into custody.