As "spiritual warrior" James Ray's lawyers fight to have his bail reduced, an accounting-fraud expert testified yesterday that the "self-help guru," who organized a sweat lodge event that left three people dead and dozens injured, is worth more than $2 million.
That's funny, just last week Ray's lawyers claimed he was broke.
After being charged with three counts of manslaughter, Ray's bail was set at $5 million, and for the last three weeks, his lawyers have been petitioning the court to have it reduced.
Despite charging participants about $10,000 each to attend his self-help events, Ray's lawyers claimed he couldn't afford such a pricey bond.
The accountant, Richard Echols, while testifying on behalf of the prosecution, claimed that Ray was not broke but worth about $2.4 million -- and that's a conservative estimate, the Associated Press reports.
After the Sedona sweat lodge tragedy, Echols says, Ray moved money around from several bank accounts, including $1 million in lawyer fees that weren't included the $2.4 million estimate.
There were other assets that Echols says couldn't be accounted for, and the values of Ray's cars and office furnishings may increase the estimate.
The $2.4 million figure, Echols testified, includes "more than $500,000 in trust funds, $240,000 in retirement accounts, equity in properties, and a $1.5 stock value in a company Ray created in 2009 to purchase a Beverly Hills mansion."
That mansion, which Ray put up for sale after the sweat-lodge incident, was purchased by Ray for about $4 million in 2008. Unfortunately for Ray, a bail bondsman recently estimated the house is now worth $200,000, Ray's attorney tells the AP (though we find it hard to believe that the value of the house could drop by $3.8 million in less than two years).
Ray's digs for the last three weeks have been far less glamorous than a house in Beverly Hills, regardless of its worth. Since he claims he can't post the $5 million bond, Ray has been bedding down behind bars, which he may have to get used to considering that, if he's convicted, he faces up to 12 1/2 years in prison for each manslaughter count.