News

James Arthur Ray Worth $2.4 Million; Moved Money Between Bank Accounts After Sweat-Lodge Incident, Accountant Claims

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.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
James King
Contact: James King