Man accused of ripping off $1.3M from investors

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- They trusted him, some with their life's savings.

Jeffrey Ray Filla is under arrest and is charged with ripping off at least $1.3 million from 10 investors. According to prosecutors, Filla posed as a securities trader and convinced friends, family and members of his church to give him the money. Even the pastor of that church and his wife invested with Filla. Investigators say he promised substantial returns based on financial records which investigators say he manufactured. The allegation is that Filla used his position of trust at the church, which is not named in court documents, to target his victims.

"He was a worship leader on the worship team. So every Sunday we're looking up at the stage and there he is playing guitar and helping lead worship and this is somebody you feel you should trust," said Mary Carroll.

She says she is among the victims who invested tens of thousands of dollars with Filla. "It was a big disappointment. You feel stupid, you feel used, you feel real disappointed and you feel hurt because this is somebody that's looked you in the eye Sunday after Sunday at church," Carroll said.

According to an indictment, Filla failed to disclose that he moved a significant portion of investor funds into a used car lot he was operating in Rosenberg, "E Auto Direct". Investigators with the Texas State Securities Board believe Filla also made distributions to one investor with funds from another. While doing this he allegedly told investors that "Prophecy Fund LP" was thriving, returning proceeds up to 20 percent. The TSSB states that Prophecy and Auto Direct ran out of money and shut down before Filla filed bankruptcy in June of last year.

Fort Bend Assistant District Attorney Scott Carpenter says investigators have been unable to locate the investors' funds.

Filla refused our request Wednesday for interview in the Fort Bend County Jail where he remains in custody. Attorney Guy Womack says his Filla "...did not take a dollar for himself." Womack says Filla lost his own money also in the investments.
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