Former pastor pleads to federal felony charges

FLORENCE, S.C. (AP) - A former Conway pastor has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from a Ponzi scheme in which people were bilked out of $2.5 million.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports 41-year-old Archie Larue Evans entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Bryan Harwell in Florence on Wednesday.

Evans pleaded to mail fraud and a charge of structuring financial transactions to evade the reporting bank deposits of more than $10,000. Evans is the former pastor of Tilly Swamp Baptist Church and faces 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Prosecutors say he convinced church members and others to invest in a company he ran promising high rates of interest. They say he lost or spent the money, but prepared false financial statements showing high returns.