Man, 75, told to pay church friends back or serve jail time

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — A Eugene man has pleaded guilty to five counts of aggravated first-degree theft for allegations that he swindled $70,000 from a retired couple he met through his church by convincing them to invest.

The Register-Guard reports that 75-year-old Reweti Whaanga Kewene faces potential incarceration unless he comes up with $70,000 by next May to repay the victims of his investment scheme.

Kewene’s plea agreement calls for him to not serve time behind bars — instead probation — if he pays the victims back.

Police say the victims thought they were investing in short-term, interest-earning opportunities. But when they asked Kewene for interest payments last year, he was unable to provide them with any money.

Police say Kewene later acknowledged that he used some of the money for personal debts.