Trial set for local man who claimed to be African prince facing federal fraud charges

Credit: Butler County Jail

Credit: Butler County Jail

Trial is set for July for a man allegedly claiming to be a Ghanaian prince who with his stepfather ran a church in Dayton and are facing federal charges accusing them defrauding people who thought they were investing in African trucking and mining companies.

Daryl Harrison — court records say he also used the aliases Prophet Daryl R. Attipoe and Prince Daryl R. Attipoe — is in the Butler County Jail after allegedly violating the terms of his pretrial release.

He and his stepfather, Robert Shelly Harrison, of Washington Twp., were indicted in September 2020 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Daryl Harrison is charged with several counts of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and three counts of witness tampering.

Robert Harrison is charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. His trial is scheduled for Sept. 6.

Both men pleaded not guilty. An indictment is an accusation and must be proven in court.

“The evidence will clearly show unequivocally that Robert Harrison knew absolutely nothing about any and all business activities in this matter,” said Robert Harrison’s attorney Jon Paul Rion “He is a hard working citizen and moral person who would not involve himself in any type of unethical behavior whatsoever and the evidence will clearly show it.”

Daryl Harrison’s attorney, Christopher Deal of Dayton, didn’t return a message seeking comment. Trial is set for July 11 in his case.

Robert Harrison in January 2014 registered with Ohio a non-profit called Power House of Prayer Ministries. Court records say PHOP sponsored religious services in various rented church facilities in the Dayton and southwest Ohio area as well as Colorado.

In August 2014 Robert Harrison registered a for-profit company called New Max Groups, LLC, Ohio Secretary of State records show.

Federal prosecutors allege Daryl Harrison “falsely held himself out to be a royal prince from the African nation of Ghana,” and solicited people to invest in purported African trucking operations, and diamond and chromium mines operated under the name Newmax.

Daryl Harrison told investors he had direct connections with these companies and they could expect an investment return of 28% to 33%, according to court records.

The indictment alleges 14 investors, including some in southern Ohio, provided over $800,000 to the Harrisons.

Investment funds were deposited into either church or New Max accounts, according to court records, and the Harrisons used it for such things as rent for a house in Colorado, and the purchase of luxury cars, airplane tickets, hotel accommodations and rental cars. They also allegedly used it to pay other investors and PHOP-related expenses.

Robert Harrison “routinely withdrew thousands of dollars in cash from the bank accounts within days of the deposits being made,” the indictment says.

For much of the time outlined in the federal indictment, Daryl Harrison was still on probation for a 2013 theft conviction in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

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In that case, Centerville police in 2010 found Harrison “peddled fraudulent investments in an African solar and wind energy business known as African Power Initiative, which was purportedly based out of Uganda,” according to federal court records.

Harrison pleaded no contest to the charges in that case and was ordered to pay more than $150,000 in restitution and given five years probation, ending in 2018, according to court records. A term of his probation prohibited him from holding a position in a church or organization where he handled money.

U.S. Secret Service agents served a search warrant in March 2020 at Robert Harrison’s Washington Twp. home. Robert Harrison told agents that PHOP is a ministry that did work in Africa and held services in the Dayton area, but couldn’t describe in detail what work was performed in Africa or info on when or where church services were, according to a report by agents.

Robert Harrison said his son ran the church, and owned a Mercedes, Dodge Viper and Dodge SUV that were in Robert’s name to hide ownership, agents wrote. Robert Harrison said his step-son was born in the U.S. but “adopted by a family in Africa and given the title of prince,” Secret Service agents wrote, but he couldn’t easily remember what country his step-son was a prince from.

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