SALISBURY, N.C. -- After a short standoff Saturday evening Salisbury police arrested a man who fraudulently took more than $2.3 million from friends and charities through an investment scheme, Lt. Greg Beam said.
John Knox Bridges, 52, had spent more than a day as a fugitive.
A judge issued an arrest warrant for him Friday after he failed to show up for his federal sentencing hearing.
Bridges had pleaded guilty to securities fraud and money laundering last February. Authorities said they believed him to be driving a charcoal-gray Volvo station wagon.
Police were called to the Maupin Avenue ARP Church at about 5:45 p.m. by a church member who noticed that Bridges’ car was parked outside.
He apparently had keys to the church, Beam said.
Officers found him in a parlor area outside a women’s bathroom.
Bridges was armed with a shotgun, but he surrendered peacefully at about 6:45 p.m. after talking with officers and requesting his mother be brought in, Beam said.
The arrest is the latest entry in a saga that has spanned years.
Bridges, a Charlotte native, reportedly told some friends that he came from a family with a net worth in the billions of dollars and owned a private jet.
But in 2009, an Observer investigation reported that much of what Bridges told people wasn’t true, and that he had been accused of taking money from North Carolina fresco artist Ben Long, the Minnesota-based Lindbergh Foundation and the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer.
Two years later, federal authorities charged him with running an elaborate Ponzi scheme.
The indictment said that Bridges began collecting investors’ money for a fake company known as Logan Investments, which he said would be put toward a company building an oil pipeline. Investors were to receive a quarterly dividend.
Some did, but the money came from Bridges’ personal account using other investors’ money, the indictment alleged. He also persuaded people to lend him $710,000 in 2009 after saying his computer had been hacked.
Bridges faces between 57 and 71 months in prison under the plea deal, and he is required to repay his victims. Beam said Bridges has now been charged with failure to appear in court but faces no other charges connected with his recent arrest.