Hogen Fukunaga, founder of the bankrupt Ho-ho-hana Sanpogyo cult, was ordered Friday to spend 12 years behind bars for swindling 31 people out of nearly 150 million yen under the pretext of religious training fees.
The Tokyo District Court convicted Fukunaga, 60, whose real name is Teruyoshi Fukunaga, of fraud. Prosecutors had demanded that he be jailed for 13 years.
Between 1994 and 1997, Fukunaga and senior cult members examined the bottoms of feet of passers-by and lied that they were suffering cancer and recommended that they undergo religious training in the cult to cure their disease, according to the ruling.
They thus defrauded 31 people out of 149.21 million yen under the pretext of “training fees,” the court found.
During the hearings, Fukunaga had pleaded not guilty to the fraud charges. “What we did was not aimed at making money. I was engaged in activities aimed at saving people…”