Hindu conman gets 27-year prison sentence


A man who once claimed to have thousands of followers around the world will spend much of the remainder of his life in a federal prison.

The FOX 5 I-Team was the first to raise questions about the supposed Hindu spiritual leader who preferred to call himself by the colorful title: Dr. Commander.

The doctor will soon be in command of only a federal prison cell.

His sentence: 27 years and three months.

Judge Timothy Batten handed down the sentence after listening to Dr. Commander -- whose real name is Annamalai Annamalai -- address the court for nearly an hour. He pleaded and begged, cried and moaned, telling the judge, "My god will come to court. My god will send me back to India. That god is you your honor."

God or not, this convicted conman may not live to ever see India again. If he serves his entire sentence he'll be 77 years old when he walks out of prison. Then he'll be sent back to India where his wife has already been deported for her involvement in this case.

"This is one bad apple that I'm happy to see is consigned the prison," said longtime Dr. Commander critic Valmiki Ragunanath.

Despite a 34-count conviction on bankruptcy fraud and money laundering, Dr. Commander refused to admit any crime during his sentencing -- blaming his troubles first on a 2008 FOX 5 hidden camera investigation.

Seven years ago we first revealed how much the Hindu Temple of GA focused on money.

While most Hindu leaders frown on alcohol and beef, we showed how this so-called spiritual leader had no problem renting out his 43-thousand square foot facility for a BBQ and beer bash.

"Could we bring alcohol, beer and wine?" asked our undercover producer.

"Yes, that's fine," said Dr. Commander. "How do you want me to do this?"

"Well, I don't have any money on me now."

"That's fine. You can pay through credit card," he said smiling.

The Temple used a free magazine to promise spiritual help over the phone to others who had credit cards... fixing everything from divorce to Black Magic.

A federal jury agreed Dr. Commander ran up followers' credit cards for thousands of dollars in illegal charges, and when those followers tried to reverse the charges, their leader sued them.

Raghanathan has been sued multiple times by Dr. Commander.

"I think when he got to the federal level the day was getting closer. This is a wave of relief over me today,: he said smiling.

Throughout this three-day sentencing hearing judge Batten patiently allowed Dr. Commander to ramble through his version of media conspiracies and government plots, designed he says to steal his Temple. But when the defendant was slow to respond to prosecutors during cross examination, the judge had enough -- telling Dr. Commander to "answer the damn question."

The judge called Dr. Commander "heartless and worthless," a "pathological manipulating liar and the worst case of obstruction of justice I've ever seen."

He ordered the maximum sentence -- 27 years and three months.

"He was sociopath," said Raghunathan. "That's what I always believed. If you look up the dictionary definition of sociopath, that fits this man to a T."

Acting US Attorney John Horn said "Annamalai perverted the sacred institution of religious by using it as a vehicle for greed and personal profit."

The IRS Criminal Investigation unit spent years developing the case. Dr. Commander was also ordered to be housed at a special prison where he won't be able to use a phone to perpetuate his spiritual scam on new victims.

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