Jail for swindling 'archbishop'

00:02, Oct 04 2012
Henry Alfred Goolsbee
FRAUDSTER: Henry Alfred Goolsbee found guilty of conning a woman of nearly $100,000.

An American "archbishop" living in the Motueka Valley claiming to be able to turn salt water into a super fertiliser has conned a Melbourne woman of her life savings.

The victim, Julie Spicer, who is in her early 60s, lent Henry Alfred Goolsbee $97,985 to write a book, but the American spent the money living in the Cook Islands with his family, a court has heard.

Losing all her money has left Ms Spicer in poor health with nowhere to live.

Goolsbee was sentenced in the Nelson District Court yesterday to two years three months jail.

A Nelson jury found him guilty of obtaining $97,985 by deception. He represented himself in the trial.

On the internet Goolsbee claims to be an archbishop of a celtic anabaptist ministry and maintained yesterday that he was sitting on multimillion technology that involved turning salt water into a super fertiliser.


He said he had no money to repay Ms Spicer now, but was on the verge of selling the product to Nelson customers. The wet winter had hampered him from bringing it to market, he said.

Judge Michael Behrens said Ms Spicer met Goolsbee and his Japanese wife and three children in Melbourne in 2010 after going to his house to buy furniture he had advertised for sale.

Judge Behrens said Goolsbee almost immediately identified the woman as an easy target. 

In a short period of time Ms Spicer had loaned Goolsbee $30,000 and was looking after his two cats.

Judge Behrens said the $30,000 was not included in the theft charge, and Goolsbee also owed her that money.

Goolsbee and his family moved to New Zealand and after a series of emails Ms Spicer forwarded him $97,985 to invest in a book Goolsbee said he was writing.

Goolsbee told her she would double her money.

On July 30 Goolsbee transferred $90,000 into an online account. He took out $70,000 in cash; $60,000 was in $20 notes and the rest was in $50 notes.

The account was overdrawn a few hundred dollars before the deposit.

Judge Behrens said there was no evidence to account for where the money went and by August 2010, Goolsbee and his family were in Rarotonga.

They stayed at a resort for some time.

Goolsbee said in a paper filed in court he was not on holiday but to investigate the suitability of turning sea water into a super nutrient. Goolsbee's book has not been published.

Judge Behrens read parts of the victim impact statement to the court.

Ms Spicer said Goolsbee "gleaned all this information" to target a "60 year-old very vulnerable woman and used their three children and their pets to do so".

She said they used everything to betray her trust and steal her life savings.

Goolsbee said in front of his wife and children he started up co-operatives in struggling communities and then moved on to help other communities.

He also said he was active in animal rescue and that his multimillion dollar company in Australia had been sabotaged and his wife was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and his children were suffering.

"I've worked hard all my life and I've been left with nothing," Ms Spicer said.

Her health was declining and she did not have a home as Goolsbee had taken the deposit for a house.

"He's stolen my future. I believed Mr Goolsbee's lies and I pay an unbearable price every day."

Judge Behrens said Goolsbee had taken the $98,000 plus the $37,000 from the victim and had no income to repay it.

He said Goolsbee wanted to get home detention claiming he would be able to work to repay the Ms Spicer.

Judge Behrens said he sentenced Goolsbee taking into account Goolsbee's practised deception and merciless manipulation of her.

He also considered the life shattering consequences it had on her, and Goolsbee's motivation "which seems to be a good time for you and your family" and the hopeless prospect of Goolsbee repaying any money.

He was not satisfied Goolsbee's remorse was genuine and said Goolsbee's family were also his victims.

Goolsbee would be eligible for parole in nine months. He faces deportation after he finishes his sentence. His family also faces deportation.

Detective John Nicholls, of Motueka, said outside court that New Zealand police were asked to investigate the case after the Melbourne victim contacted a community law centre.

He said the case was unfortunately an example of the old adage if something seemed too good to be true, it probably was.


Claims he is involved in a pioneering effort to spread the message of earth-friendly lifestyles, biodynamic farming and sustainable energy technologies.

Attended high school in California - dropped out at the age of 15.

Could smelt gold, make jewellery and was a skilled photolithographer by 15.

Studied neuro-chemistry and the prevention of criminal behaviour in children.

Built a small jet engine with his best friend weeks after leaving school.

Age 16 worked as a graphic designer on contract for a Warners Bros branch.

Moved to New York, where he worked with the publicity agent for David Bowie, and designed menus for organic food at publicity events.

Designed "airbrushed clothing" at the behest of the Playboy magazine editor. Launched the clothing at New York department store Bloomingdales.

Moved to Costa Rica to help change the world through agrarian reform, returned periodically to California and studied yoga and tai chi chuan.

At 23 was hired as publicity manager of Gaia San Francisco Ballet Company.

At 26 moved to San Francisco and gained attention of Gore Vidal as creator-director of a show on Belingham FM Radio.

Introduced Shiseido Cosmetics company to Maori Komatua [sic] and suggested that Maori grow herbs for the essential oils industry.

Set up a vegan non-smoking restaurant in Tokyo.

Replicas of his jewellery designs are sold for millions annually.

Created a sophisticated perfume from 100 per cent natural oils.

His perfumes were copied after his computer was stolen.

Lived in Japan, researched superconductive materials extracted from seawater in Okinawa.

Built first Quantum Dot Solutions factory, creating a super-nutrient from seawater. This factory was vandalised; $10 million to $12m of product lost when spilt on a field.

Offered a university degree in New Zealand at Otago Polytechnic in recognition of his "lifelong achievements in sustainable innovation".

The Nelson Mail