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James Arthur Ray Deadly Sweat Lodge Ceremony Netted $500K, But He Can't Make Bond, Lawyers Say

(JamesRay.com)
(AP Photo/Yavapai County Sheriff)
(Yavapai County Sheriff)
(AP Photo/Family of Kirby Brown)
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (CBS/AP) Self-help guru James Arthur Ray, who reportedly made close to half-a-million dollars from his "Spiritual Warrior" retreat that turned deadly last October, contends he's broke and cannot afford to post bond in the manslaughter case against him.

Photo: James Arthur Ray.

PICTURES: Sweat Lodge Deaths

Three people died at the sweat-lodge ceremony near Sedona, Ariz. Ray, the self-help guru who built a multi-million dollar empire as a motivational speaker, is facing three counts of manslaughter, and a $5 million bond -- an amount his attorney calls "excessive and oppressive."

Photo: "Sweatbox" structure at Angel Valley Resort.

PICTURES: Sweat Lodge Deaths

"Despite misconceptions perpetrated in the media, Mr. Ray is not a man of significant assets and certainly not the millions reported in the press," his attorneys wrote in documents obtained by The Associated Press from the court.

Ray himself has touted his wealth and success in numerous media interviews and on his Web site, including an estimated $10 million in revenue in 2009 and a seven-figure advance for his book, "Harmonic Wealth" that hit the New York Times Best Sellers List in May 2008.

Photo: James Arthur Ray.

PICTURES: Sweat Lodge Deaths

He told "Fortune Magazine" for an April 2008 article that his financial goal was $21 million a year.

But the court documents paint a much different picture, showing that he is severely in debt with a net worth of negative $4.2 million. Real estate makes up about $3.1 million of Ray's total assets of nearly $4.2 million, but he has little equity.

Photo: Kirby Brown.

PICTURES: Sweat Lodge Deaths

Prosecutors contend Ray recklessly crammed more than 50 participants of his "Spiritual Warrior" event into a 415-square-foot sweat lodge, a sauna-like experience that uses heated stones to cleanse the body and is commonly used by Native American tribes. Many participants have said Ray chided them for wanting to leave, even as people were vomiting, getting burned by hot rocks and lying unconscious on the ground.

Three people died - Kirby Brown, 38, of New York state, James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee; and Liz Neuman, 49, of Minnesota. Eighteen others were hospitalized.

Ray has pleaded not guilty to each of the manslaughter counts. If convicted, he faces up to 12 1/2 years on each count, with probation also possible.

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PICTURES: Sweat Lodge Deaths

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
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October 26, 2009 - Sweat-Lodge Deaths Won't Stop James Arthur Ray, No Mention of $9,000 Per Person Pricetag
October 23, 2009 - Sweat Lodge Hero? Victim May Have Saved Woman Before Dying, Says Participant Beverley Bunn
October 21, 2009 - Sweat Lodge Survivor Beverley Bunn Says James Arthur Ray Played God Before Deadly Ending
October 18, 2009 - Third Death from Sweat Lodge Ceremony Led by James Arthur Ray
October 16, 2009 - Self-Help Guru James Arthur Ray in Crosshairs of Angel Valley Sweat Lodge Homicide Investigation
October 15, 2009 - Desperate 911 Call: First Glimpse Into Angel Valley Sweat Lodge Deaths
October 13, 2009 - Angel Valley Sweat Lodge Deaths: Owner Didn't Have Permits
October 12, 2009 - Sweat Lodge Death Investigation Turns to Self-Help Guru James Arthur Ray
October 12, 2009 - Family Says New Yorker Kirby Brown was in Great Shape before Mysterious Sweat Lodge Death
October 9, 2009 - Angel Valley Resort: Two Dead, Many Hospitalized in Sedona Sweat Lodge Illness
  • Edecio Martinez

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