Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Robbie Conn Stands Accused of Social Security Fraud

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The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

William “Robbie” Conn, pastor of Jeffersonville Assembly of God in Jeffersonville, Kentucky, along with his wife Tonya, stand accused of Social Security fraud.

Lex-18 reports:

A federal grand jury indicted a Montgomery County pastor and his wife. Both are accused of committing fraud involving the Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare programs.

The indictments for William “Robbie” Conn and his wife Tonya came down earlier this month in United States District Court for the the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington.

They allege Conn and his wife defrauded the government programs of more than $100,000 over six years.

The court documents said William Conn, a longtime pastor at Jeffersonville Assembly of God, learned he had a heart problem that required surgery in May 2009.

According to the indictment, Conn applied for Social Security Disability, and it was granted.

The indictment alleges the church board then agreed to pay William Conn’s salary to his wife Tonya. In doing so, “William ‘Robbie’ Conn could receive social security benefits, while still receiving a salary from Jeffersonville Assembly of God,” the indictment states.

It goes on to allege Conn continued to receive benefits while working until 2015.

Conn and his wife both face seven counts each with a possible five years of prison time or more for each count.

We reached out to Conn and his wife several different times but never heard back.

Churchgoers said off-camera that they were shocked by the allegations. One said Conn called the accusations “not true” at a service Wednesday night.

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9 Comments

  1. Troy

    I don’t think the government has much of a case here. All the Conns need to do is assert that wifey took over the ministry while hubby was ill with a heart condition. If the government monitored them carefully it might be possible to show that the hubby was doing the “job” and wifey was idling away, but even with constant surveillance that would be hard to prove conclusively.

    Reply
    1. Don

      True but even if he was ministering they would have to prove she didn’t deserve the salary. So if she was active in the ministry it would be perfectly fine for her to receive a salary and him to wave his.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        The issue is motive, and their motive was to game the social security system.

        Reply
        1. Damon Caudill

          How can you say there motive was to game. He got a heart transplant. This wasn’t like the person claiming his back is bad getting caught jogging. His heart was replaced . He could not fulfill his duties she stepped in and the church paid her .

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            He was doing the work but his wife got paid for it. If the church continued to pay him he would not have been eligible social security disability. He and his wife attempted to game the system and got caught. Such money schemes are common among clergymen. One scam — albeit a legal one — was for pastors with families to take their salaries as housing allowances (which are tax free). This allowed them to get huge EIC refunds. The abuse was so bad that the IRS had to change the law regarding the EIC. Pastors can and do break the law, just as any of us can.

            Look, a grand jury indicted the pastor and his wife. Evidently, the evidence was such that it warranted criminal charges. The pastor and his wife may be fine people, but based on the above news report they received money they shouldn’t have received. If you have evidence to the contrary, you should contact the prosecutor (Or defense) and give them your evidence.

  2. Sharon

    Bruce you evidently do not know Brother Conn and his family.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      This series focuses on public news reports. As far as my comment about motive, I know more than a few pastors and wives who have played the game the Conn’s are accused of playing. No pastor is so pure and holy that he cant be tempted to do what this couple is accused of doing.

      By all means, if it is reported that they were found innocent, please let me know and I’ll amend the story. Until then, everything stands as written.

      Reply
  3. Missy

    You may want to revise this. He and his wife both found NOT GUILTY. All charges dropped.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Do you have a link to a news report that states this?

      Reply

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