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Updated: Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jerome Milton Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Elderly Church Couple, Sentenced to Six Months in Jail

pastor jerome milton

Earlier this year, Jerome Rocky Milton, pastor of Open Door Bible Church in Tyler, Texas, and his son, Jerome Anthony Milton, were indicted on charges of stealing over $30,000 from an elderly church couple through credit card withdrawals and other financial malfeasance.

CBS-19 reported at the time:

A Tyler pastor was accused of taking money from an elderly couple and also opened bank accounts without consent from his previous church to pay personal bills, police documents show. 

Jerome Milton, 65, of Tyler, was charged Saturday with two counts of credit or debit card abuse against the elderly and one count of property theft between $2,500 and $30,000. He remained Friday in the Smith County Jail since his arrest on bonds totaling $550,000. 

Milton is the reverend for Open Door Bible Church in Tyler, and according to the arrest affidavit, Milton was helping take care of an elderly couple at church and had the power of attorney and finances for them.

Another CBS-19 report adds:

The son of a Tyler pastor who is accused of stealing over $30,000 from an elderly couple through credit card withdrawals has been indicted on a similar charge. 

A grand jury handed down an indictment for Jerome Anthony Milton, who is the son of Rev. Jerome Rocky Milton, on a credit or debit card abuse against the elderly charge on March 31.

Rev. Milton, 66, of Tyler, was indicted Dec. 9 on a charge of property theft between $30,000 and $150,000 (against an elderly individual), according to judicial records. 

Police documents show Rev. Milton unlawfully took $30,881.70 from an elderly married couple through multiple check withdrawals from their bank account and ATM transactions. He is then accused of using the funds for his own benefit, such as car payments and hotel rooms in Brownwood.

According to the March 31 indictment, over a seven-month period, the younger Milton fraudulently benefited from using the same elderly couple’s debit cards.

An arrest affidavit stated that Rev. Milton served as the reverend at Open Door Bible Church in Tyler at the time of his arrest, and he was caring for the elderly married couple from his church. He had the power of attorney and finances for the couple.

The woman has impaired memory, while her husband is completely bedridden due to an injury, the affidavit said.

In the affidavit regarding Rev. Milton’s arrest, the document stated that Jerome Anthony Milton was seen making ATM withdrawals from the elderly man’s bank account. 

Rev. Milton told police his son would make withdrawals for him because the elderly man liked to keep cash in his wallet. The elder Milton couldn’t provide a reason why the man, who was bedridden, needed so much cash, the document explained.

October 2021 Black Collar Crime post about Jerome Milton.

Last Thursday, Milton pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months in jail and ten years probation.

CBS-19 reports:

A longtime Tyler pastor, coach and community figure will serve six months in the county jail and 10 years’ probation after pleading guilty to stealing from an elderly couple, his former church and a local nonprofit. 

Through a plea deal Thursday, Rev. Jerome Milton, who leads Open Door Bible Church in Tyler, admitted to using bank transfers and credit cards to steal from two elderly congregation members as well as stealing from the previous church he led and the East Texas Communities Foundation. 

During the hearing in the 114th District Court, Judge Austin Reeve Jackson went over the plea deal, saying that Milton will serve 180 days in the Smith County Jail and 10 years’ probation.

Milton told Jackson he was guilty of property theft worth $30,000 to $150,000 (against an elderly individual), money laundering and enhanced property theft worth $30,000 to $150,000. 


Once released from the county jail, Milton will have a hearing in February to address restitution payments, prosecutors said. 

Police documents obtained in October 2021 state Milton unlawfully took money from congregation members, Wayford and Marilyn Brown, using multiple check withdrawals and ATM transactions while he serving as their power of attorney and finances. 

The document states Milton used the funds he took for car payments and hotel rooms.

In a previous interview with CBS19 in May, Milton denied doing anything illegal as he had legal power of attorney and was taking care of the Browns.

The Browns’ son Darryl Brown said Milton left just 28 cents in his parents’ bank accounts. 

According to the indictments, Milton took between $30,000 and $150,000 from the East Texas Communities Foundation and Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church (now named Greater New Pleasant Hill Baptist Church) from Feb. 2, 2017 to Jan. 5, 2018.

In the indictment for the money laundering charge, Milton is accused of transferring the proceeds from theft, misapplication of fiduciary property, forgery and credit card abuse between bank accounts for just under four years (February 2017 to October 2021).

For 32 years, Milton was the pastor at Greater New Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, where he later retired. He later came out of retirement to lead the Open Door Bible Church. 


Previous police documents mentioned Milton was asked to leave Greater New Pleasant Hill Baptist Church around 2018 by church membership because of “his handling of finances and other suspicious behavior on his part.”

However, Milton in a CBS19 interview said he left Greater New Pleasant Hill Baptist in better shape than it was.

In an affidavit related to Milton’s October arrest, Texas Bank and Trust records for Milton showed he deposited two checks totaling $5,000 written to him from an American State Bank account named Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church.  

Kermit Lane, a deacon with Greater New Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, said the church did not write Milton those checks or any since he left.

Lane said Greater New Pleasant never had a bank account with American State Bank. He also told police the check signatures were from Milton’s personal secretary while at the church, who died early last year, the affidavit read.

The affidavit shows that Lane told police the document Milton produced claiming he had authority to open bank accounts for the church was false. 

The lightness of Milton’s sentence troubles me. I suspect he got the preacher’s discount. Some judges have a hard time doling out lengthy sentences to preachers for crimes such as theft, fraud, and embezzlement, thinking the “atta boys” in their lives outweigh the “aww shits.” Mere mortals such as you and I face lengthy jail time if we commit such crimes.

Does anyone doubt that Milton will g right back to preaching and thieving once he is released from jail? I know I don’t.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    I can’t imagine being elderly and turning over financial access to a pastor…..I feel for those who hold clergy in such high regard and get bitten in the a$$ for that.

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