Tag Archive: Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Commits Insurance Fraud to Pay For His Drug Habit

pastor justin white

Justin White, pastor of First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana was arrested today on “felony charges of insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

The Republic reports:

A Columbus pastor who claimed his family was robbed of about $11,000 in cash and valuables while he was preaching at church has been arrested on felony charges of insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Justin K. White, 38, 3255 Sunrise Drive, senior minister at First Christian Church since May 2011 is accused of arranging with a juvenile to stage the Dec. 18 burglary at his Skyview Estates home on the city’s northeast side in order to file an insurance claim for the lost items, court documents in the case state.

White is accused of having the burglary staged to obtain money from his insurance company to pay a drug debt, court documents state. The charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor relates to White being accused of seeking to have a juvenile commit an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, dealing in a narcotic drug.

White was arrested at 6:45 p.m. Friday at his home by Columbus Police detectives, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman. The charges were filed late Friday afternoon at the Bartholomew County Courthouse, from where a warrant for White’s arrest was issued soon thereafter.

According to White’s bio on the First Christian website: (link no longer active)

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always anticipated the Sunday morning worship gathering. There’s something thrilling that takes place when God’s people come together to offer our best to the Lord in praise, in fellowship, and in study. One of the most powerful parts of the worship service is when we open the Scriptures together to hear from God Himself. I feel humbled to stand and deliver messages from the Bible; it’s a role that I don’t take lightly, but am so thankful for the opportunity. By nature, I’m a teacher/preacher. I love the Scriptures, and I desire to help others grow in their understanding of its pages as well. My goal at the end of every sermon is not that the congregation remembers a joke, a story, or a particular phrase; my goal is for us all to come to know Christ in a clearer, fuller way.

One of my favorite word-pictures for the Church is found in 1 Corinthians 12:12 when Paul writes, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body…” I believe that Jesus Christ is the head of the church…the rest of us form the body. Out of this teaching, I believe the best way to lead is by serving together as a team. I believe that God has given me the gift to preach and communicate His Word, but that gift is not any more important than any other gift of the Spirit. As every part of the body plays a significant role, so every person in the Church is significant as well.

If you are new to the area or simply new to our church, I’d love to get to know you. I think you’ll find FCC a warm, welcoming place to connect with God and with others. Since arriving in Columbus in May of 2011, my wife, Michelle, and I have been so blessed and encouraged by such a loving and growing group of believers. We have three children–(names removed), and a Yorkie we’ve named Oliver. We love to travel, hike, play sports, eat, and share life with others. We are also die-hard fans for the Colts, Reds, and Indiana Hoosiers!

If there is a way I can help you along your spiritual journey, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We’d love to walk with you!

White’s home was “burglarized” on December 18, 2016 while he was busy preaching the word of God.  WTHR-13 reported at the time:

While Pastor Justin White and his family were at church Sunday, someone burglarized their Columbus home, stealing about $11,000 in valuables.

They also took something special from one of his children, and now children are helping to replace it.

At First Christian Church in Columbus, while Justin White spent Sunday in the sanctuary, thieves were preying on the pastor’s home.

“I was here preaching. We have two services,” Pastor White explained. “Everything was going on as normal and then we went home.”

The family noticed the garage door was open to their home. They soon learned someone broke in and ransacked the place sometime between 8:30 and noon.

“The fact that somebody knew where we were and chose Sunday morning to come in? It’s hard. It’s hard to swallow,” said Pastor White’s wife, Michelle.

“We went in and my son looked up and saw that our tv was gone and he said, ‘we’ve been robbed!’ Then we started walking through the house and we realized they had taken so much,” Pastor White said.

The criminals stole more than $11,000 worth of valuables, electronics, small appliances and jewelry, plus something even more personal from (name removed), the family’s youngest.

“She uses a big plastic bottle as a piggy bank and she said, ‘dad! My money’s gone’,” Pastor White said. “It was all gone except for one quarter. They left one quarter there. The rest was gone.”

The bottle was filled with change that the 7-year-old had saved to buy Christmas gifts, earned through chores over several months.

“As a mom, that’s really hard. She’s heartbroken and that’s when I get angry and frustrated,” Michelle said. “I can handle the stuff that was taken from us, but my kids are hurting and that’s the hardest part.”

But then this family had something amazing happen.

They started receiving bags full of coins, donated from neighbors and church members – not from the adults, but from the children.

“Ziploc bags full of coins to be put back in my daughter’s piggy bank,” Pastor White said. “One was anonymous. Another was from a staff member. A mom brought her two preschool daughters over and they had bags full of coins for (name removed). The fact that it comes from a child to a child makes it special.”

“That was the first moment that I cried yesterday when they showed up at our door wanting to give,” Michelle said.

….

He’s [White] also forgiven the thieves and says they’re always welcome in the house where he works – the house of God.

“There’s another way. You don’t have to live like this,” Pastor White said. “I feel for whoever did this.”

I guess White’s statement, “There’s another way. You don’t have to live like this. I feel for whoever did this.” has taken on a whole new meaning.

Update

The Republic added the following to their story:

However, as Columbus Police detectives looked into the burglary allegation, they determined there were no signs of forced entry at the home. The front door and two other doors on the ground floor were unlocked and undamaged, they said. And the thief or thieves had left untouched wrapped gifts under the family’s Christmas tree.

Officers later learned after obtaining a search warrant that White made a claim for the burglary loss the same day he reported it through the Cincinnati Insurance Co, seeking $11,460.75 in compensation, court documents state.

In an unrelated investigation, Columbus detectives obtained a search warrant for the home of the parents of the juvenile who was involved, who is only identified by initials in the court documents. The juvenile told officers that he had an addiction problem and had just gotten out of rehabilitation, court documents state. After repeatedly denying that he had burglarized White’s house, he told officers, “Justin has a very bad drug problem, too, and he’s been asking me to get him things for him since I was 15 years old on house arrest,” court documents state.

The juvenile said the “things” were drugs, specifically pain pills and heroin, court documents state.

The accused accomplice said he had met White for spiritual counseling when placed on house arrest at age 15 or 16 for possession of marijuana, court documents stated. White would come to the boy’s house at lunch time while both of his parents were at work, court documents state.

On his second visit, White asked if the boy could get him some marijuana for his aunt who had cancer, court documents stated. During the third counseling session, White asked for prescription pain pills; and eventually, White asked the boy to obtain heroin for him, court documents states.

At the time of the burglary, White owed the juvenile about $1,000, and had met with the juvenile in his car at a business parking lot to set up the burglary, court documents state.

White originally wanted the juvenile to do the burglary Dec. 16 while he was in Ohio for his grandmother’s funeral, but the juvenile rejected the idea because of the short notice, court documents states.

On the day of the burglary, the boy went to the White house with another juvenile, a female, who knocked on the door and the two walked in because it was unlocked. A pile of items was where White had told them it would be, court documents said, except for a large television which was also part of the deal White had made with the youth, court documents state.

The boy told detectives his primary way of communicating with White was through Facebook Messenger, with White deleting the messages after they were read, court documents states.

When detectives called White in to tell him that they had recovered some of the family’s property, officers read him his rights and asked him about his relationship with the male juvenile, court records state.

White told detectives that he had been meeting with the boy about drug-related matters — around the same time White had been seeing a doctor for headaches, and was put on hydrocodone, the court records state.

“And, uh, I had that first pill and I wanted the whole bottle,” White told investigators, court records state.

The doctor continued to refill White’s prescription and he told investigators he became addicted, court records state.

White told detectives he met with one of the accused accomplice’s friends, who was a dealer, and White began buying drugs from him, court records said.

“I’m not proud of this now. It was horrible,” he told detectives, court records state.

White admitted to detectives that on a Sunday night, July 27, 2015 he overdosed on heroin and Columbus Police officers administered naloxone, a drug-overdose antidote, which saved his life but resulted in White being sent to treatment at a Hazelden addiction-treatment center in Minnesota for 32 days in August 2015, court documents state.

White told investigators he was clean after the treatment and had been off drugs ever since, court records state.

During the interview, detectives repeatedly questioned White about his interactions with the juvenile boy and specifically about their communication on Facebook. During the interview, White repeatedly denied setting up the burglary and denied he had relapsed on drugs, court records state.

In January, detectives interviewed another juvenile male, who told them that White had messaged him on Facebook when the accused burglary accomplice was incarcerated in a juvenile detention center and had asked the second male juvenile to obtain pain pills for him, court records state.

That juvenile then began regularly selling pain pills to White along with heroin, court documents stated.

The second male juvenile told detectives that when White was on vacation and he needed drugs, White would send him to the his residence with the password to the garage and was told to get certain items to pawn or trade to the drug dealer, court records state. The boy would then drive to where White was vacationing to deliver the drugs, court records state.

Second Update

From a Sunday, March 26, 2017 The Republic report:

Justin K. White, senior minister at First Christian Church in Columbus, has resigned.

First Christian Church elders used Sunday morning services to announce White’s decision — which was submitted during a meeting with elders March 12, and accepted by them the next day.

White, who was arrested by Columbus police and charged Friday with two felonies — insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, had planned to tell the congregation during services today of his resignation, and explain what he’s been going through the past two years, said Steve Wiggins, chairman of the church’s elder board.

However, with the events that unfolded Friday — White’s arrest, filing of criminal charges against him, and his jailing — Wiggins made the announcement instead of White, he said.

During services this morning, church leaders explained their decision to wait on announcing White’s resignation until most church members returned to normal routines following the two-week spring break from school, with classes resuming Monday.

Wiggins said White told elders he decided to resign because it would be best for the church and himself, Wiggins said.

Third Update

The Republic reports:

A trial date has been set for a former Columbus pastor facing two felonies involving a burglary he is accused of staging at his home.

A plea of not guilty was entered for Justin K. White, 38, 3255 Sunrise Drive, who appeared Thursday in Bartholomew Circuit Court for an initial hearing before Judge Kelly Benjamin.

The judge set White’s jury trial date for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 5, and a pre-trial hearing was set for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 7.

White listened as Benjamin read the charges against him, felony insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which stem from a burglary White is accused of staging Dec. 18 at his Skyview Estates home.

White is accused of filing an insurance claim for the burglary when he staged it to obtain money to pay a drug debt, court records state. The charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor relates to White begin accused of seeking to have a juvenile commit an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, dealing in a narcotic drug.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Ken Adkins Turns Down Plea Deal

pastor ken adkins

Seven months ago, Ken Adkins, pastor of Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship in Brunswick, Georgia was arrested and charged with “three counts of child molestation, five counts of aggravated child molestation, two counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes and one count of influencing a witness.” Adkins defense rests not on his innocence, but his contention that the victim was an adult when he sexually took advantage of them. Right victim, wrong year.

News 4 Jax reports:

Pastor Ken Adkins, who has been in a Glynn County jail for seven months on charges he molested a teenage boy six years ago, turned down a plea deal Friday.

Prosecutors offered Adkins a sentence of five to 30 years if he were to plead guilty to child molestation, but his defense team turned it down. Adkins has said he is innocent of all charges.

Adkins, 56, a pastor of the Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship, was denied bond in September on child-molestation charges, and indicted by the Glynn County grand jury last month on three counts of child molestation, five counts of aggravated child molestation, two counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes and one count of influencing a witness.

….

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a young man told investigators that Adkins molested him in 2010 when he was a member of Adkins’ church as a boy younger than 16.

Prosecutors said they not only have explicit text messages and photos sent from Adkins phone, they also have a young woman’s testimony in which she makes allegations of sex crimes. The woman, who was in the youth ministry at Adkins’ church at the time, said that Adkins watched her and a teenage boy have sex in a Brunswick hotel several years ago.

The woman says after the incident, Adkins touched her inappropriately.

Adkins’ attorney, Kevin Gough, argued that the alleged incident didn’t take place in 2009, but instead a few years later, when the boy called a victim in the case was an adult.

“The charges set forth in the indictment allege that the crimes took place when he was under the age of 16, so the timeline is very important to this,” Gough said. “He has maintained his innocence, and we look forward to his day in court.”

A judge said he is also taking into consideration the account of a police officer, who interviewed the victim and the young woman and Adkins during his investigation, before he makes a ruling on what evidence will be admissible when the trial begins April 3.

In Georgia, aggravated child abuse is considered a capital crime. While the death penalty is not considered likely, Adkins could face up to life in prison if convicted.

You might remember that Adkins is one of the pastors who said the Pulse Club victims got exactly what they deserved.

ken adkins quote

 

Black Collar Crime: 78-Year-Old Baptist Pastor Charged with Possession of Child Pornography

pastor james rankin

James Rankin, a pastor associated with Bellevue Baptist Church in Hurst, Texas has been charged with the possession of child pornography. The Star-Telegram reports:

A Hurst associate pastor faces a child pornography charge after he took his computer to a Best Buy store, according to a Hurst Police Department news release.

Store employees called police about 8:40 p.m. Thursday after finding what appeared to be child pornography on a customer’s computer, according to the news release. After investigating, police arrested and charged the owner of the computer, 78-year-old James Rankin, with possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony. Bond was set at $5,000.

The news release said Rankin is an associate pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Hurst, which lists him as a staff member on its website.

According to Rankin’s bio on the Bellevue Baptist website:

James was a retired pastor before being called to his present ministry. He served churches in Tennessee, Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas. He served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1980. He has degrees in Bible, Theology, Counseling, Church Administration and Communication.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2012. They have two children and two grandchildren. They presently live in Hurst.

James is a lifelong ferroequinologist (model railroader).

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Accused of Stealing $450,000

busted

David Fisher, former pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Owosso, Michigan has been accused of stealing $450,000. M Live reports:

A Catholic church in Shiawassee County is reeling after it was discovered the former pastor there is accused of stealing nearly $500,000.

The Rev. David Fisher was in charge of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Owosso for 23 years and retired to North Dakota in June 2015.

A new pastor was brought in and noticed some figures were off with the parish’s finances, according to Michael Diebold, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Lansing.

“They started seeing some anomalies,” Diebold said. “It became obvious real soon that there was something amiss.”

The Diocese contacted the Michigan State Police and it was recommended a forensic audit, Diebold said.

The audit revealed there was $450,000 missing, according to Diebold.

Fisher was arrested in North Dakota on suspicion of seven counts of embezzlement, Michigan State Police Detective/Sgt. Mark Pendergraff said.

The investigation into the suspected thefts can only go back six years due to the statute of limitations, according to Pendergraff.

Fisher was charged with a count of embezzlement of over $100,000 from a charitable organization and the other six counts of for alleged embezzlement of lesser amounts, Pendergraff said.

Church secretary Nancy DeFrenn also was arrested, according to Pendergraff. She is charged with a single count of embezzlement from a charitable organization of more than $1,000 but less than $20,000.

“We didn’t give out specifically what they were using the money for, but they converted it for personal use — things like paying bills and other things,” Pendergraff said.

Fisher is fighting extradition back to Michigan, according to Pendergraff. A hearing on the extradition is set for March 29.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Antonio Jones Charged With Sexual Battery

pastor antonio jones

Antonio Jones, pastor of Kingdom Harvest Church International in Roanoke, Virginia, was arrested last week and charged with aggravated sexual battery against two juveniles. The Roanoke Times reports:

Antonio Jones, 47, was arrested March 17. Jones, who has no middle name listed, was released on bond Tuesday.

Jones is listed as founder of Kingdom Harvest Church International in northwest Roanoke on the church’s Facebook page, which describes Kingdom Harvest as “a multi-cultural, non-denominational church” with more than 150 members.

A call to the church Thursday afternoon was not returned, and no one answered the door there.

According to Roanoke Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court records, the offenses are alleged to have occurred against the first subject sometime between 2008 and 2010, when the juvenile would have been younger than 13.

Jones also is accused of committing indecent liberties against that subject.

The second case is alleged to have occurred between 2009 and 2011, involving someone in their early teens.

According to WDBJ-7, the church is standing by their man:

A Roanoke pastor is out of jail and has the full support of his church.

Antonio Jones was arrested and charged with sexual misconduct against underage family members. Those claims date back to 2008.

Jones was released after posting a $5,000 bond on Tuesday.

On Wednesday night, several members of Jones’ church told us they were shocked at the charges.

Antonio Jones founded Kingdom Harvest Church International in 2007, according to the church Facebook page.

This story has gotten traction online with a number of members coming to Jones’ defense, calling him a “Man of God” and saying the Kingdom Harvest church family will get through this. The church posted a status earlier today which read, “UNITED WE STAND”

One member, who didn’t wish to be identified or shown on camera told WDBJ7, “This is church business that we doing here and the case is going to be city and court business. All we have to do is wait for the trial to end and other than that he hasn’t been convicted, it’s a trial.”

Update

The Roanoke Times reported on September 1, 2017:

A Roanoke pastor accused of sexually assaulting two juveniles saw the charges against him certified on Friday, and the case will now go before a grand jury.
Antonio Jones, 48, was arrested March 17 and is charged with two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of committing indecent liberties.
At a preliminary hearing on Friday, both of his accusers gave testimony outlining their claims against him. The Roanoke Times does not identify people who report sexual assaults.

The offenses are alleged to have occurred separately between 2008 and 2011, when the first subject was about 12 years old and the second was a young teen. The two complainants know each other but said they did not tell anyone about their allegations for several years until they decided to speak to police in the summer and fall of 2016.
Jones and his defense attorney, Jonathan Kurtin, did not present any evidence at the hearing. In cross-examining the two witnesses, Kurtin pressed them for additional details and time frames, but they often said they were unable to be more specific.
Roanoke Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Frank Rogers heard testimony from the two complainants for about an hour before deciding he found probable cause to certify all three charges. The cases will now be evaluated by a grand jury, likely in October.

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Michael Baker Charged With Domestic Violence

pastor michael baker

Michael Baker, pastor of Greater St. Luke Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina was charged Wednesday with third-degree criminal domestic violence. The State reports:

The pastor of a Columbia church and a chaplain for local police has been charged with criminal domestic violence.

Michael Henry Baker, 55, was booked at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on Wednesday and charged with third-degree criminal domestic violence.

Baker is the pastor of Greater St. Luke Baptist Church on Farrow Road. He served as a chaplain for both the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Columbia Police Department but, since his charge, has been relieved of his duties by both agencies, spokespeople said.

Baker’s charge comes after an officer responded to two incidents within the past week between Baker and his wife, according to incident reports provided by the sheriff’s department.

On March 16, a deputy responded to the couple’s home on Hunt Club Road just before 10 p.m. According to the report, Baker’s wife said he was keeping her phone from her. When his wife repeatedly asked him to give it to her, he pushed her to the floor twice, causing her to hit her head and injure her hand, she told the officer.

His wife went to a neighbor’s house to call 911 and later filled out a criminal domestic violence statement but “didn’t want Mr. Baker to go to jail,” the report said.

And on March 20, a deputy again arrived at the home, where Baker was sitting in his wife’s car preventing her from leaving, according to the incident report. His wife said she had come to pick up some of her belongings and leave but Baker wouldn’t let her. She also said that Baker had changed the locks on the doors and hadn’t given her a new key to the house, the report said.

Baker’s bio on Greater St. Luke Baptist’s website states:

Pastor Michael H. Baker delivers a profound impact to the Kingdom of God. He inherently inspires and insistently motivates others to operate in a spirit of excellence, while using their gifts and talents for the Glory of God.

Pastor Baker received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Florida Theological Seminary and has attended Oxford University in England in pursuit of obtaining a Masters of Divinity.

A true Man of God, Pastor Baker’s national ministry and international involvement are consistent in a community based work that reaches the heart of God’s people. Presently, he is the Senior Pastor of the Greater St. Luke Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina.  He is the Executive Director of the Light of The World Economic Community Development Corporation. This non-profit corporation assists in sponsoring and promoting religious, educational and community events.

Since advancing to South Carolina, this visionary leader is involved with a wide variety of organizations including, but not limited to, the NAACP, The South Carolina Baptist Congress of Christian Education, co-founder of The Midlands Baptist Ministerial Alliance, Richland County Sheriff’s Department Chaplains Division and former member of the 100 Black Men of Greater Columbia. He is the founder of the Annual Pastor’s Cup Golf Tournament and serves on the Executive Board of the National Action Network under the leadership of Reverend Al Sharpton and is a co-sponsor of the A&M Leadership Conference.

Pastor Baker has a zest and zeal for our youth and the community. He can be quoted in saying “My concern is for our children. Pastor Baker founded the Greater Columbia Holistic Enrichment Development Summer Program that offers academic, music and computer training. Pastor Baker also served as the Chairman for the first Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance City Wide Revival. This revival brought people of all denominations together as well as helped to eradicate the debt of two families victimized by gang violence. As a community leader, every year a portion of the proceeds from the Pastor’s Cup Golf Tournament are used to educate and empower the homeless in our community.

His passion for empowerment and education birthed numerous classes at Greater St. Luke Baptist Church. Various classes on Christian Education are offered in Greater St. Luke’s new state of the art 2.5 million dollar M. L. Smith Community Development Center.

Pastor Baker is a nationally known Evangelist and the renowned Author of “How to Build Without Borrowing”, which he presently teaches as a course of study during the National Baptist Convention’s Congress of Christian Education. Pastor Baker has served on the National Baptist Convention’s Late Night Service Staff. He is a lecturer and a former instructor in the Gethsemane Baptist Association.

Most importantly, Pastor Baker is a family man, a native of Jacksonville, Florida and the son of the late Reverend Dr. and Mrs. Henry L. Baker.  He is married to the former Min. Darlene Hunter, a devoted father to Michael and Michelle and a loving grandfather of two grandchildren.

 

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Convicted of Bank Fraud

Hien Minh Nguyen

Hien Minh Nguyen, former pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in San Jose, California and the director of the Vietnamese Catholic Center was convicted Tuesday of bank fraud. The Mercury News reports:

Prosecutors said Nguyen received donations from parishioners at St. Patrick’s, some of which he deposited into his bank account, and also signed checks from the VCC’s bank accounts to pay his expenses.

In addition, Nguyen deposited 14 separate checks made payable to the VCC into his bank account.

Nguyen, who was charged with 14 counts of bank fraud in December 2015, pleaded guilty on Tuesday. In August 2016, he also pleaded guilty to four counts of tax evasion.

The maximum penalty for bank fraud is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine or twice the gain or loss from the offense. Tax evasion carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In 2016, Forbes reported:

A Catholic Priest from the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, California has pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Father Hien Minh Nguyen, age 56, admitted that over a period of four years, he stole money from his parishioners. He took the money parishioners had donated to the Diocese for himself. And, from 2008 through 2011, he willfully evaded paying income taxes on it.

Although the money was for the church, Father Nguyen admitted that he deposited it into his personal bank account. Then, he did not tell his income tax return preparer about it. He did not keep records of the donations he stole, and he filed false income tax returns that did not report the money. Although the Priest plead guilty to the tax charges, Father Nguyen has pleaded not guilty to the bank fraud charges. So those charges remain pending.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Joel Waltz Charged with Sexual Exploitation

pastor joel waltz

According to a report in the Boone Republican News, Joel Waltz, one time youth pastor of Grace Community Church in Boone, Iowa, has been charged with “sexual exploitation by a counselor of therapist, a Class D felony.” The Republican News article states:

A former Boone youth pastor, accused of having inappropriate contact with a now-20-year-old woman off-and-on since she was 16, was arrested Monday after turning himself in to Story County Jail, police said.

Joel M. Waltz, 47, is charged with sexual exploitation by a counselor of therapist, a Class D felony.

According to Ames Police Cmdr. Geoff Huff, the victim met Waltz when she was 11, and used to meet with him on a regular basis until she was 18. Huff said that the victim described Waltz as a father figure, before he confessed his love for her when she turned 16.

Huff said the two began a sexual relationship that occurred in several locations around Boone and Ames, where the victim lived.

Waltz resigned from his position at Grace Community Church in March 2016, shortly after the allegations were brought against him.

Notes

Grace Community Church Facebook page

2013 Iowa Living Magazine about Joe Waltz

Update

On December 6, 2017, Grayson Schmidt, a reporter for The Ames Tribune reported:

A former Boone youth pastor who pleaded guilty to having inappropriate contact with a now 20-year-old woman off-and-on since she was 16, was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday, according to Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds.

Joel Mark Waltz, 47, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in October, a week before he was set to go to trial.

Waltz was arrested in late March and originally charged with sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist, a Class D felony.

According to Ames Police Cmdr. Geoff Huff, the woman met Waltz when she was 11 years old, and met with him on a regular basis until she was 18. Huff said the woman described Waltz as a father figure before he confessed his love for her when she turned 16.

….

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jose Aboytes Charged With Sexual Assault

pastor jose aboytes

Jose Aboytes, assistant pastor of Palabra Miel Hispanic Church in Decatur, Illinois was charged yesterday with “seven felony counts for allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulting and abusing a girl younger than 13 during a period of seven months.”

Herald & Review reports:

Jose Luis Aboytes, a former pastor of a church on the city’s east side, was charged Thursday in Macon County Circuit Court with seven felony counts for allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulting and abusing a girl younger than 13 during a period of seven months.

Aboytes, 58, who is being held in the Macon County Jail on $250,000 bond, is facing one count of predatory criminal sexual assault, punishable by six to 60 years in prison, two counts of criminal sexual assault and four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The victim told police she attended the Palabra Miel Hispanic Church, 3434 E. Wabash Ave., where Aboytes “began to sexually abuse her in an office in the church” about Sept. 16, 2015, said a request for an arrest warrant by Decatur Police detective Erik Ethell.
….
The victim said the abuse “began with Jose touching her leg and progressed to sexual intercourse,” said the court document. The victim said that during choir practice “Jose would call her into his office,” where he would fondle and abuse her. She reported that the abusive conduct occurred during a period of several months. The adolescent girl told police she “took numerous cellphone photographs of her naked body and sent them to Jose’s phone.”

Detectives received more than 10 letters from the girl, in which Aboytes “expressed his love” for the victim, “in addition to knowing her age,” Ethell wrote in the court document. Aboytes “frequently asked (the victim) to destroy the letters after reading them.”

An intellectually disabled teen girl also reported to police that she had been abused by Aboytes, said the warrant request. She said that Aboytes would call her into his office, hug her and fondle her on top of her clothes. She told detectives that “Jose told her not to tell her parents about the conduct.”

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Trevon Gross Convicted of Conspiracy and Bribery

pastor trevon gross

Trevon Gross, pastor of Hope Cathedral in Jackson, New Jersey was convicted in federal court today of conspiracy and bribery.  Reuters reports:

A New Jersey pastor and a Florida software engineer were convicted on Friday of scheming to help an illegal bitcoin exchange avoid having banks and regulators look into its activities.

The bitcoin exchange, Coin.mx, was linked to an investigation of a data breach at JPMorgan Chase & Co, revealed in 2014, that exposed more than 83 million accounts.

Pastor Trevon Gross, 47, and programer Yuri Lebedev, 39, were convicted of conspiracy and bribery charges by a jury in Manhattan federal court after a week of deliberations, according to a spokesman for federal prosecutors. Lebedev was also convicted of wire fraud and bank fraud.

….

Prosecutors charged that Lebedev helped arrange bribes to Gross, including $150,000 in donations to his church. In exchange, they say, Gross helped the operator of Coin.mx, Anthony Murgio, take over a small credit union Gross ran from his church.

Murgio used the credit union to evade scrutiny of banks wary of processing payments involving the virtual currency, prosecutors say. Lebedev was accused of working for Coin.mx through a front called “Collectables Club.”

Hope Cathedral’s website still lists Gross as its pastor.

 

Black Collar Crime: Pastor Admits Defrauding 31 People of $1 Million

mark stafford

Mark Stafford, founder and pastor of New Birth Power Plex Ministries in North St. Louis, Missouri, pleaded guilty to federal charges, admitting that he defrauded thirty-one people of $1 million. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:

An investment adviser and former St. Louis pastor pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday and admitted defrauding 31 victims of $1.08 million.

Mark Q. Stafford, 52, of O’Fallon, Mo., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to mail fraud and filing a false tax return.

Stafford admitted that from at least March 2007 to July 2016 he misrepresented investments to clients of the Stafford Financial Firm. Stafford claimed to have opened accounts when he either didn’t deposit the money at all or deposited it in his own account, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Finneran said in court.

Stafford had falsely promised returns of up to 20 percent, as well as bonuses upon investment, Finneran said. Stafford created false financial statements to dupe investors into believing his claims, and even used a false name in correspondence claiming to come from those firms, Finneran said.

He also used money from some clients to pay others, the prosecutor said.

Stafford failed to file tax returns for 2011 and 2013 and understated his 2011 income by $150,000, causing tax losses to the government of almost $100,000, Finneran said.

Stafford was the founder and pastor of New Birth Power Plex Ministries in the Baden area of north St. Louis, prosecutors said.

The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis issued a warning about Stafford and The Stafford Financial Firm last week, citing a Florissant railroad retiree and his daughter who said they’d lost their life savings.

The BBB said that Stafford steered investors to internet-based investment funds that were later targeted by regulators and law enforcement.

Black Collar Crime: Michigan Catholic Priest Charged With Sexually Assaulting Fellow Priest

sylvestre obwaka

Sylvestre Obwaka, pastor of St. Ignatius Church in Rogers City, Michigan has been charged with first-degree and third-degree sexual misconduct. The Gaylord Herald Times reports:

A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting another priest in a church rectory has been ordered to trial in Northern Michigan.

A judge found enough evidence against the Rev. Sylvestre Obwaka, pastor at St. Ignatius Church in Rogers City.

Obwaka is charged with first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct against another priest within the Diocese of Gaylord, who testified Tuesday in 89th District Court in Rogers City. Police say the alleged crimes occurred on Feb. 1 while the man was sleeping.

….

Obwaka, a native of Kenya, has been a priest since 2010. He became pastor at St. Ignatius in July 2013. He is in the Presque Isle County Jail without bond, which was denied during a preliminary hearing Monday.

“I am heartbroken over the events that have unfolded in recent days,” Bishop Steven Raica, leader of the Diocese of Gaylord, which includes St. Ignatius, previously said in a statement. “Our faith calls us to ensure the dignity of each human person is upheld in every circumstance. We must respond with compassion when anyone is harmed. We must also remember than in our system of justice, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

“These are difficult days … I ask for your prayers for all those affected by this situation.”

Up North Live reports:

Father Sylvestre Obwaka has been charged with first degree criminal sexual conduct using force causing personal injury and third degree criminal sexual conduct using force. If convicted, Obwaka faces up to life in prison.
The incident allegedly happened Feb. 1 while a 28-year-old man was staying at Obwaka’s house in Rogers City.

According to the Michigan State Police, the 28-year-old man alleges that Obwaka sexually assaulted him while he was sleeping.

On Tuesday during a preliminary hearing, the alleged victim testified and said he knew Father Obwaka.

He says the sexual assault happened following a night that also involved alcohol, and that he woke up to Father Obwaka inappropriately touching him.

“He used his hand to force my shoulder back down on the bed and he started saying things like, ‘do you love me? Say that you love me,'” the victim said in court.

The man says he tried to roll over.

At some point in the conversation, he says he said ‘no’ to the priest, but it wasn’t clear in court Tuesday what exactly the man was saying no to.

The defense says that Father Obwaka is innocent. Their case involves proving that the two engaged in consensual sex but that the alleged victim later felt guilty about it and reported the situation to police.

“You spent 15 days shedding your guilt and piling it and piling it on my client didn’t you,” Attorney Dan White asked the alleged victim.

“No,” the man replied.

The courtroom was filled with many of Father Obwaka’s supporters.