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Tag: Fraud

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Mark Millers Stands Accused of Ripping-Off Parishioners

pastor mark miller

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.

Mark Miller, pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, was charged Monday with “two counts of obtaining money by false pretenses.” According to Miller, he has a drug and gambling addiction.

ABC-8 reports:

A former Sand Springs pastor now stands accused of swindling his parishioners out of thousands of dollars.

Mark Miller, 48, was taken into custody on Monday and charged with two counts of obtaining money by false pretenses over $500 or a con game after a year-long investigation.

For many, the news was a total shock.

“When you think about a pastor of a church and he’s stealing money from church members, it’s just shocking and sad,” said convenience store owner, MD Hossain.

Hossain says Miller would come into his store all the time, located right across the street from Broadway Baptist Church. He says Miller always seemed like a nice guy.

“He would buy drinks and gum,” said Hossain. “A very good customer.”

Now, the good customer and beloved former pastor of Broadway Baptist Church is facing allegations of conning parishioners out of thousands of dollars.

“It was $25,000 here, $12,000 there. It was significant,” said Captain Todd Enzbrenner with the Sand Springs Police Department.

According to the affidavit, Miller first started borrowing money in October of 2016. He allegedly told victims he needed the money to pay for his daughter’s college tuition but instead would use it on lavish things.

“He borrowed a large sum of money from a particular person, and then that victim tried to recoup the money several months later,” said Enzbrenner. “They found out that he was also borrowing money from other parishioners and using that money to go on expensive vacations.”

The affidavit also states Miller told detectives he had painkiller and gambling addictions. It says he would gamble the borrowed money to try to double it to pay back what he borrowed.

….

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Mark Whitaker Charged With Forgery and Fraud

pastor mark whitaker

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.

Mark Whitaker, assistant pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church (his father’s church) in Portsmouth, Virginia, stands accused of forgery, passing forged checks, and identity fraud.

Scott Daugherty, a reporter for The Virginian-Pilot, writes:

A Circuit Court judge ordered the public out of the courtroom on Monday afternoon so prosecutors and defense attorneys could argue two motions relating to Councilman Mark Whitaker’s case in private.

Retired Hampton Circuit Judge William Andrews III cleared the room after a defense attorney indicated he planned to discuss grand jury testimony the court previously ordered sealed.

A Virginian-Pilot reporter objected to the move, prompting Andrews to ask a deputy to escort everyone out.

Whitaker, assistant pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, is charged with 11 counts of forgery, seven counts of passing forged checks and two counts of identity fraud.

The charges stem from an investigation Sheriff Bill Watson initiated into Whitaker’s church, its development company and its now-defunct credit union.

Whitaker’s trial was originally set to start Monday, but the judge postponed it until March 21 so the defense could argue various motions.

Whitaker’s attorneys asked Andrews earlier this year to toss the entire indictment. Jon Babineau and Don Scott argued that the special grand jury process was tainted. They took issue with how Portsmouth Circuit Judge William Moore Jr. recused himself from handling Whitaker’s case after overseeing the grand jury and how Watson and one of his investigators had publicly denounced Whitaker.

The attorneys also argued the court should dismiss 15 of the counts because of insufficient evidence. They noted that two of the victims identified in the indictment have come out in support of Whitaker. Malinda Starkley, who worked at the church and credit union, and Caroline Larosiliere, Whitaker’s sister, say that if Whitaker signed their names to any documents, he did so with their permission.

Special prosecutor Andrew Robbins countered that there is no evidence Moore was biased against Whitaker. He also argued that because Capt. Lee Cherry and Investigator Brett Johnson of the Sheriff’s Office were involved in the original investigation, it made sense for the court to order them to assist the grand jury, along with a special agent from the U.S. Treasury Department.

….

Whitaker’s church bio page states:

Dr. Mark Micaiah Whitaker is the third of four children born to Bishop James M. and Otelia McIntyre Whitaker of Portsmouth, VA.  He is married to Dr. Ingrid Whitaker, who serves as a Tenured Associate Professor of Sociology at Old Dominion University.  Dr. Mark and Dr. Ingrid Whitaker made history on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 by becoming the first married coupled elected to Portsmouth City Council and Portsmouth School Board.  They are the proud parents of four children – *****.

Dr. Whitaker was educated in the Portsmouth Public School System.  In 1983, he graduated 4th in his class with honors from the great Manor High School and was named to the First Team All-State Boys Basketball Team.  Dr. Whitaker furthered his education at Virginia Tech where he was the recipient of a full-athletic scholarship in basketball, served as President of the Black Student Alliance, was listed as Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, and graduated from Virginia Tech in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Science.  In 1989, Dr. Whitaker received a Masters of Business Administration from The Pennsylvania State University. Moreover, in 1993, Dr. Whitaker received the Doctor of Jurisprudence (Law Degree) from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law where he served as President of the Black Law Students Association in 1992 and 1993 and served on the College of Law Honor Council.  Dr. Whitaker has done further studying in the R.B. Pamplin College of Business Doctoral Program at Virginia Tech and the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology of Virginia Union in the Masters of Divinity program.

Dr. Whitaker presently serves as a Tenured Associate Professor of Management at the historic Hampton University.   In 1992, Dr. Whitaker was licensed as a minister and ordained in June of 1995.  Moreover, Dr. Whitaker serves as the Assistant Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Portsmouth, VA where his father, Bishop James M. Whitaker has served as the Pastor since June of 1964 and his mother, Otelia McIntyre Whitaker, is the Minister of Music.  Under the direction of his father, Dr. Whitaker initiated an endowment fund ministry at the church, computerized the operations of the church and church credit union, received over $1 million from the Virginia Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant for after-school tutoring and summer enrichment programs for elementary and middle school students in the Cavalier Manor neighborhood, expanded the catering business of the church, coordinated the purchase of the former Bona Villa 15 acre apartment complex, created the New Bethel Development, LLC , reorganized the Diaconate Ministry, and developed the Wednesday night Christian Development Institute.

In May 2002, Dr. Whitaker was elected to the Portsmouth School Board as the youngest person ever elected and served until December 2014.  As a School Board Member, Dr. Whitaker served as chair of the Minority Contracting Committee and the Corporate Sponsorship Committee.  Moreover Dr. Whitaker was very instrumental in the School Board implementing a Minority and Women Business Enterprises Program, Middle School Athletics Program, Pay Equity Study, and in advocating for social justice and respect for all.

Dr. Whitaker is one who believes that, through Christ, we can do all things.

In April 2017, Daugherty reported:

Councilman Mark Whitaker was indicted Thursday on 20 felony charges of identity fraud, forgery and using forged checks.

A special grand jury impaneled to hear evidence about Whitaker’s church, New Bethel Baptist Church, and its development company and its now-defunct credit union returned the indictments.

Eleven counts alleged forgery, seven “uttering a forged check” and two identity fraud. Most of the charges stem from August 2013, but two are from October 2014.

Three people were identified as victims in the paperwork – Kevin Blount, Caroline Larosiliere and Malinda Starkley. New Bethel’s website lists a Malinda Starkley as a deacon.

….

Whitaker previously blasted the grand jury investigation as politically motivated, noting that Sheriff Bill Watson was involved in the initial inquiry. The two are longtime political foes, with each accusing the other of racism and grandstanding over the years.

A source familiar with the case told The Pilot that Watson had his employees start the investigation, and then they looped in the U.S. Treasury Department.

….

According to court documents, investigators with the Sheriff’s Office, Treasury and the federal agency that regulates credit unions first presented evidence to Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales. But she asked the court in January to assign a special prosecutor, citing a conflict of interest “and to avoid the appearance of impropriety.”

Chief Circuit Judge William Moore Jr. impaneled the nine-member grand jury Tuesday to look into the church, the financial relationships between its entities and transactions between those entities and their members, among other things.

….

After Robbins presented the charges to the jurors, eight of whom appeared to be black and one white, it took about an hour to return with signed indictments.

Earlier Thursday, an attorney representing the church said she did not believe any crimes had occurred.

“If they indict anyone in this matter, it would be an absolute tragedy,” said Verbena Askew, who accompanied a half-dozen church employees Tuesday and Wednesday while they testified to the grand jury.

Over the past month, Askew has repeatedly argued the jury was not legally able to return an indictment. She continued questioning that ability Thursday.

….

James and Mark Whitaker run the church at 4212 Greenwood Drive and are involved in its development company. Whitaker headed the church’s credit union before it was liquidated in August 2015 because the National Credit Union Administration determined it would never be able to “restore viable operations.”

The church started the development company about 11 years ago to buy a dilapidated rental complex next door, but financing dried up, and New Bethel Development defaulted on a $2.9 million loan, with the church as collateral.

A third party took control and arranged to sell it so the bank could get its money back. The buyer, Herman & Kittle, wants to build 280 apartments there. But the project didn’t get City Council approval after pressure from residents in the Cavalier Manor neighborhood, and Herman & Kittle is suing.

….

 

Black Collar Crime: Thieving Evangelical Pastor Terry Wells Pays Restitution to Avoid Prison

pastor terry wells

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.

Terry Wells, pastor of My Brother’s Keeper Outreach Ministries in Trenton, New Jersey, avoided prison Friday by paying restitution to a family he bilked out of thousands of dollars.

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman, a reporter for The Trentonian, writes:

The Rev. Terry Wells, 42, pastor of My Brother’s Keeper Outreach Ministries, duped a family into financial loss over two years ago but appeared in Mercer County Superior Court on Friday to try to make things right.

Dressed up in a suit and tie, Wells formally presented the victimized family with $5,300 via cashier’s check on Friday. He still owes $6,700, and the state has the right to terminate his plea agreement and prosecute him on numerous counts of credit card theft, forgery and theft by deception if he fails to pay the balance by Jan. 5, 2018.

Wells gained the trust of the local family through his ministry and then exploited them as the unwitting victims of his deception. The whole shebang is presented as a misdemeanor under his plea agreement, but the pastor was originally accused of achieving self-enrichment through a staggering set of devilish deeds.

A grand jury in April 2016 handed up a 23-count indictment charging Wells with a litany of offenses on allegations he bilked thousands of dollars from the victimized family and spent their cash and charged their credit cards throughout Mercer County.

Wells, a Trenton resident, fell from grace in 2015 after police in Ewing, Lawrence and Hamilton charged him with theft-related crimes. Court records show he was committed to jail on Oct. 13, 2015, but got released the next day on bail, which was set at 10 percent of $80,000 cash bail. All of those charges were merged into one case that became the 23-count indictment.

Seeking to resolve the matter without going to trial, Wells accepted a plea agreement that calls for prosecutors to dismiss the 23-count indictment in exchange for him pleading guilty to one count of a downgraded theft charge and agreeing to pay $12,000 in restitution to the victimized family.

….

In addition to his 2015 theft by deception case that spawned the 23-count indictment, court records show Wells has also been charged with third-degree insurance fraud for an incident that occurred in Trenton on Jan. 30.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Luther Feltus-Curry Sentenced to 23-Year Prison Term for Defrauding Church Members

jail

Luther Feltus-Curry, pastor of Revival Center Ministries in Vallejo, California was sentenced to prison yesterday after being found guilty of defrauding several church members.

The Daily Republic reports:

A former church pastor convicted of 29 felonies relating to fleecing several members of his flock of more than $1 million was sentenced Thursday to 23 years and eight months in prison.

Luther Feltus-Curry, 69, former pastor with the Revival Center Ministries in Vallejo, was found guilty in January of multiple charges of grand theft and scheming to defraud others by using false information to pedal promissory notes in their investment companies.

A partner in the scheme, Alma L. Perez, 56, was found guilty of 11 felonies. She was sentenced in May to 10 years in prison.

….

Earlier this year, the Daily Republic reported:

A former Vallejo church pastor was found guilty Monday of 29 felonies related to fleecing several members of his flock of more than $1 million between 2008 and 2010.

Luther Feltus-Curry, 68, former pastor with the Revival Center Ministries, taught financial management and debt relief classes to his fellow church members starting in 2004, according to lawyers for Feltus-Curry and co-defendant Alma L. Perez.

Perez, 56, was found guilty of 11 felonies. Both defendants faced multiple charges of grand theft and scheming to defraud others by using false information to pedal promissory notes in their investment companies.

Judge John B. Ellis ordered Feltus-Curry and Perez to be locked up as they await sentencing, which is set for March 8. They had been out of custody since charges were filed against them in 2014.

Feltus-Curry in 2008 started promising annual returns of between 5 and 18 percent for church members who invested in the companies set up and operated by Perez. Some church members invested their entire life savings, in one case more than $300,000. Altogether, at least nine church members entrusted Feltus-Curry with more than $1 million, according to prosecutors in the complex jury trial that spanned nearly a month.

Lawyers for Feltus-Curry and Perez built their defense case largely around claims that their clients were also victims of fraud. They claimed Feltus-Curry and Perez were duped because they took the money handed over to them by churchgoers and invested it with other companies that promised even high rates of return in just months and that turned out to be just as bogus.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Lonny Remmers Begins Serving One Year Prison Sentence for Fraud

pastor lonny remmers

Lonny Remmers, pastor of Heart of Worship Community Church in Corona, California, reported to prison today to begin serving a year-and-a-day sentence for defrauding an Ohio developer.

Brian Rokos, a reporter for The Press Enterprise, reports:

His last-minute bid to remain free for a few more weeks denied, Corona pastor Lonny Remmers on Tuesday, Aug. 22, reported to prison in Lompoc to begin serving his year-and-a-day sentence for his role in swindling $2 million from an Ohio developer.

Remmers in August 2016 pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was ordered to pay $95,000 restitution. Two others made pleas as well.

The day before he was due to turn himself in to the federal prison, Remmers, 59, filed a motion to delay that, writing that he had to care for his wife, Lisa, who Remmers said was bedridden with shingles, severe bronchitis and vertigo.

“It would be a great help to his wife, and would put defendant Remmers at ease if he could stay at home and take care of her for the next two to three weeks before he has to report to Lompoc,” Remmers wrote in the federal filing.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey J. Helmick denied the request without comment.

Remmers, Robert Milam and Mark O. Wittenmyer solicited $2 million from an Ohio developer as seed money for an investment fund but instead used the money for their own purposes. They had promised Larry Dillin a substantial return on his investment and said the plan was backed by assets in a different, multi-million fund that actually had no assets.

Remmers is head of the Heart of Worship Community Church, which has about two dozen members, many of them recovering drug addicts or others who sought refuge with Remmers from their troubled lives.

….

Readers may remember Remmers from a 2012 story detailing his use of pliers to pinch the nipple of a teenage boy as punishment for sexually assaulting his sister. Rokos reported:

In his latest case, Remmers, pastor of a Corona church with 15-20 members, is accused of assaulting a 13-year-old boy whose mother brought him to Remmers to be straightened out.

Remmers was charged in April with assault with a deadly weapon and inflicting corporal injury on a child.

Authorities say that as head of the Heart of Worship Community Church, he directed two men living at one of the church’s group homes — Darryll D. Jeter Jr. and Nicholas J. Craig — to scare the boy.

Jeter, 28, and Craig, 22, both are charged with assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, making criminal threats, inflicting corporal injury on a child and assault. Authorities say that on March 18, the two men took the boy to Barstow, forced him to dig a grave, hit him with a shovel and threw dirt on him. Jeter and Craig returned the boy to Remmers, who then assaulted the boy’s nipples with pliers, authorities say.

….

Remmers was sentenced to two-years in prison for his crime. And, as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, numerous Christians thought Remmers should have received a pat on the back, not prison, for “helping” the boy:

For one, people who had avoided speaking out during the case that began in March 2012 decided to speak publicly Friday, and they didn’t leave anything out as they tried to persuade Fields to give Remmers probation instead of prison.

The victim in the case and his mother – she moved in with Remmers after his arrest on charges that originally included kidnapping – spoke on the pastor’s behalf Friday.

The boy, now 16, said Remmers “is the best father I have ever known. He means the world to me. He doesn’t deserve any of this. He’s done more to help me in my life than anyone else I’ve ever known. I love this man.”

The boy’s mother, who is not being identified because it could identify the boy, spoke next. She said Remmers pleaded guilty so the boy wouldn’t have to testify about molesting his younger sister. But then she told the court what her son did to her daughter.

She said the incident should have been taken care of in “the family” and not involved police. Remmers taught her son that when it comes to rape, “No means no.”

She claimed that the plea deal was made because of a lack of evidence. Fields interrupted her, reminding her that Remmers voluntarily pleaded guilty.

“Respectfully, you seem to be ignoring that,” Fields said.

Remmers said he pleaded guilty to inflicting corporal injury on a child and assault with a deadly non-firearm weapon so the boy would not have to testify. But Remmers then made public for the first time a contention that the boy had been molested as a 3-year-old, being “passed around like a party favor.”

Remmers said the boy does not fear him.

“The day that this supposed incident went down, the young man came up to me and said ‘Grandpa, thank you for saving my life.’ Not ‘Why did you do this to me?’”

Several church members told Fields that Remmers’ counsel kept their marriages intact. Others said Remmers saved their lives, giving them hope and a place to live and be loved after they had been molested by various relatives or acquaintances. Others said that Remmers, who was ordained in the late 1990s – after serving a contempt of court sentence – is an outstanding pastor.

“I have never been closer to Jesus than I am now because of Pastor Lonny,” said Robert Guzeman, who said he has known Remmers 30 years. “I love you, Pastor.”

Church member Ryan Parks said he was a partier and drinker until he met Remmers, and that the pastor helped him with his marriage. “When I was introduced to the Lord by this man, everything changed for me.”

But two parents of church members said Remmers broke families apart and forbade parents from contacting their loved ones. Jim Forbes said he hadn’t seen his grandchildren for years until he walked past them in the court room.

….

 

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

busted

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.

….

Black Collar Crime: Pastor Walter Diggles Set to Stand Trial on Fraud Charges

walter diggles

Walter Diggles, pastor of Lighthouse Church of God in Christ in Jasper, Texas, was arrested and charged with fraud, as were his wife and daughter.

In December 2015, the Beaumont Enterprise reported:

The executive director of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments schemed with his wife and daughter to illegally divert more than $1.3 million in federal grant money intended for hurricane assistance, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Walter Diggles, Rosie Diggles and Anita Diggles were jointly charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Walter Diggles, 62, was charged individually with eleven counts of wire fraud, two counts of theft from a program that receives federal funding, and three counts of money laundering.

Rosie Diggles, 61, his wife, also was charged individually with 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

Anita Diggles, 39, faces only the conspiracy charge.

The government also seeks the forfeiture of $1.3 million, which approximates the amount of the Diggles’ theft.according to the federal indictment.

All three pleaded not guilty Monday in a Beaumont federal courtroom.

Attorneys for the Diggles family called the charges “sensational, but unsubstantiated.”

Walter Diggles has been DETCOG director since 1990 and pastor of the Lighthouse Church in Jasper County since 1980, the indictment stated.

He also ran the Deep East Texas Foundation, a non-profit created in 2005, according to the indictment.

DETCOG, though not a government agency, operates on behalf of an association of city and county governments. It received federal, state and local grant funds to finance and administer programs throughout a 12-county region.

According to the indictment, the Deep East Texas Foundation received about $4.4 million in Social Service Block Grant funding from 2007 to 2012.

The foundation continued to conduct operations even though the Texas Secretary of State forfeited its charter around 2007, according to the indictment.

Walter Diggles defrauded the federal government by inflating the amount his foundation needed for social service programs and taking the difference for personal use, the indictment alleges.

Walter Diggles had single-signature authority over the foundation’s bank account at First National Bank in Jasper, where he also received monthly payments for his service on the bank’s board, according to the indictment.

In a brief statement on the courthouse steps before the hearing, the Diggles’ attorneys characterized the indictment resulting from the government’s 2014 raid of DETCOG headquarters in Jasper and the two-year investigation as a “fundamental misunderstanding of how federal and state block grants work.”

Ryan Gertz, lead attorney for Walter Diggles, said the DETCOG block grants are given on a reimbursement basis rather than by contract and that “the entire indictment reflects a misunderstanding of this simple fact.”

….

According to a July 19, 2017 article in the Beaumont Enterprise, jury selection has begun, with opening arguments expected later today.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Todd Coontz Accused of Tax Fraud

todd coontz

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.

Fake Dr. Todd Coontz, pastor of Dominion Family Worship Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (church’s website is a parked domain) and CEO of Rockwealth Ministries stands accused of “failing to pay taxes and filing false tax returns, as well as hiding assets that were paid for by donations.”

WSOC-9 reports:

A televangelist and so-called “prosperity preacher” with ties to Charlotte has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Pastor Todd Coontz is accused of failing to pay taxes and filing false tax returns, as well as hiding assets that were paid for by donations. The U.S. attorney said, “This is a classic example of, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’”

….

As a cable TV evangelist, Coontz promised financial miracles for people who sent money to his ministry.

“You need to plant the $273 recovery seed. I’m only going to give you two to three minutes to respond,” Coontz once told his viewers.

Coontz posted videos on Twitter as recently as Wednesday, promising financial blessings to the faithful.

“Suddenly miracles are happening. I want to work with your faith for quick things, swift things,” Coontz said in the video.

In February 2013, a Channel 9 investigation revealed some of Coontz’s own “blessings,” which included a $1.38 million condo at a building on the corner of Providence and Sharon Amity roads. In the garage of that building was his Ferrari and his Maserati.

A federal criminal indictment on Thursday pointed to those exact same assests in Channel 9’s investigation.

The condo was purchased by Coontz’s Rockwealth Ministries as “parsonage” for him, according to the indictment. The court documents said the cars were also titled in the name of the ministry.

The U.S. Secret Service started looking into Coontz and Rockwealth Ministries as a result of the Channel 9 investigation.

The indictment revealed delinquent tax returns from as far back as 2000. From 2010-2013, Coontz owed more than $326,000 in taxes.

Investigators said he also hid his income from the Internal Revenue Service by cashing checks he received from churches and ministries for travel and speaking engagements and then claiming that same travel as business expenses.

The indictment also revealed he used business funds to pay for personal expenses, such as more than $227,000 for clothes, $140,000 at restaurants and more than 400 charges at movie theaters.

Coontz’s defense attorney, Mark Foster, said the indictment makes allegations but isn’t proof.

“He’s otherwise is a good man,” Foster said. “He’s tried to do the right thing all his life and he has no criminal record. We’re going to fight this out.”

….

Statement from Coontz’s attorney:

“William Todd Coontz has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Charlotte on several criminal tax charges.  Coontz unequivocally asserts his innocence of these charges.

A grand jury is tasked only with determining whether there is probable cause to believe that a defendant has committed a federal crime. The government presents its evidence to the grand jury in secret and the defense cannot be present. Thus, the grand jury’s indictment of Coontz is not a determination of guilt — it is merely a preliminary finding that is necessary before the federal government can prosecute someone.

The government has chosen to make a statement to the press about Mr. Coontz’s indictment. It must be remembered that Todd Coontz is presumed innocent. Todd Coontz has retained veteran federal criminal defense attorney Mark Foster to represent him in this case and will vigorously defend himself against these charges. Todd Coontz has always endeavored to follow the law and to be a good citizen, father and minister.  He trusted others to manage his finances and taxes for him and was shocked to find out he was under criminal investigation by the IRS.

We expect that after hearing all the evidence, a jury will fully vindicate Mr. Coontz by finding him not guilty of all charges.

Mark Foster, Attorney at Law”

todd coontz fundraising
Fundraising pop-up from Rockwealth Ministries website

The Rockwealth Ministries BIO (bullshit) page for Coontz states:

Pastor, Evangelist, Television Host, Author,Humanitarian, Philanthropist, Businessman are some words others use to describe Dr. Todd Coontz.

Dr. Todd Coontz’s life of service to God began at age 10 when he dedicated his life to the Lord at the altar in a small country church.  “I’ll go where You want me to go, God … I’ll say what You tell me to say… I’ll do whatever You want! I am yours!” The following night he preached his first sermon on Moses and the Ten Commandments, having just watched the classic movie by the same title. The prayer he prayed in that little chapel changed the course of his life and launched him into more than four decades of ministry and preaching the gospel around the world!

As the Founder/Pastor of Dominion Family Worship Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he proclaims the message of the gospel and The Great Commission to the body of Christ. He loves God’s people and is committed to building a church where everyone is welcome. His ministry extends beyond the local church through his daily television broadcast, FAITH NOW, which reaches 90 million homes in the US and airs globally in over 200 countries. Millions have been touched, inspired, educated, and motivated to become everything God desires for them through his multi-faceted ministry.

A published author with more than 10 books and several best-selling titles, Dr. Coontz ministers effectively on the topics of faith, finances, and building people. As a noted faith teacher and captivating communicator, Dr. Coontz is passionate about the principles of Biblical Economics outlined in the Covenant found in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. His objective is to teach God’s people how to qualify, receive and manage wealth based upon Scriptural principles, including those from Deuteronomy 8:18.

In addition to his many endeavors, he finds time to travel internationally with some of the most renown “Generals of Faith” and can be seen on the largest television networks, including TBN, Daystar, INSP, Word Network, and more. He is also the Founder of RockWealth International Ministries, the Owner of Legacy Media, Inc., a media and publishing company, and holds an Honorary Doctor of Ministry Degree from Kingsway University.

Dr. Todd Coontz is a minister of the gospel with a heart for God’s people … a humanitarian committed to feeding underprivileged children … and a man of God who lives what he preaches!

An April 3, 2018 WBTV-3 story reports:

The trial is underway for a former Charlotte minister who was indicted for reportedly failing to pay his taxes.

According to prosecutors,Todd Coontz skirted the IRS for years. Federal prosecutors say Coontz allegedly failed to pay taxes and filed false tax returns.

He was the minister of Rock Wealth International Ministries from 2010 to 2014, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Coontz’s website states he is a pastor, evangelist, television host, author, humanitarian, philanthropist and a businessman.

From 2000 to 2014, Coontz consistently failed to make timely payments on his taxes and sometimes owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, investigators said. According to the Observer, Coontez under-reported his income on his tax returns “by not including as income payments made by his corporations and ministry for his personal expenses.”

Coontz also would allegedly get people to make checks out to him personally for speaking engagements, the Observer reported.

The Observer reported that Coontz “enjoyed a life of luxury” and claimed his $1.5 million condo and his luxury vehicles as business expenses. In addition, he allegedly also claimed a boat, clothing purchases, entertainment purchases and $140,000 in meals as business expenses, the Observer reported.

When announcing the charges in 2017, U.S. Attorney Jill Rose said this case was “a classic example of ‘Do as I say, not as I do.'”

“As a minister, Coontz preached about receiving and managing wealth, yet he failed to keep his own finances in order. Coontz will now receive a first-hand lesson in ‘rendering unto Caesar’ that which is due,” Rose said.

The Observer reported that Coontz wrote several books about finances.

Coontz’s lawyer, Mark Foster, said he “always endeavored to follow the law and to be a good citizen, father, and minister. He trusted others to manage his finances and taxes for him and was shocked to find out he was under criminal investigation by the IRS,” the Observer reported.

“We expect that after hearing all the evidence, a jury will fully vindicate Mr. Coontz by finding him not guilty of all charges,” Foster told the Observer in 2017.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Franklin Fountain Accused of Fraud

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Franklin Fountain, apostle/bishop/pastor of Resurrection Ministries International in Bridgeport, Connecticut stands accused of fraudulently selling his church’s building. The new owner? Fountain, who bought the building for one dollar.

CT Post reports:

The pastor of the Fountain of Youth Cathedral won the hearts of his congregation — then stole their church, police said.

Bishop Franklin L. Fountain may eventually have to answer to a higher authority but in the meantime he will face a Superior Court judge.

Fountain is charged with first-degree larceny and second-degree forgery after police said he forged deed documents and sold the Madison Avenue church to himself for $1.

City property records show Fountain is now the owner of the church and property valued at $1.5 million.

“Isn’t this all ridiculous,” Fountain, 55, said Wednesday after being released on a promise to appear in court. “I am the pastor and I deserve respect and I expect that this will all be worked out.”

He could face more than 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges. His lawyer, Erroll Skyers, said he is anxiously waiting to see the police report before commenting.

Police Detective Francis Podpolucha said they had received a complaint from the church’s Board of Directors, Fountain’s younger brother James Fountain and his uncle Donald Fountain that without authorization from the board, Bishop Fountain had altered the deed documents and sold the church at 324 Madison Ave. to himself.

Franklin L. Fountain took over as pastor of the church, which was founded in 1960, from his father, Franklin D. Fountain who died in 2005.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Robert Keith Charged with $700,000 Theft

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Robert (R. David) Keith, pastor of New Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey was arrested and charged  with “stealing approximately $700,000 at his side job at a local repair company.” New Brunswick Today reports:

Authorities announced on March 28 that they had charged a member of the clergy with stealing approximately $700,000 at his side job at a local repair company.

Robert Keith, a 46-year-old West Orange resident, was charged with credit card theft, money laundering, forgery, theft by unlawful taking, and unlawful use of a credit card, according to the official statement.

It all stemmed from his employment at RupCoe, the South Plainfield company where he was apparently a bookkeeper despite not being a licensed certified public accountant.

“During the investigation it was determined that the defendant, while working as the bookkeeper for a South Plainfield plumbing, heating and air conditioning company, stole the money in various amounts between February 1, 2015 and February 7, 2017.”

But Keith is also apparently a pastor in Essex County, going by the name R. David Keith and serving as the public face of a Newark church.  Prosecutors allege he played up his status as a “religious leader” to “add legitimacy” to his bookkeeping services.

The official statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) did not mention the company that Keith allegedly victimized, nor did it indicate which church he preached at.

But it wasn’t hard to figure out he was the preacher at Newark’s New Ebeneezer Baptist Church, where a banner with his face is hanging from the building, according to a NBC television report.

Some people told reporters that Keith had claimed to own a car dealership, and that they never knew about his bookkeeping job.

“The investigation began after company officials discovered the thefts and contacted police,” read the MCPO release.

“It has been determined during the course of the investigation that he sought to add legitimacy to his bookkeeping services by describing himself as a religious leader.”

Bruce Gerencser