Tag Archive: Heart of Worship Community Church Corona

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.

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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.

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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.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Lonny Remmers Sentenced to One Year in Federal Prison

pastor lonny remmers

On October 7, 2014, Lonny Remmers, pastor of Heart of Worship Community Church in Corona, California was sentenced to two years in state prison for “assaulting the 13-year-old son of a church member.” The Press Enterprise reported:

Corona pastor Lonny Remmers, head of the Heart of Worship Community Church, faced an audience of one Friday as he fought to stay out of prison for assaulting the 13-year-old son of a church member.

Remmers, 56, told Superior Court Judge Richard T. Fields how he had mended marriages in his approximately 20-member church and broken children free from years of abuse.

In explaining why he grabbed a pair of pliers and pinched the boy’s nipple during a Bible study – a punishment for the boy raping his sister – Remmers conceded that “I wish I had thought different in the moment to pick a different route.”

Fields was only partly impressed, however, and sentenced Remmers to two years in state prison, the maximum allowed under a plea deal Remmers had agreed to. Fields rejected a request from defense attorney Peter Scalisi to allow Remmers to turn himself in at a later date, and the gray-haired pastor was bound in chains on the spot.

“I recognize the gentleman has done great things,” Fields told Remmers’ supporters and detractors in the courtroom.

But Fields noted other aspects of the punishment that occurred in March 2012 after the boy’s mother brought him to Remmers to be disciplined. Co-defendants Darryll D. Jeter Jr. and Nicholas Craig, who previously had pleaded guilty to inflicting corporal injury on a minor, had taken the boy known in court records as John Doe to the desert near Barstow, forced him to dig a mock grave, threw dirt on him and told the boy that his answers to questions would determine whether he lived or died. The boy was then taken to a group home, where he was stripped, zip tied to a chair and Maced, according to court records. The boy was then taken to the Bible study.

“The ultimate consequence of that was unimaginable to me,” Fields said. “That is not an acceptable form of punishment to me, plain and simple. That’s more than a minor misjudgment that I simply cannot ignore.”

Scalisi had urged Fields to grant probation. He said Remmers was remorseful and has helped many people in his ministry.

Friday’s hearing in Riverside provided a stunning conclusion to a case that Fields described as “very unique in many, many ways.”

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.

Yesterday, Remmers appeared in U.S. District Court and was sentenced to one year in prison for wire fraud. The Press Enterprise reports:

Corona Pastor Lonny Remmers was sentenced to a year and a day in federal custody Tuesday, April 4, in connection with an Ohio wire-fraud case.

In Toledo, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey L. Helmick also sentenced Remmers, 59, to three years’ supervised probation and ordered him to pay $95,000 restitution. Remmers was sentenced on a felony charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; two felony counts of wire fraud were dismissed. Two other counts of wire fraud were dismissed when Remmers pleaded guilty in August.

Twenty-four Remmers supporters submitted letters to the court, vouching for his character.

Remmers, Robert Milam and Mark O. Wittenmyer were accused of soliciting $2 million from an Ohio developer as seed money for an investment fund but instead using the money for their own purposes. Milam was sentenced to 14 months in prison in January. Wittenmyer is scheduled to be sentenced April 18.

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.

Astoundingly, Remmers’ church continues to stand behind their man.

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