Tag Archive: Theft

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Greg Bolusan Accused of Robbing Las Vegas Casino Three Times

greg bolusan

Greg Bolusan, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, was arrested for robbing a Vegas casino three times since August.

Channel 8 reports:

A local man was arrested for robbing the M Resort a total of three times since August.  Henderson Police said Gregory Bolusan has stolen more than $63,000 from the casino.

According to officers, Bolusan showed a gun each time he allegedly robbed the casino cage. Police say the incidents happened on Aug. 24, Sept. 10 and Oct. 28.

The first time the cage was hit, Bolusan fled the scene without any money because when he showed the gun and demanded money, the employee took off.  The second time, he got away with $29,000.

The third time was the charm for police because although Bolusan allegedly robbed the casino of $33,000, he was caught by security at the M Resort.  That’s when authorities discovered Boluson’s gun was fake, police said.

Bolusan who was taken into custody by Henderson Police faces burglary, attempted robbery and robbery charges. Police say Bolusan is a pastor at a local church.

ABC-13 reports that Bolusan’s wife wife worked at the casino during the time of the robberies.

Bolusan’s bio states:

Greg Bolusan is the Senior Pastor of Grace Bible Church Las Vegas, a multi-generational church committed to loving God, loving people and making disciples. He has a heart to raise leaders in the next generation of young people. Pastor Greg believes that the city of Las Vegas, also known as the city of sin, needs people who will take time to build authentic relationships winning the lost into a relationship with Jesus.

Prior to becoming a pastor, Greg served as the Operations Director at Grace Bible Church Pearlside. Born and raised in Hawaii, Pastor Greg now resides in Las Vegas, NV with his wife Lea and their daughter ****. Their oldest, son ****, continues to reside on Oahu, HI where he is currently serving as the Youth Pastor for Grace Bible Church Pearlside.

 

Black Collar Crime: Pastor’s Son James Holvick Accused of Stealing $28,000 From Church

theft cartoon

James Holvick, a pastor’s son and treasurer for Riverview Bible Baptist Church and Christian School in Forsyth, Missouri, stands accused of stealing $28,000 from the church.

KY-3 reports:

A Forsyth man is facing a felony stealing charge after allegedly stealing $27,758 from the churched he worked at – and where his father was once pastor.

James Holvick, 42, allegedly wrote himself checks and then cooked the books while working as an accountant for Riverview Bible Baptist Church.

Pastor Jim Brooks, who declined a formal interview, said Holvick has repaid the church for the missing money.

Prosecutors say that someone found a check made out to Holvick in June, and began asking questions, which eventually uncovered the larger fraud.

Court documents say that Holvick claimed he’d only been taking money for a year, but that checks were found dating back further than that.

Holvick’s father was pastor of Riverview Bible Baptist Church for 31 years before retiring in the late 2000’s. Pastor Brooks says his congregation was stunned when they learned of the embezzlement, but they’re healing.

The felony count of stealing could carry a 10-year prison sentence. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.

According to various news reports, Holvick has already repaid the stolen money to the church.

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Riley Brown Accused of Stealing $332,000 From Church

pastor riley brown

Riley Brown, executive pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison, Mississippi, stands accused of stealing $332,000 from the church. At this time, Broadmoor is not pressing charges.

The Clarion-Ledger reports:

A Baptist pastor is accused of stealing more than $300,000 over more than two years.

In an emailed statement, officials with Broadmoor Baptist Church said former executive pastor Riley Brown took $332,000 from the church coffers over a “primarily” 27-month period.

Brown could not be reached for comment.

The “transactions” were discovered after an internal policy review in September, according to the statement.

“These transactions were undertaken by one individual, Riley Brown, circumventing our existing internal policies and procedures,” the statement read.

Brown is no longer employed with the church. Church officials are reporting the matter to the Internal Revenue Service and the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

The church will not press criminal charges but will cooperate with prosecutors, according to the emailed statement. Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest was not immediately available.

“As a body of Christ, we sought to find a proper balance between accountability and grace; and given our exchanges in personnel and significant new safeguards and internal controls we have added, and will continue to add, we are confident we can responsibly steward the resources entrusted to us,” the statement reads. “While we choose not to press criminal charges against this individual, we will fully cooperate with prosecutors if it is independently pursued.”

Update

An October 27, 2017 MS News Now report states:

Broadmoor released a statement that an internal policy review showed that more than $330 thousand dollars was unaccounted for.

The church also said that Brown was no longer with the church and that findings were turned over to the IRS and the Dept of Revenue.

Though he would not take any questions, Brown spoke to us exclusively about the situation.

“I am innocent of any alleged theft. This is a civil matter that was settled two weeks ago.”

….

Email statement from church:

“As a body of Christ, we sought to find a proper balance between accountability and grace; and given our exchanges in personnel and significant new safeguards and internal controls we have added, and will continue to add, we are confident we can responsibly steward the resources entrusted to us. While we choose not to press criminal charges against this individual, we will fully cooperate with prosecutors if it is independently pursued.”

In an October 31, 2017 Clarion-Ledger news report, Brown denies he stole any money from the church:

The former pastor of a central Mississippi Baptist church disputes claims that he stole $332,000 from the church.

The Rev. Riley Brown tells WLBT-TV that he’s innocent of any theft and signed a civil settlement with Broadmoor Baptist Church two weeks ago.

The Southern Baptist congregation in Madison is among the largest in the state.

More: Church says pastor stole over $300,000 from coffers

The church last week said Brown made unauthorized transactions for his own benefit over 27 months. Brown’s lawyer says it’s a dispute over church policy, not a criminal matter.

Broadmoor’s leaders say they’re not pressing charges but have notified income tax officials.

Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest says he was unaware of the claims before the church released a statement but is investigating. The church says it will cooperate if Guest intervenes.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Todd Pope Accused of Stealing From Church

busted

Todd Pope, pastor of Cedar Key First Baptist Church stands accused of stealing more than $76,000 from his church.

Channel 4-Gainsville reports:

The former pastor at Cedar Key First Baptist Church is accused of taking more than $76,000 from his church over several years.

Levy County Sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday charged Todd Anthony Pope with scheme to defraud, forgery and grand theft greater than $20,000 but less than $99,999. He’s being held in the Levy County Jail on $215,000 bond.

Deputies say they received a tip from a concerned citizen about unusual charges to the church’s operational expense accounts.

Investigators immediately identified a number of unusual charges. They say they determined Pope not only used funds for personal gain, but also opened charge accounts, credit card accounts and gas charge accounts. Some of the accounts were created in the church’s name but only Pope had access to them, deputies say.

…..

According to an archived page of the church’s website:

Pastor Todd Pope was born in Lakeland, Florida in 1962 and was born again at age 14. Pastor Todd preached his first sermon at 16. He served Lakeland area churches until moving to our church as pastor in August, 2008. He and his wife Star have five children and five grandchildren.

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Eugene Katcher Accused of Larceny

eugene katcher

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.

Eugune Katcher, pastor of Resurrection Parish in Canton, Michigan, stands accused of stealing money, wine, and a television from his church.

CBS-Detroit reports:

A Canton priest is facing criminal charges related to stolen money, wine and a television from a church.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office charged Father Eugene Katcher, the former pastor of Resurrection Parish in Canton, with larceny on Thursday. He was arraigned at the 35th District Court in Plymouth and faces three counts of larceny in a building.

The Archdiocese of Detroit started an investigation into missing money and other items from the church in the spring and alerted authorities later. Authorities are not releasing how much money he allegedly stole from the church, but it has been determined he stole wine and a television.

The 71-year old priest retired in July, but after he was arrested the archdiocese restricted him from celebrating mass in a church setting. He is also banned from Resurrection Church property.

If convicted on the larceny charges, Katcher faces up to four years in prison.

….

Hometown Life reported on October 27, 2017:

A retired priest charged with stealing from Resurrection Parish in Canton has an opportunity to keep criminal charges off his record, officials say.The Rev. Eugene Katcher, 71, has been placed in a Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office diversion program allowing him to avoid a criminal record if he obeys certain court orders that are not disclosed.

“Father Katcher qualified for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office diversion program because he had no prior record and was charged with a non-violent offense,” prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Maria Miller confirmed Friday. “According to the law, we cannot comment on any further details.”

Katcher could have faced up to four years in prison if he had been convicted in Wayne County Circuit Court on three counts of larceny involving allegations he stole collection plate money, votive candle donations and church property such as a television and wine.

He served as priest at Resurrection Parish from 2014 until July. Archdiocese of Detroit officials have said Katcher already had planned to retire before his arrest in July.

Under the diversion program, certain first-time offenders can keep their records clear if they have a history of law-abiding behavior and if they are charged with lower-level felony offenses.

….

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor’s Wife Susan Pratt Stands Accused of Stealing $1.4 Million

susan pratt

Susan Pratt, whose husband pastors Living Waters Full Gospel Church in Hazard, Kentucky was indicted last week on theft charges.

LEX18 reports:

A pastor’s wife is accused of stealing money from a clinic.

Last week, a grand jury indicted Susan Pratt on theft charges.

The indictment says Pratt stole more than $10,000 from Mercy Clinic in Jackson. The Breathitt County Commonwealth’s Attorney said that the Mercy Clinic of Jackson is alleging Pratt stole $1.4 million.

Her husband is the pastor at Living Waters Full Gospel Church in Hazard.

Pratt is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 11.

….

Black Collar Crime: Lutheran Pastor Says Church Treasurer Carol Padgett Stole From God

carol padgett

Carol Padgett, treasurer for Unity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa was sentenced today to eighty hours of community service for embezzling almost $59,000 from the church. Padgett is also required to pay back the money she stole.

The Des Moines Register reports:

The Rev. Donna Joseph told a Des Moines courtroom on Wednesday that she hopes God will forgive the woman who embezzled almost $59,000 from her church.

“I worry, Carol, about the state of your soul,” Joseph said.

Carol Jean Padgett, 70, of Altoona was sentenced on Wednesday to 80 hours of community service. She earlier pleaded guilty to two felony charges for embezzlement while she was treasurer of Unity Lutheran Church in Des Moines.

Padgett was also ordered to pay back the money she stole and additional fees.

Padgett, who had been treasurer for the church more than 11 years, was arrested in December 2016. She originally faced seven felony charges. In April, she pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors to two of those charges: second-degree theft and credit card fraud.

In a reading a victim impact statement on Wednesday, Joseph described what she knew about Padgett’s crimes and their effect on the church.

“You stole from God,” she said.

The pastor invoked her faith in her statement to the courtroom by explaining several Bible passages that caution against greed and the “evil deeds” that Padgett committed.

“Sadly, money became your false God. … The love of money is the root of all evil,” Joseph said to Padgett.

Joseph described many church members volunteering more or donating extra money to try to keep the church afloat as Padgett was embezzling.

“You took the sacrifices of so many people,” Joseph said.

Padgett had led church leaders to believe they may have to close the church because of financial problems. The church made several budget cuts over the years in response to Padgett’s advice as treasurer, including pulling donations to other organizations and cutting Joseph’s salary and insurance benefits, Joseph said.

As treasurer, Padgett was the only person to handle the church’s finances, Joseph said. But after months of financial woe, church leaders grew suspicious and eventually examined the bank statements themselves.

They found that Padgett had made ATM withdrawals without the church council’s approval, Joseph said. Padgett had also written checks to herself without approval.

When Padgett had started as the church’s treasurer, it was a paid job, but it was later changed to a volunteer position, Joseph said. If this had caused her financial problems, she should have complained or resigned years ago — it’s not an excuse for theft, Joseph said.

The church has confirmed that Padgett stole nearly $59,000, but Joseph testified that it may have been more.

“Only the Lord knows how much you really stole,” she said.

Joseph claimed that Padgett used the stolen money to buy herself a new car, an expensive vacuum, food at restaurants and other items.

Before she was sentenced, Padgett apologized to Joseph and the several other church members who attended the court hearing.

“I do apologize. … My actions were deplorable,” Padgett said. She added that she is “anxious” to pay restitution for the money she stole, and her attorney said she had planned to make a payment of $1,400 on Wednesday.

In addition to 80 hours of community service and an order to pay restitution, Padgett was sentenced to two years of probation with a suspended prison sentence of five years for each of her two charges.

….

Joseph added that she accepts Padgett’s apology.

“I just want her to be right with Christ, turn to the Lord and seek forgiveness,” she said.

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Jonathan Wehrle Charged With Embezzlement

jonathan wehrle

On Monday, Jonathan Wehrle, founding pastor of St. Martha Parish in Okemos, Michigan, was charged with embezzlement.

The Lansing State Journal reports:

An Okemos priest arrested Saturday on the 39th anniversary of his ordination was charged Monday afternoon with embezzlement from his church.

The Rev. Jonathan Wayne Wehrle, 66, was arrested Saturday at his home in Williamston. He was charged Monday with embezzlement of $100,000 or more in 55th District Court in Mason.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Magistrate Mark Blumer set bond at $5,000.

“I’ve known Father for almost 30 years, he’s not a thief and he is not an embezzler,” said Wehrle’s attorney, Lawrence Nolan. “This is a guy who dedicated his life to the Catholic Church.”

The Catholic Diocese of Lansing announced last week that Wehrle, the founding pastor of St. Martha Parish in Okemos, was placed on administrative leave May 9 during an investigation into “possible significant embezzlement” at the church.

A statement from the diocese said the possible embezzlement was uncovered by independent auditors and referred to police.

Detective First Lt. Thomas DeClercq, commander of the Michigan State Police 1st District special investigations section, said his unit has worked closely with the diocese to expedite imaging of computers so as not to interfere with school or administrative functions of the church.

DeClercq said the investigation into embezzlement at the church is ongoing and additional charges are anticipated.

….

Today, The Lansing Journal reports that Jonathan Wehrle used $1.85 million to purchase and renovate his home. Beth LeBlanc writes:

Auditors believe an Okemos priest charged with embezzlement Monday spent about $1.85 million in parish funds on his home.

Check stubs and invoices indicate funds from St. Martha Parish in Okemos were spent on work and materials at Wehrle’s Noble Road home, according to testimony at a court hearing Monday.

The 10-acre Williamston property, according to county assessing records, includes an 11,345-square-foot home with a cash value of $1.48 million. The property also has three barns ranging from 1,792 to 2,304 square feet with a combined cash value of about $148,000.

Taxes on the property in 2016 were $25,106, according to county records.

….

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

pastor r david keith

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.”

Black Collar Crime: Hot Check Writing Preacher Running for Mayor of Marlin, Texas

demetrius beachum

Demetrius Beachum, pastor of Ministry of Hope in Marlin and Temple, Texas is running for mayor of Marlin. According to KWTX, Beachum has a history of writing bad checks and failing to pay traffic fines. KWTX reports:

KWTX investigated allegations against Demetrius Beachum, 39, and learned the mayoral candidate and pastor has been arrested at least six times for writing hot checks and not paying traffic tickets in McLennan and Hill counties, according to multiple law enforcement documents and sources.

According to jail records, Beachum was first arrested for theft by check in McLennan County in 1998, then again in 2007, and a third time in 2013.

The 2013 arrest stems from a 2011 theft over $20 and under $500 involving Central Rental and was dismissed on March 4, 2014.

Beachum was arrested for traffic related incidents in 2000 and 2001 in McLennan County, according to jail records.

Beachum was convicted of theft by check of property over $500 and under $1500 in 2011 in Hill County.

For that offense, Beachum was arrested by DPS and Killeen Police on February 19, 2011 and bonded-out the next day, according to Hill County officials.

According to court records, the incident occurred in 2010, and after being convicted on June 8, 2011, Beachum was ordered to pay $680 in restitution to Eagle Disposal Company and a $100 fine to the court.

Originally from Mexia, Beachum currently runs the Ministry of Hope church in Marlin and Temple.

According to the church’s Facebook page Ministry of Hope is:

A church of two locations, Marlin and Temple TX under the leadership of Supt Demetrius Beachum & First Lady Elect Vickie Beachum.

According to the same Facebook page, the story of Ministry of Hope goes like this:

Ministry of H.O.P.E. started in 2007 in Marlin, TX with only a few members. It is continually growing and 2008 was the year the Temple side opened. Our church will be celebrating ten years of blessed ministry. We only hope to go higher in Christ while adding souls to the kingdom! Our acronym H.O.P.E. stands for healing, overcoming, perfecting, and empowering by faith–We will minister! When you come to the H.O.P.E., we want your experience with God to be a life changing one with positive people in a heart felt environment. Welcome!!

The church’s website is not working at the time of this post.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Wade Davis Charged With Ripping Off Church

pastor wade davis

Wade Davis, pastor of Munger Avenue Baptist Church in Dallas Texas was indicted March 22, 2017 on charges of stealing $300,000 from the church. The Dallas News reports:

A pastor of a Baptist church in Old East Dallas has been indicted on a charge of misappropriating over $300,000 of his church’s money.

A grand jury indicted the Rev. Wade C. Davis on a theft charge on March 22, according to court documents.

The 65-year-old pastor of Munger Avenue Baptist Church turned himself in to Dallas police, WFAA-TV (Channel 8) reported. He posted a $10,000 personal recognizance bond Tuesday.

Davis, who was hired as the church’s senior pastor in 1999, is also accused in a lawsuit of misappropriating church funds beginning in 2012 and continuing through February 2016.

When the church’s board began reviewing its bank accounts, it learned that Davis made numerous withdrawals and charges for personal expenses and without any oversight from the church, according to a lawsuit brought in March 2016.

Davis also attempted to sell property owned by the church without any approval from the board, according to the suit.

The investigation found that numerous purchases had been made on the church’s only debit card, which was in Davis’ possession, the suit stated.

In all, Davis is accused of wrongfully withdrawing about $400,000 from the church’s accounts.

“I mean, just to think that the man of God could possibly have done something this heinous to his members,” Richard Greagor, who said he’s speaking on behalf of the church’s deacons and trustees, told KXAS-TV (NBC5).

Greagor said that some members feel there’s a “cloud of suspicion” around the church.

“Two-thirds of the church decided that they no longer want to be here, so for the past year we’ve been worshipping at Black and Clark Funeral Home in Oak Cliff,” Greagor told the station.

As of today, Davis is still listed as the church’s pastor on its website. Some reports say the good pastor misappropriated upwards of $500,000.

Dallas-Fort Worth CBS reports:

High end shopping sprees, personal car payments and unexplained hotel room rentals.

They are among the allegations made against Dallas Pastor Wade Davis, who’s accused of funneling half a million dollars in church money to his own pocket.

Lifelong church member Erica Williams said the locks were changed on the doors to Munger Avenue Baptist Church when members began wondering why the 123-year-old house of worship was running out of money.

“It was broke, the church was just flat broke,” said member Richard Greagor, who examined finances inside the historically black church last year and says what he found was unimaginable.

“There were liquor purchases an in-town hotel stays and shopping spree at Neiman Marcus and Cadillac repairs it was disheartening,” said Greagor.

Greagor and authorities accuse Pastor Davis of funneling as much as $500,000 to a personal account from a church annuity fund he wasn’t supposed to have access to.

….

“I think he has lost his way I think it one point he may been a man of God,” said Erica Williams.

….

But a year before his arrest, Davis, who was hired in 1998, denied the allegations in a letter to the congregation saying, “I am not guilty of committing any crime. I have not broken any laws,” wrote W.C. Davis, Senior Pastor.

Members said the pastor then moved into the church and changed the locks to drive away his critics who have been meeting for months at a funeral home while Davis was still preaching here last Sunday to a handful of loyal supporters.

But he faces a civil lawsuit from those longtime members who want to drive him from the pulpit so they can return.

“My personal goal is that we get back in this church by Easter this year,” said Williams.

….

If convicted he could face between 5 to 99 years in prison.

Christians suing Christians. I vaguely remember the Apostle Paul condemning such behavior in I Corinthians 6:1-8:

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?  If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

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.

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