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Topic: Pastors and churches behaving badly

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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

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HomeLatest NewsFlint pastor charged with defrauding retirees, members
Flint pastor charged with defrauding retirees, members
March 30, 2017Flint Beat
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Washington D.C. — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges and an emergency asset freeze obtained against Flint pastor Larry Holley of Abundant Life Ministries for allegedly exploiting church members, retirees, and laid-off auto workers who were misled to believe they were investing in a successful real estate business.
The SEC alleges that Holley cloaked his solicitations in faith-based rhetoric, replete with references to scripture and biblical figures. Holley allegedly told prospective investors that as a person who “prayed for your children,” he was more trustworthy than a ”banker” with their money. According to the SEC’s complaint, Holley held financial presentations masked as ”Blessed Life Conferences” at churches nationwide during which he asked congregants to fill out cards detailing their financial holdings, and he promised to pray over the cards and invited attendees to have one-on-one consultations with his team. He allegedly called his investors ”millionaires in the making.”

According to the SEC’s complaint, which also charges Holley’s company Treasure Enterprise LLC and his business associate Patricia Enright Gray, approximately $6.7 million was raised from more than 80 investors who were guaranteed high returns and told they were investing in a profitable real estate company with hundreds of residential and commercial properties.

According to the complaint, Gray advertised on a religious radio station based in Flint and singled out recently laid-off auto workers with severance packages to consult her for a ”financial increase.” Gray allegedly promised to roll over investors’ retirement funds into tax-advantaged Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and invest them in Treasure Enterprise. The SEC alleges that no investor funds were deposited into IRAs, and Treasure Enterprise struggled to generate enough revenue from its real estate investments to support the business and make payments owed to investors. Treasure Enterprise owes investors an estimated $1.9 million in past due payments, according to the SEC’s complaint.

”As alleged in our complaint, Holley and Gray targeted the retirement savings of churchgoers, building a bond of trust purportedly based on faith but actually based on false promises,” said David Glockner, Director of the SEC’s Chicago Regional Office.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Holley, Gray, and Treasure Enterprise were not registered to sell investments. The SEC encourages investors to check the background of anyone offering to sell them investments by doing a quick search on the SEC’s investor.gov website.

The SEC has obtained a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan that freezes the assets of Holley, Gray, and Treasure Enterprise. The court’s order also appoints a receiver and imposes other emergency relief.

The SEC’s complaint alleges violations of Sections 5(a), 5(c), and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. The complaint seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus interest, penalties, and permanent injunctions.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, is being conducted by Ana P. Doncic, Delia L. Helpingstine, and Sruthi Koneru of the Chicago office. The case is being supervised by Steven L. Klawans, and the litigation is being led by Jonathan S. Polish.
Post Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:16 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Authorities investigating use of funds at Flint church
Posted: Mar 31, 2017 4:45 PM CDT
Updated: Mar 31, 2017 4:45 PM CDT
Posted By Brianna Owczarzak, Digital producerCONNECT

By Samaia Hernandez

Authorities investigating use of funds at Flint church


(Source: WNEM)
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -
A trusted source in the community is under the microscope of investigators for some not-so-trustworthy practices.

The historic Antioch Baptist Church on Flint's north side is being run by a group of parishioners, but it's those people - and a local government leader - who are accused of misusing church funds.

"I've been there ever since I was, let's say 5. Grew up here. And to see all the individuals come and those that are not, but see there's a love for this church," said Herman Miller, chairman of the Deacon Board.

Once among Flint's mightiest churches tasked with bringing souls to Christ, the historic Antioch Baptist Church is overshadowed in conflict over its finances.

"They're fed up with not knowing where the money is," Miller said.

Miller said after the church's pastor grew ill, other members stepped in to help run the church. Now the board said they are so worried about how church funds are being spent they have filed a complaint with police, pointing fingers at several members including a high ranking city official.

"We shouldn't have to worry about money that comes in. We should have some transparency with it. We should know when our bills are being paid," Miller said.

Michigan State Police confirmed they are investigating a complaint at the church. Police said they will have to obtain additional records to determine if there is any merit to the allegations.

Deacon Robert Williams said going to authorities was the board's last resort.

"The people that are in the office refuse to sit down and talk with us," Williams said.

Williams said the church wants answers so they can get back to focusing on worship.

"The monies that were going there were not going to the place where we thought it was going. So, we feel as the Deacon Board, we had to step up to the bat and try to do something about it because the congregation has requested us to take action," Williams said.

Police said these types of financial complaints take time to investigate and they need to obtain a subpoena or warrant first.
Post Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:19 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

CIVIC INVOLVEMENT: Deacon and assistant treasurer at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, member of the Flint Branch of the NAACP, member and finance director of the concession area for the National Baptist Convention USA Inc.
Post Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:45 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

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State police investigating alleged financial impropriety at Flint church


Print Email Dominic Adams | dadams5@mlive.com By Dominic Adams | dadams5@mlive.com

on April 03, 2017 at 2:00 PM, updated April 03, 2017 at 2:04 PM
FLINT, MI - The Michigan State Police say they are investigating allegations of financial improprieties at a Flint church.

A fraud complaint regarding the finances at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 1083 E. Stewart Ave., was initially filed with Flint police.

The case has since been referred to the Michigan State Police for investigation, according to MSP Lt. David Kaiser.



A woman who answered the phone at Antioch and did not give her name said the church had no comment on the investigation. She referred MLive-The Flint Journal to the church's attorney, but would not provide the name of the attorney.

Authorities have not released specifics on the investigation or any potential amount of money involved.

"Somebody made an allegation," Kaiser said. "I don't know if there's any merit to it."

Kaiser said the investigation could take weeks.

"The investigation says for possible financial fraud -- that could be for misappropriated or misspent funds," he said.

Flint police forwarded the complaint to the Michigan State Police on Tuesday, March 28, because of Flint City Council President Kerry Nelson's affiliation with the church, according to Kaiser.

MLive-The Flint Journal could not reach Nelson for comment, who MLive-The Journal records show served as deacon and assistant treasurer at the church.

The investigation comes on the heels of other recent investigations at area churches over financial indiscretions.


He hosted financial presentations masked as "blessed life conferences" at churches across the country, the SEC said, and because Holley was a man who "prayed for your children," he was more trustworthy than a "banker" with their money.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced civil fraud charges Thursday, March 30, against Flint pastor Larry Holley. His assets have since been frozen.

Holley, 59, pastor of Flint-based Abundant Life Ministries, exploited church members, retirees and laid-off auto workers into investing in a real estate business he claimed was successful, according to the complaint filed by the SEC.

The MSP are also involved in an investigation into the alleged theft of funds from a Shiawassee County Catholic church.

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. He and a secretary, Nancy DeFrenn, are accused of taking nearly $500,000 from the parish.
Post Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:16 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Flint police forwarded the complaint to the Michigan State Police on Tuesday, March 28, because of Flint City Council President Kerry Nelson's affiliation with the church, according to Kaiser.

MLive-The Flint Journal could not reach Nelson for comment, who MLive-The Journal records show served as deacon and assistant treasurer at the church.
Post Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:17 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Retired priest extradited to face charges of embezzling from church

Dominic Adams | dadams5@mlive.com By Dominic Adams | dadams5@mlive.com

on April 04, 2017 at 12:28 PM, updated April 05, 2017 at 1:38 PM

OWOSSO, MI -- A retired priest wanted on suspicion of embezzling nearly $500,000 from a Catholic church in Shiawassee County is expected to be back in Michigan this week to appear in front of a judge.

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 officials with the Catholic Diocese of Lansing. The Diocese contacted the Michigan State Police and it was recommended a forensic audit, Diebold said.

The audit revealed there was at least $450,000 missing, diocese officials said.

Fisher was arrested in North Dakota on suspicion of seven counts of embezzlement, police previously said.

He is expected to arrive back in Michigan on Wednesday, April 5, and is set for arraignment on Thursday, April 6, according to Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Mark Pendergraff.

Initially, Fisher was fighting extradition from North Dakota, but later decided to waive the hearing, Pendergraff said.

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 previously 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.
Post Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:44 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Lawsuit alleges Flint City Council President helped embezzle millions of dollars from church
May 30, 2017Jiquanda Johnson

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FLINT, MI – Members of a Flint church have filed a civil lawsuit against five people including Flint City Council President Kerry Nelson after claims that millions of dollars went unaccounted for.
Four members at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church allege that Nelson along with the church’s pastor, Rev. Lewis Randolph, his son, Dietrick Randolph who serves as assistant trustee, LeDon McNeil, chair of the trustee board and Antioch’s financial secretary, Delores Roberts may have embezzled more than $1 million from the church.

The four members of the church filed their lawsuit with the Genesee County Circuit Court on May 23, 2017 on behalf of other of the members.

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah moved a May 30, 2017 hearing regarding the lawsuit to Tuesday, June 6 , 2017 at 10 a.m. giving process servers time to find both Rev. Randolph and his son, McNeil and Roberts.

The initial complaint was filed with the Flint Police Department early April, said Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson.

“It was moved on right way,” said Johnson. “We turned it over to the state police immediately.” Johnson said the complaint was turned over to the Michigan State Police Department because of Nelson’s potential involvement.

MSP officials said last week that they were waiting on more documents before they turned their investigation back over to the Flint Police Department.

Flint Beat could not immediately reach Nelson who serves as Antioch’s assistant finance secretary.
Post Tue May 30, 2017 4:03 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Our ‘integrity is severely tarnished’: Christianity Today editor says ‘no one will believe a word we say’ after Alabama
Bob Brigham BOB BRIGHAM
12 DEC 2017 AT 23:16 ET



The editor-in-chief of Christianity Today posted a provocative editorial that concludes “Christian faith” was the clear loser in the Alabama special election.


“No matter the outcome of today’s special election in Alabama for a coveted US Senate seat, there is already one loser: Christian faith. When it comes to either matters of life and death or personal commitments of the human heart, no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation,” the editorial explained. “Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished.”

Democrat Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in the special election.

The editorial noted the Alabama special election, “put an exclamation point on a problem that has been festering for a year and a half—ever since a core of strident conservative Christians began to cheer for Donald Trump without qualification and a chorus of other believers decried that support as immoral.”

“The Christian leaders who have excused, ignored, or justified his unscrupulous behavior and his indecent rhetoric have only given credence to their critics who accuse them of hypocrisy,” the editorial continued.



“When a public Christian is accused of some immorality, the honorable and moral thing to do has been to take a leave of absence until the matter of settled,” Christianity Today noted. “This is precisely what Moore, who sees himself as a godly and moral candidate, has refused to do.”

The Republicanism of some evangelical Christians harms the gospel of Jesus, the editorial argued.

“When combative conservative Christians refuse to suffer patiently in the public square, retaliate when insults are hurled at them, and do not refrain from the appearance of evil, they sabotage not only their political cause but the cause they care about the most: the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Christianity Today concluded.

Read the powerful editorial.
Post Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:33 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Religious right leader accused of sexually abusing teenage boy — and claiming it was a God-sanctioned secret
Texas Tribune TEXAS TRIBUNE
12 DEC 2017 AT 13:28 ET


Paul Pressler in a video endorsing Ted Cruz for president (Screenshot)
!

A former Texas state judge and lawmaker has been accused of sexually abusing a young man for several decades starting when the boy was just 14, according to a lawsuit filed in October in Harris County.

The lawsuit alleges that Paul Pressler, a former justice on the 14th Court of Appeals who served in the Texas state house from 1957–59, sexually assaulted Duane Rollins, his former bible study student, several times per month over a period of years. According to the filing, the abuse started in the late 1970s and continued less frequently after Rollins left Houston for college in 1983.

In a November court filing, Pressler “generally and categorically [denied] each and every allegation” in Rollins’ petition.

The abuse, which consisted of anal penetration, took place in Pressler’s master bedroom study, the suit alleges. According to the lawsuit, Pressler told Rollins he was “special” and that the sexual contact was their God-sanctioned secret.

Pressler is a leading figure on the religious right in Texas and was a key player in the “conservative resurgence” of Southern Baptism, a movement in the 1970s and 1980s that aimed to oust liberals and moderates from the church’s organizational structure. Pressler’s wife Nancy, his former law partner Jared Woodfill, Woodfill Law Firm, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and First Baptist Church of Houston are also named as defendants in the suit.


Rollins seeks damages of over $1 million.

When asked about the suit, Ted Tredennick, Pressler’s attorney, pointed to Rollins’ record, which is peppered with arrests on DUIs and other charges over the last several decades.

“Mr. Rollins is clearly a deeply troubled man, with a track record of multiple felonies and incarceration, and it is the height of irresponsibility that anyone would present such a bizarre and frivolous case — much less report on it,” Tredennick said. He would not give any further comment or respond to specific questions.

Rollins and his lawyer, Daniel Shea, say his past legal troubles stemmed from behavior fueled by alcohol and drug addictions sparked by the childhood sexual abuse. In 1998, Rollins was jailed for 10 years on burglary charges. Pressler advocated for Rollins to receive parole in 2000, when he was first eligible, and then again in 2002. In his 2002 letter to the parole board, Pressler pledged to employ Rollins and be “personally involved in every bit of Duane’s life with supervision and control.”

Woodfill called the accusations against Pressler “absolutely false” and described the lawsuit as “an attempt to extort money.” He also said he plans to file counter charges against Rollins and his lawyer for a “frivolous and harassing lawsuit.”

Shea said Pressler previously settled with Rollins over a 2004 battery charge for an incident in a Dallas hotel room. That settlement is not public, Shea said, but reference is made to such an agreement in recent court filings.

Shea said that though Rollins filed that assault charge more than a decade ago, he had a “suppressed memory” of the sexual abuse until he made an outcry statement to a prison psychologist in November 2015. Harvey Rosenstock, a psychiatrist who has been working with Rollins since August 2016, wrote in a letter included in the suit that Rollins is a “reliable historian for the childhood sexual trauma to which he was repeatedly and chronically subjected.”

Pressler was President George H.W. Bush’s pick to lead the Office of Government Ethics in 1989, but the administration ultimately ruled Pressler out after an FBI background investigation. News reports from the time suggest that Pressler was dismissed due to unspecified ethics issues.

BY EMMA PLATOFF, THE TEXAS TRIBUNE
Post Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:38 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

News Prince George’s County News
afro.com


Alexandria, Va. Church Pastor, Wife, Convicted of $2 Million Fraud Scheme
by: The Associated Press / (Photo/Victorious Life Church via Facebook) / December 19, 2017 03652

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A Virginia pastor and his wife have been convicted of defrauding members of their congregation and investors in a Nigerian oil scheme.

Fifty-three-year-old Terry Wayne Millender and 57-year-old Brenda Millender were convicted by a federal jury Monday of a $2 million fraud scheme, according to the United States Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia.


Terry Wayne and Brenda Millender. (Facebook Photo)
Terry Millender is the former senior pastor of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria.

Prosecutors said the couple recruited investors for companies they said provided small loans to poor people in developing countries and helped broker Nigerian oil deals. Prosecutors said the Millenders used investor money to pay for golf trips, a birthday party, and to help purchase a $1.75 million home.

The Millenders are set to be sentenced in March.
Post Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:25 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

‘I’ve never felt fearful like that’: April Ryan says pro-Trump pastor screamed profanities at her after MLK event
Brad Reed BRAD REED
18 JAN 2018 AT 13:30 ET

April Ryan, White House correspondent anf Washington, D.C., bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks (Photo: Screen capture)
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Reporter April Ryan revealed this week that a pro-Trump pastor who attended the White House’s Martin Luther King Day event on Monday screamed profanities at her after she tried to ask President Donald Trump if he was a racist.



While talking at an event held by the Newseum and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ryan told the story of her confrontation with the pastor to illustrate the frightening environment that now faces reporters.

Ryan said that she was confronted by a black pastor attending the event after she had tried to yell out questions to Trump, who had duly ignored them while exiting the room.

“There was an expletive, and words were exchanged, and said, ‘You were rude,'” Ryan recalled. “I kept saying, ‘This is about the First Amendment.'”

However, the pastor did not calm down and instead continued yelling at her more loudly.


“I’ve never felt fearful like that,” Ryan said. “I was doing my job, whether you like the question or not… This is the President of the United States, and when you have people… wondering about comments that you’ve been making over and over… I had a right to ask. It’s a sad day when you have to ask the sitting U.S. president if he’s a racist.”
Post Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:04 am 
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