Most entries on these pages only contain arrests, charges, or indictments, which may eventually be reduced, dropped, or expunged, and as such, these actors may in fact be innocent in a court of law. These are just a few of the fraud & swindle incidents we have identified. There are many more to be uploaded, so please check back.
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- El Centro-based Imperial Valley Ministries, San Diego, CA. Victor Gonzalez (church leader) arrested and charged with “conspiracy, forced labor, document servitude and benefits fraud.” He is alleged to have used homeless persons to panhandle and also give over their welfare benefits to church leaders. The church also allegedly demanded their identification papers as a means of holding them in servitude. Church leader arraigned on forced labor, fraud charges.
- Grace Presbyterian Church, Winston-Salem, MA. Kenneth Ray Sullivan Jr. (clerk of session: i.e. treasurer). He was charged with misappropriating in excess of $260,000. The suspect was accused of bragging about new wealth on social media. He was also suspected of opening banks in the church’s name without permission and swindling $171,906 from several IRA accounts of investor relatives. He was indicted by a Grand Jury. Former church leader accused of stealing $268,000 from Grace Presbyterian and more than $100,000 from IRAs.
- Emmanuel Fellowship Church, AL. Ricky Van Mitchell (pastor) was charged with insurance fraud and arson for attempting to burn down his church. His wife was also indicted as a co-conspirator. Pastor, wife charged with fraud in church fire.
- Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, Chicago, IL. Leon Finney Jr. (pastor) accused in court of $4.2M in unpaid payroll taxes and fines. His church was in foreclosure. He was also accused of “pocketing the rents” on a strip mall property he was involved with. Parishioners stand with Rev. Leon Finney amid fraud allegations: ‘His heart’s in the right place’. Rev. Leon Finney Jr.’s free fall.
- Greater Victory Church of Memphis, Memphis, TN. Jaycolby M. Robinson (pastor). Police report filed and being investigated alleging a “false pretenses/swindle/confidence game.” The suspect is alleged to have “hired” staff for a nonexistent church. The victims never received any pay for their work. Church plant scam alleged in Memphis.
- Greater Faith World Outreach Church, Florence, SC. Tony McElveen Jr. (pastor) pled guilty to “bank fraud and identity theft.” It was alleged laundered money using his church and its elderly members, as well as his position as a bank officer. Total loss was $107,000. Pastor pleads guilty to bank fraud, ID theft, laundering money through church.
- Church for the Healthy Self, Westminster, CA. Kent Whitney (pastor) was charged in a lawsuit alleging a $25M Ponzi scheme. The Vietnamese community was targeted soliciting investment payments. SEC alleges that Little Saigon church fronted a $25 million Ponzi scheme.
- Kingston Group (LDS), UT. Jacob Kingston (chief executive officer) pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. This was a complicated financial fraud of a cult sect of the Latter-Day Church of Christ where members pool resources. Fallout from Washakie fraud could cost polygamous Kingston Group members their businesses and homes.
- Kingston Group (LDS), UT. Isaiah Kingston (chief financial officer) pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. This was a complicated financial fraud of a cult sect of the Latter-Day Church of Christ where members pool their resources. Fallout from Washakie fraud could cost polygamous Kingston Group members their businesses and homes.
- St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Downingtown, PA. Joseph McLoone (priest) arrested for allegedly diverting church funds in the amount of $98,405.50. It is alleged he diverted money into secret accounts and by misappropriating fees. Priest accused of stealing nearly $100K from Downingtown parish.
- Deer Park Community Church, Chapel Hill, NC. JianGang “Frank” Lan (pastor) was charged with allegedly trafficking in counterfeit bracelets. The estimated retail value is estimated at 2.6 M. Chapel Hill pastor nabbed with $24 million in fake Cartier bracelets, officials say.
- Old Beth-el General Baptist Church, Flushing, MI. Raymond M. Vliet Jr. (pastor) charged with alleged embezzlement from a vulnerable adult. The loss was estimated at $50,000. Credit union loan officer helps police arrest accused ‘con artist’ pastor.
- Revival Miracle Temple church, Muskegon, MI. Pamela Duncan (pastor’s wife) charged with fraud against a power company. It is alleged that when power was shutoff to her properties, she opened new accounts for them in different names. Pastor’s wife accused of bilking power company.
- First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. W. Neil “Doc” Gallagher (radio evangelist) arrested for running an alleged Ponzi scheme for swindling senior citizen investors. He billed himself as the “Money Doctor.” He was indicted for securities fraud and money laundering. Total loss was in excess of $19 M. Christian financial planner praised by Robert Jeffress facing Ponzi scheme charge.
- Rock Community Christian Church, Detroit, MI. Julius Baker (pastor) was sentenced for fraudulent credit card transactions in the amount of at least $69,000. Detroit pastor falls from grace, gets prison for fraud run from church.
- Anointed Vision Church, Norcross, GA. Melva Washington (head pastor) arrested for allegedly defrauding DACA immigrants seeking legal status. Norcross pastor accused of defrauding possible immigrants.
- First Christian Church, Columbus, IN. Justin White (pastor) arrested for allegedly faking a home burglary. Imprisoned ex-Indiana pastor wants electronics returned.
- Morning Star Christian Church, Boise, ID. Gennady Babichenko (pastor) arrested in an alleged counterfeiting and money-laundering scheme with international businesses. Judge releases 2 suspects in counterfeit phone scheme – but a 3rd will stay in jail.
- Windsor Village United Methodist Church, Houston, TX. Kirbyjon Caldwell (pastor) was charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering. The loss is estimated at $3.5M. This pastor was spiritual advisor to George W. Bush, former president of the U.S. His co-defendant has pled guilty. Guilty plea in fraud case; Megachurch aastor awaits trial.
- Winners Church, West Palm Beach, FL. Jose Aman (former church director) was charged in a federal complaint for a Ponzi scheme consisting of millions of dollars. Both the church and several illicit businesses used the same financial officer and money was easily transferred over. The church refuses to return the illegal funds and authorities have frozen the church accounts. Pastor at suburban West Palm church won’t turn over $1.7 million.
- Tabernacle Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA. Roy McClendon-Thompson (chief financial officer) arrested for embezzling $103,843.30 from his church. The suspect allegedly killed his lover and died in a police chase. Teacher accused of stealing $100K from church weeks before allegedly murdering lover.
- Abundant Living Faith Ministries, Tallahassee, FL. Julien Bobbie Williams (pastor) charged with theft and fraud for allegedly taking advantage of two church members. Total loss was estimated at over $40,000. Tallahassee pastor facing charges of fraud, grand theft.
- Westminster Presbyterian Church, Upper St. Clair, PA. David Reiter (business manager) was arrested for embezzling in excess of $1.2 M. He and his wife were charged with “theft by deception, receiving stolen property, theft by unlawful taking, forgery and criminal conspiracy.” South Park couple charged in $1.2 million theft from Upper St. Clair church.
- Victorious Life Church, Alexandria, VA. Terry Wayne Millender (pastor) charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering fraud. He was sentenced for defrauding congregants of millions. Virginia pastor and his wife found guilty of scamming millions of dollars.
- Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Hildale, Utah. Lyle Jeffs was sentenced to almost five years in prison for diverting food stamp money. Jeffs has been ordered to pay restitution. FBI videos show how members of Warren Jeffs’ polygamous sect were caught in $11 million food coupon fraud by undercover surveillance. Warren Jeffs sect members caught 11m food coupon fraud.
- Hope Cathedral, NJ. Trevón Gross (pastor) convicted for Bitcoin fraud, and bribery. Joel Osteen-Endorsed Pastor Sentenced to Five Years in Coin.mx Case.
- Church of the Overcomer, Trainer, Delaware County, PA. Keith Collins (pastor) arrested for more than 760 counts relating to theft and fraud. D.A.: Trio stole $1M from elderly victims in their care.
- Houston’s First Baptist Church, Houston, TX. Jerrell G. Altic (former minister) admitted to embezzling in excess of $800,000 from the church. Former minister gets 10 years in prison for stealing $800,000 from First Baptist Church.
- Rosedale Missionary Baptist Church, New Orleans, LA. Gervais Allison Sr. (pastor) charged with disability insurance fraud. He is alleged to have failed to inform the insurance company about his return to work with the police department. NOLA cop busted for insurance fraud.
- Victorious Life Church, Alexandria, VA. Terry Wayne Millender (pastor) arrested for an alleged fraud scheme. Va. Pastor, Wife Arrested in $1,200,000 Congregation Fraud Scheme.
- Broadway Baptist Church, Sand Springs, OK. Mark Wayne Miller (lead pastor) arrested for allegedly scamming parishioners of $46,000. He also admitted to “painkilling and gambling addictions.” Former Sand Springs pastor accused of scamming church members out of tens of thousands.
- Impact Lives 4 Christ Ministries, Jacksonville, FL. Supreme Joyner (pastor/president) arrested for alleged fraud. He is alleged to not actually have a church but was receiving offerings through a website and Facebook page. Jacksonville man claiming to be pastor arrested on fraud charges.
- Home of Christ 4 Christian Church (HOC4), San Jose, CA. Jonathan Chang (financial manager) and his wife Grace Chang indicted by a federal grand jury for alleged embezzlement of approximately $7.4 M. The alleged victims were the church and a wealthy donor. Cupertino couple indicted for embezzeling donated funds.
- Last Call Ministry, Holly Hill, SC. William Arthur Holmes (contractor) arrested for allegedly absconding with $20,000 for work he was to perform to build an addition to the church. Charleston man accused of defrauding Holly Hill church.
- Unidentified church, Gatlinburg, TN. Roger Williams (preacher) arrested and pled guilty to “money laundering, mail fraud and obstruction of federal taxes.” Total loss is over $1 M, in a so-called Ponzi scheme targeting investors. East Tennessee preacher pleads guilty to money laundering, fraud.
- Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist, Los Angeles, CA. Charles Thomas Sebesta (chairman of the church board) arrested based on indictment for allegedly stealing from his church. Total loss is $11.4 Million. Former Christian Science Church chairman indictment alleges $11.4 million fraud; Could face 250 years in prison.
- United Pentecostal Church, Butte, MT. Kenneth Emmett Hogue (pastor/treasurer) pled guilty to embezzling $288,757. Butte pastor to plead guilty to embezzling from United Pentecostal Church.
- Sonrise Church of Clovis, Fresno, CA. Sherman Smith (pastor) charged with fraud for a “proposed church development.” Smith collected money for an “income-generating development” but it is alleged, he used it for personal expenses and investments. The senior pastor issued a written statement confirming the losses. According to parishioners opposed to him: “Smith is a convicted felon that was charged with 17 counts of mail fraud and six counts of money laundering relating to running a ponzi scheme and defrauding investors involved in church developments. He was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for his crimes, had to serve three years of supervised release…” Former Clovis pastor could spend 20 years in prison if convicted of alleged fraud.
- Zion Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, Windsor, Bertie County, NC. Clarence Edward Cherry (former treasurer) charged with embezzlement. Total loss is at least $76,000. Former church treasurer arrested.
- Rock Community Christian Church, Detroit, MI. Julius Baker (pastor) arrested and convicted, Rock Community Christian Church, Detroit, MI. Detroit pastor falls from grace, gets prison for fraud run from church.
- Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, New York, NY. Jermaine Grant and Lincoln Warrington were prosecuted federally for allegedly diverting money to a fake entertainment company. They pled guilty. Pastor of church labeled a hate group spent its money on Disneyland trips and cars, feds say.
- New Life Holiness Church, Memphis, TN. Frederick G. Smith (pastor) arrested for allegedly “taking advantage” of elderly woman, swindling nearly $50,000 by charging to credit cards opened in her name [identity theft], but never paying her back. He was charged with theft and forgery. Memphis pastor and wife arrested, accused of stealing $50K from 77-year-old church member.
- Unaffiliated Catholic Priest, Worcester, MA. Thomas Fleming (retired priest) pleaded “guilty to one count of money laundering.” This was an international online dating scam. “Women who responded to the online ads were asked to send money, which prosecutors say moved through two bank accounts belonging to Fleming.” Retired priest pleads guilty in online dating scam.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Republic of the Marshall Islands, & Mesa, AZ. Paul Petersen (missionary) was charged with “communications fraud, human smuggling and sale of a child,” as well as federal charges, including Medicaid fraud. Allegedly, pregnant women were brought from the Marshall Islands to the US where they were matched with adoptive families. The state’s loss was estimated at over $800,000. ‘Purest form of human trafficking’: Arizona official indicted in adoption fraud scheme.
- Slavic Evangelical Baptist Church, Brookhaven, PA. Vitaly Korchevsky (pastor) convicted of securities fraud conspiracy and money laundering. This case involved computer hacking. Total loss was $14.4 million. Pastor convicted in historic hack-based insider trading gets 5 years in prison, ordered to pay $14.4M.
- Fellowship Baptist Church, Vacaville, CA. Mark Lewis (pastor) arrested for allegedly conspiring to commit arson for profit and church identity theft. Vacaville pastor arrested for second time in 2 weeks.
- Windsor Village United Methodist Church, Houston, TX. Kirbyjon Caldwell (senior pastor) and Gregory Allen Smith charged with alleged wire fraud and money laundering of elderly investors. Megachurch pastor charged with defrauding elderly investors.
- Rock Wealth International Ministries, Charlotte, NC. William Todd Coontz (preacher) was convicted of tax fraud/filing false tax returns. NC preacher bought his cars and $1 million home in a tax fraud scheme, jury says.
- Passion For Truth Ministries, St. Louis, MO. Jim Staley (pastor) pled guilty for defrauding investors, and wire fraud. Controversial St. Charles pastor admits defrauding elderly investors.
- King Branch Road Church of Christ, Pigeon Forge, TN. Roger Dale Williams (pastor/evangelist) “plead guilty to money laundering, mail fraud and obstruction of federal taxes.” East Tennessee preacher pleads guilty to money laundering, fraud.
- Vincent Revival Center, Vincent, AL. TimothyTillman (former pastor) was convicted for passing himself off as a former navy seal. Handsome devil? Case of former Shelby County pastor convicted in shotgun death of wife to be featured tonight on TV.
- Unidentified church, Hollandale Beach, FL. Joe Alvarez (faith healer) (aka Robert Johnson, Dorian Johnson, Robert Dorian, Joey Alvarez and Bob Johnson) arrested for swindling two women for $87,500. Hallandale Beach police: ‘Faith healer’ swindled 2 women out of $85,700.
- City of Refuge Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX. Russell Thompson Jr. (former associate pastor) arrested for theft. Arrested Houston pastor accused in $200K theft of church donations.
- St. Michael the Archangel Church, Greenwich, CT. Michael R. Moynihan (former pastor) arrested for obstructing justice after embezzling church money. A Dazzling Priest’s Lurid Fall, to Drug Case Suspect.
- Big Sky Christian Center, Hamilton, MT. Harris Himes (lead pastor). Pastor Who Called for Death Penalty for Gays Convicted, Could Face 30 Years for Fraud.
- Lakewood Church, Houston, TX. Ephren W. Taylor, II (pastor) prosecuted for selling “promissory notes” in a Ponzi scheme. Church swindler Ephren Taylor headed to federal prison for 19 years.
- Unidentified church, Raleigh, NC. Wendy Connor (co-offender with Ephren Taylor II) was arrested for “interstate transportation of money taken by fraud” to which she pled guilty. Church swindler Ephren Taylor headed to federal prison for 19 years.
- Unidentified church. Chase Newman (evangelist) “charged with criminal impersonation, forgery, larceny, failure to appear in court and numerous charges related to credit card fraud.” Case continued for evangelist accused of scamming Newman’s Own.
- God First Ministries, Miami Gardens, FL. Garry Souffrant (pastor) arrested for mortgage fraud. Convicted of “conspiring to defraud major banks” using local drug traffickers. Miami-Dade pastor, wife convicted of $7M fraud; face 5 to 30 years in prison.
- Love & Worship Center, Apalachicola, FL. Leonard Martin (pastor) arrested on charges of grand theft regarding a false billing scam. Pastor charged in billing scheme.
- Mount Olive Baptist Church, Virginia Beach, Lamont Duane Brown (former pastor) charged with fraud and counts of embezzlement. The loss is estimated at about $9,000. Former Va. Beach pastor charged with embezzlement.
- James William Rupard (pastor) arrested for insurance fraud. Sandhills Community Church, Laurinburg, NC. NORTH CAROLINA: Pastor’s 30 year old double-murder conviction shocks many.
- Unidentified Pentecostal church, Los Angeles, CA. Christine Daniel (minister) charged in a federal criminal indictment with wire and mail fraud. She was also charged with evasion of taxes and tampering with witnesses. Doctor turned minister prescribed cancer patients herbs and prayer, charging them thousands.
- Cases to be added. Please check back.
- Unidentified church, Houston, TX. Charles Gilford (pastor) arrested for gambling away church funds at casino. Pastor, wife gambled away $430,000 from Houston church.
- St. John Roman Catholic Church, Darien, CT. Michael Jude Fay (former priest) arrested for stealing $1.3M. A Dazzling Priest’s Lurid Fall, to Drug Case Suspect.
- Dinosaur Adventure Land, Pensacola, FL. Kent Hovind prosecuted in 2006 for tax fraud and failing to collect employee taxes. Alabama’s Dinosaur Adventure Land teaches that evolution is ‘dumbest religion in the history of the world’.
- King Branch Road Church of Christ, Pigeon Forge, TN. Roger Dale Williams (pastor) plead guilty to federal mail fraud and tax charges. It is alleged he and others used an investment club to take advantage of his church members. Total loss was $1.3 M. Pastor sentenced to 5-plus years in prison for fraud, ordered to repay more than $1M.
- Carpenter’s Home Church (megachurch), Lakeland, FL. Daniel Strader (pastor’s son) arrested and convicted of selling false securities in the amount of $2.3 M. Carpenter’s Home Church.
- Holy Alamo Christian Church, Memphis, TN. Tony Alamo (aka Bernard Lazar Hoffman )(evangelist) arrested for tax evasion. Evangelist Alamo Arrested on Tax Fraud Charges.
- Impersonating a Police Officer
Abyssinian Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO. Michael Wallace (pastor) arrested for impersonating a police officer. Pastor charged with impersonating police officer in St. Charles. 2018.
Bridges of Hope Community Church, Owatonna, MN. Keith Douglas Haskell (pastor) arrested for “pretending to be a police officer and pepper spraying” a teen shoplifter. Charges: Pastor Impersonated Police Officer, Pepper-Sprayed Teenage Shoplifters. 2017.
- Miracle Spring Water
People United for Christ, Bradbury, CA. Peter Popoff (pastor) suspected of fraud – no arrest yet. Peter Popoff, the Born-Again Scoundrel.
Word for the World, Dallas, TX. Peter Popoff (pastor) suspected of fraud- no arrest yet. Peter Popoff, the Born-Again Scoundrel.