Pastors Stealing From Their Congregation Is Happening More These Days, James Edward Smith II Is Latest One Caught
The House of Worship is meant to be a haven of tranquilly and security. But, because their pastors committed the unthinkable, a number of churchgoers have been deprived of that. Some pastors have been exposed in recent years for abusing their flock and abandoning some members without a place of worship.
Brooklyn-based Bishop Lamor Whitehead gained notoriety this summer after being stolen with jewellery valued at more than $1 million while broadcasting live. The investigation found that the pastor was the real offender and had been embezzling money from the members. In NYC, he oversaw Leaders of Future. Whitehead was accused of making false statements about his parish on two counts of wire fraud, one crime of extortion, and two counts of extortion. He was able to defraud one woman after promising to use her retirement assets to buy her a new home worth $90,000.
Barry Minkow defrauded a gathering in California in 2014. Minkow, who was regarded as a “expert” at taking advantage of people, defrauded the San Diego place of worship of about $3 million. Minkow misused membership dues for his own gain by opening unauthorised accounts, forging checks, and using member funds. He was already serving a five-year prison sentence in Florida for securities fraud at the time he was apprehended.+
A Louisiana house of worship lost $900,000 in October after minister Charles Southall used the money to pay debts by laundering it. Both in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Southall held a position at the First Emanuel. He stole grants intended for schools and transferred the funds to personal accounts he shared with a complicit party.
A clergyman from Broward County has now joined the long list of con artists. John Edward Smith II had violated his Pompano Beach place of worship in a number of ways. Churchgoers complained in April 2022 that Smith had taken over the building illegally. Smith “submitted a false quit claim document that gave him possession of the church property and then sold it for $600,000 to utilise the money for his [substance] habit,” according to local news.
Smith’s was charged with a number of offences, including grand theft, fraudulent document filing, and fraud schemes.