[Hpn] HOMELESS-SCAM Church Fraud Trial begins jury selection - Greater Ministries International Church (fwd) Ministries International Church (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Tue, 9 Jan 2001 06:52:38 -0800 (PST)

"Church leaders ... led investors to believe profits would be used to feed the homeless ..., prosecutors said." -- from article below http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010108/us/greater_ministries_1.html FWD Associated Press - Monday January 08, 2001 JURY SELECTION IN TAMPA GREATER MINISTRIES CHURCH FRAUD TRIAL TO BEGIN TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Prosecutors say they intend to use videotapes seized during a raid to help prove that five former church officials bilked investors out of $1 million US in a pyramid scheme. Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of Gerald Payne, his wife, Betty, pastor Haywood "Don" Hall, David Whitfield and Patrick Talbert. They were allegedly among seven members of the Greater Ministries International Church who spearheaded the lucrative scheme, in which money from later investors was used to pay off earlier investors. From 1993 to 1998, parishioners of the Tampa-based church were told they could double investments of $250 or more in 17 months, authorities allege. Investigators estimate as many as 18,000 people from across the United States invested as much as $500 million, money the church said came from shrewd deals in gold and platinum mines and generous interest from overseas banks. Attorneys for the federal government are expected to show jurors videotapes seized during a raid of the Greater Ministries offices in 1999. In the tapes, the group is repeatedly reminded to refer to investments and profits as gifts and blessings, prosecutors said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Mosakowski said church elders pocketed five per cent commissions - amounting to more than $1.3 million - for recruiting people into the scheme. In 1998, church officials decided to cap outlays to each elder at $40,000 a month, he said. Church leaders said returns would be considered tax-free gifts from the church and led investors to believe profits would be used to feed the homeless and support foreign missions, prosecutors said. "This was no scheme," Payne said in court papers, "but a true Christian program of the church, which, through divine guidance, was able to bless people who donated funds approximately twice the amount." The trial is expected to last four weeks. James Chambers and Andrew Krishak were also charged, but each pleaded guilty last year to a single count of conspiracy and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors. Both face a maximum five years in prison and $250,000 fines at sentencing March 12. END FORWARD **In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.** Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People: ************************************************************ 9000+ articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people INFO & to join/leave list - Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ************************************************************