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Feds: Texas pastor misused loan for Indiana church

Associated Press
July 27, 2010
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A Houston minister accused of using money borrowed to build a new church to buy a mink coat and a Mercedes Benz missed his initial hearing in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

An attorney for Rev. Wayne Taft Harris Jr. said Harris wasn't told of the hearing, which was rescheduled for Aug. 3.

"Just a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing," public defender Michael Donahoe said. He said Harris would plead not guilty at next week's hearing.

A July 7 federal indictment charging Harris with wire fraud accuses him of borrowing $482,000 in August 2005 from Third World Missions of Merritt Island, Fla., on behalf of Kingdom Builders Faith Church to build a church in Indianapolis. Third World operates Bible schools and orphanages in several countries and raises money from the interest on church construction loans.

Two days after the loan money was transferred, Harris bought a Mercedes Benz car for about $39,000 in the name of another apparent church group, Ever Increasing Kingdom Christian Center, according to the indictment. The following month, he filed papers to dissolve Kingdom Builders, it said.

In November, Harris paid $105,000 to buy a Christian bookstore in the name of yet another religious group, KingdomComm Ministry Resources Inc., the indictment says. It also accuses him of using $500 of the loan to buy a $2,000 mink coat with Versace buttons.

Harris later sent a fax to the mission group blaming an unidentified staff member for misappropriating the loan funds, the indictment says.

He posted a $25,000 bond and was released after surrendering July 16 to federal authorities in Houston.

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  • Church fraud
    Sadly, Church Fraud is a very real concern, with potential risk from the outside as well as within. There are simple steps to increase the security of your churches finances but it is difficult to know where to start. I recently found out about a Christian Accounting firm that offers online tools and support for churches. They have some excellent resources as well as an online questionnaire that will determine whether your church is at risk. Their service is called Weeds in the Garden.
  • Birds of a Feather do it together
    They all are alike. And to think a man of God would rip off the flock as such. It is as reidculous as the GOP not wanting America to move forward and feed the people out of work caused by GOP policies and special deals with their big business interest groups.
  • ????
    Harris is a bigger fish than Durham, Brizzi et.al. How bizarre....

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  1. The $104K to CRC would go toward debts service on $486M of existing debt they already have from other things outside this project. Keystone buys the bonds for 3.8M from CRC, and CRC in turn pays for the parking and site work, and some time later CRC buys them back (with interest) from the projected annual property tax revenue from the entire TIF district (est. $415K / yr. from just this property, plus more from all the other property in the TIF district), which in theory would be about a 10-year term, give-or-take. CRC is basically betting on the future, that property values will increase, driving up the tax revenue to the limit of the annual increase cap on commercial property (I think that's 3%). It should be noted that Keystone can't print money (unlike the Federal Treasury) so commercial property tax can only come from consumers, in this case the apartment renters and consumers of the goods and services offered by the ground floor retailers, and employees in the form of lower non-mandatory compensation items, such as bonuses, benefits, 401K match, etc.

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