No Take-Backs • Easter Gunshot • Suspicious Loans: News Roundup
This week's news headlines that affect churches.
No Take-Backs • Easter Gunshot • Suspicious Loans: News Roundup

No Take-Backs

Feds Press Megachurch to Return $300,000 Donated by Ponzi Schemer

The perpetrator of Michigan’s largest Ponzi scheme, with scams totaling over $46 million, attended a Michigan church for years and gave a total of $300,000 in donations, says the IRS. Now, the federal government is looking for assets it can use to reimburse victims of those scams, including asking the Michigan church to give back the funds. The church, however, says it is not responsible for reimbursing its donated funds.

"[The church] had no knowledge of the source of the funds, nor was it in any way complicit with this donor," wrote the church leadership in a letter, according to "We have prayerfully considered your request that the Church return all or part of this donor's gifts and tithe monies, and must respectfully decline to do so."

Suspicious Loans

Couple Sentenced for Church Theft

An Illinois couple was sentenced to 30 months each of conditional discharge for the theft of over $41,000 from a local church, according to The wife of the couple was the congregational financial officer of the church and an employee of a local savings and loan. The couple was caught after the president of the savings and loan noticed several loans were taken against the church’s certificates of deposit. Fortunately for the church, family and friends of the couple have made donations in order to reimburse the church of the full amount that was taken.

You can help ensure a safe, financially sound ministry with our downloadable eBook, Essential Guide to Internal Controls for Churches.

Overloaded Shuttles

Church Shuttle Leads to Federal Suit, Recall of More Than 8,000 Vehicles

A South Carolina church filed a civil suit against Starcraft Bus and parent company Forest River after the church’s purchased shuttle bus had issues with how much weight it could safely carry. The manufacturer’s warranty stated the bus could hold a maximum of 19,500 lbs. That figure turns out to have been understated, meaning owners could potentially exceed the vehicles’ safe weight limit during normal operation without realizing it. The vehicles have since been recalled according to The Post and Courier.

Keep your church safe on the road with our downloadable resource, Transportation Safety for Your Church.

Easter Gunshot

Gun Goes Off in Church During Easter Vigil

An Easter service gave attendees quite a scare after a gun went off mid-service. Local authorities said an attendee had a gun in his pocket that went off when he stood up, according to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. The bullet grazed the man’s hand.

"I immediately took a step back and was about to take cover. You never know if you're safe anymore in this world. It's a shame to know you can't go into church without having something like this happen," said a bystander at the service.

Don’t neglect your own church’s security. See Does Your Church Need a Security Guard? for a helpful checklist.

Addiction Plus Theft

Man Stole $170,000 from Churches to Fuel Cocaine Addiction

A man who stole nearly $170,000 in checks from church mailboxes was sentenced to almost four years in federal prison. “I began to commit criminal offenses to support my habits and the mounting financial debt that came along with it,” said the defendant as quoted by The Tennessean. The man claimed he stole money to pay for his addiction to cocaine. “Quite frankly, I’m thankful I was arrested and my drug and alcohol usage was brought to an immediate halt.”

To guard your own ministry from financial fraud, we’ve created a guide, We’ve Been Embezzled! Download your own copy on the Church Law & Tax Store.

We're always preparing the best and fastest ways to bring you the news in the context of expert advice. For more regular updates, follow us on Twitter @ChurchLawAndTax or on Facebook.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.


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