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Benevolence Funds and Money Laundering

A court affirmed a pastor's conviction for grand theft and money laundering as a result of his use of a church benevolence fund to pay more than $100,000 in personal expenses.

Last Reviewed: March 30, 2021
Florida
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Key point 7-21. Embezzlement refers to the wrongful conversion of funds that are lawfully in one's possession. Embezzlement is a common occurrence in churches because of weak internal controls.

A Florida court affirmed a pastor's conviction for grand theft and money laundering as a result of his use of a church benevolence fund to pay more than $100,000 in personal expenses.

The pastor served as pastor of a local congregation from 1995 until 2009. The church received donations from various sources, and the donations were divided among four bank accounts: the mortgage account, the operating account, the scholarship account, and the benevolent account. Parishioners could designate which account their contributions should be deposited, and each account had a dedicated use. As to the benevolent account, the funds were to be used solely to help those in need in the community, and the church ...

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Posted:
  • August 19, 2015
  • Last Reviewed: March 30, 2021

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