Chicago Pastor Allegedly Steals $142K From Federal Fund For Needy Children To Buy Bentley
Tell the truth and shame, shame, SHAME the devil.
A Chicago pastor is making national headlines after authorities say he defrauded a federal fund intended to help needy children and used it to buy luxury items like a Bentley. The Chicago Tribune reports that Rev Clarence Smith Jr, 45, of the New Life Impact Church, pleaded not guilty to four counts of fraud in US District Court.
Smith is accused of over-reporting to the state the number of children, elderly and disabled his church fed through their program, he then allegedly wrote personal checks to himself. Prosecutors allege that he billed the state $ 1 million, which was paid in two separate checks in July 2016.
The Tribune reports that Smith then withdrew money from the church’s bank account and wrote checks for expenses unrelated to the church. One such check was a $142,000 cashier’s check for a 2015 Bentley Flying Spur luxury sedan for himself.
Here’s the kicker.
When Smith was questioned about the number of children served by the federal funds he suddenly couldn’t find the official records and claimed they’d been damaged in a flood.
The newspaper reports that Smith told the Illinois Board of Education, which locally administers the program, that records showing the number of children the church had served meals to ‘had been damaged in a flood and were no longer available.’
This is not the first time Smith has been accused of financial fraud, The Chicago Tribune reports that in 2001, he pleaded guilty to a charge of financial exploitation of the elderly after he used the credit union account of a deceased man and wrote checks to himself totaling over $100,000.
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) January 11, 2020
Following that, in 2012 he filed for bankruptcy reporting that he only had $20 cash to his name and wouldn’t be able to pay the $80K he owed in restitution.
The Tribune also reports that in 2015 and 2016, he was sued by two food supply companies for failing to pay them, although both suits were settled out of court.
After the Tribune’s article was published, Smith posted the following message on Facebook:
“To everyone who has [seen] this negative article about me in the press I say wait until you get all the facts,” The Tribune reports he wrote.
‘It totally hurt me that after fighting back and forth with the state for 5 years that I have been charged with fraud from the food program. Of course the media would portray me as a criminal but didn’t mention the multiple daycares that I had running and several other businesses that I was a part of.
‘I’m not here to prove or explain myself to anyone. I’m going to fight this with everything I have in me. For those of you who know me and won’t rush to judgement please pray for me and for those of you who are looking to throw me or the Church under the bus pray for me also. Peace.”
Another day, another shady Pastor. You really HATE to see it.
A Chicago pastor has been charged with stealing from a federal program that feeds needy kids — spending $142,000 on a Bentley for himself https://t.co/bnhslSTLnA
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) January 10, 2020