Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Former Va. Beach pastor charged with embezzlement

Police have charged the former pastor of a Baptist church with fraud and embezzlement after representatives from the church accused him of stealing thousands of dollars from the congregation.

Lamont Duane Brown, 45, of Suffolk, is accused of taking money from Mount Olive Baptist Church between June 2003 and July 2010, according to police and General District Court records online. He'd been a pastor for about 15 years before the church terminated his employment last year.
Brown is accused of increasing his salary without church approval, opening a credit card in the church's name and using it to pay for more than $6,000 in personal expenses, and writing three bad checks to the church, each for $1,000, said Officer Jimmy Barnes, a police spokesman.
Police arrested Brown on March 10 on felony charges of embezzlement, identity theft, credit card fraud and three counts of writing bad checks. He's been released on $7,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in court April 22.
Brown's attorney, Sonny Stallings, said the church accidentally overpaid him by $10,000 in 2009 and had worked out an agreement where he repaid $1,000 each month.
He paid back $4,000 but bounced three $1,000 checks, he said.
Brown did open a credit card jointly in his name and the church's name, but he made the payments, Stallings said.
Brown owes Mount Olive about $6,000, a debt that should be settled in civil, not criminal, court, Stallings said.
"When this gets to criminal court, I predict all these charge are going to be thrown out," Stallings said. "This is a faction of that church being vindictive."
Mount Olive Baptist Church is on North Birdneck Road in Seatack and is one of the city's oldest black congregations. It has about 300 members, said Isaac Smith Sr., a church deacon.

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