Illinois Clergymen Charged with Tax Offenses/Ministers accused of stealing funds : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

In light of the recent allegations in the catholic church, it did not surprise me that this artilce made it to CNN, the national news. In your opinion, what should happen to these clergy persons? Thanks.

Illinois Clergymen Charged With Tax Offenses By Associated Press

May 7, 2004, 12:40 PM EDT

CHICAGO -- A minister who allegedly bought a Mercedes-Benz and a priest who was ratted on by church whistleblowers have been charged with federal tax offenses alleging they used church money for personal expenses.

Prosecutors said Thursday that Bishop William Anthony Ellis, minister at the Apostolic Pentecostal Church of Morgan Park, skimmed about $1,000 a week from Sunday offerings and used a church credit card and bank account for personal reasons, including the purchase of a Mercedes.

Authorities said Ellis, paid a salary of $74,200 in 1999, actually took in $180,000 that year. He faces seven charges including four counts of filing false tax returns.

In the other case, the Rev. Arthur LaPore of St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Joliet was charged with one count of filing a false tax return. He was accused of hiding at least $32,760 in income skimmed from church funds, collection plates and spaghetti dinner fund-raisers.

Joliet police said David Pretto, a church janitor who also ran the St. Anthony's fund-raisers, and about 30 parishioners came forward with the allegations against LaPore in 1999 after the diocese failed to respond to their complaints. They said they suspected LaPore was using spaghetti dinner money to pay for a $537,000 home.

Police forwarded the information to the Internal Revenue Service, which seized several church documents in February 2000. Pretto said LaPore fired him in 2001.

LaPore, 56, had been placed on administrative leave, meaning he cannot wear clerical garb, engage in public ministry or be addressed as "Father," diocese spokesman John Cullen said.

His attorney, Daniel Purdom, said LaPore was cooperating with the government, but he would not say how LaPore planned to plead. James Montgomery, Ellis' attorney, said he is sure his client will be vindicated.

Filing a false tax return carries a prison term of up to three years for each count. Copyright 2004, The Associated Press

-- Anonymous, May 10, 2004

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