Monday, January 9, 2012

Michigan Pastor, Wife, Accused Of Looting Church As Much As $230K

Arthur L. Pearson
Arthur Lee Pearson, 38, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been accused of looting the church he ran as pastor, Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, out of as much as $237,000.  Authorities allege that Pearson and his wife, Gwendolyn Pearson, who served as bookkeeper at the church, used church funds for their own benefit, specifically to purchase personal items using checks and credit cards of the church.  Meanwhile the church as filed a civil lawsuit against Pearson to recover the monies.  Pearson has served as pastor for 3 1/2 years.

Read the story herehere and here.

Update (3/6/12): Pearson has been ordered to stand trial.

Update (5/6/12): Gerolanita Bailey, the former church bookkeeper, has been charged with embezzling about $26,000 from the church.  Read an update of the story here.

Update (4/4/13):

From WOODtv8

Pastor's embezzlement sentencing stayed

Arthur Pearson will work out restitution plan

Updated: Thursday, 04 Apr 2013, 3:00 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 04 Apr 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The sentencing of a Grand Rapids pastor who embezzled from his church, which may have lost more than $230,000 over three years, was delayed Thursday.

Arthur Pearson was granted a three-month stay of sentencing so he will have time to make arrangements for a 48-month restitution plan to repay more than $160,000.

In January 2013, Pearson pleaded no contest to embezzling between $50,000 and $100,000 from Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church.

Pearson turned himself in after allegations first surfaced in early January 2012. He initially claimed his contract did not specifically prevent him from using certain funds on personal items, such as car repairs and mall shopping trips.
His preliminary exam lasted for days over the course of a month. In March 2012, he was ordered to stand trial, but entered into a plea deal before that trial could begin. He was fired from the church in June 2012.

A representative from the church spoke in court Thursday about Pearson's change in behavior and how he changed the financial structure at the church.

A new sentencing date of July 11 was set.

A second person, former church bookkeeper Gerolanita Bailey, has also entered in to a plea deal in the case.


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