Friday, September 30, 2005

Baptist church leaders face federal fraud charges

Timothy Pratt:


A federal grand jury has charged a pastor, his wife and an associate minister at what may be Nevada's oldest black Baptist church with using $330,000 with bank fraud, use of federal grant money to enrich themselves and other offenses. The U.S. attorney announced Tuesday the indictment of the Rev. Willie Davis, pastor at Second Baptist Church -- which is known as the "mother church of Las Vegas," according to its Web site -- his wife, Emma, and the Rev. McTheron Jones.

The Justice Department gave a federal grant to a nonprofit organization Davis heads called the Alliance Collegiums Association of Nevada in late 2002. With the $423,000 grant the organization was supposed to open and operate halfway houses for former convicts.

The indictment says the defendants never opened a halfway house but they did spend about $330,000 of the grant, among the first for Southern Nevada from President Bush's faith-based initiative program.

The defendants are scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 7.

Calls to the church and to Jones' home seeking comment were not returned Tuesday or this morning.

Cecil Davis, who is no relation to the minister and his wife, was hired along with Victoria Coleman to work at the program the grant was to support. When the two didn't get paid, they approached the Justice Department, Cecil Davis said this morning.

"That was the beginning of the end of this corrupt regime," he said.

He said this morning that was supposed to be paid about $11,000, which he never received.

When the Sun reported in September 2002 on the flap over the lack of payment Willie Davis said the two were disgruntled former employees.

But federal investigators launched an investigation and froze the group's funds in June 2003.

The indictment alleges that Jones and the Davises, who filed for personal bankruptcy in 2002, drew pay for work they did not do and paid themselves fees and raises the grant did not allow.

Additionally the indictment alleges that the three gave false documents to investigators such as time sheets for work not done and minutes for board minutes that didn't occur. It alleges Emma Davis used a Social Security number that was not hers in the organization's bank account and in applying for a $90,000 loan from the Community Bank of Nevada.

Money connected to Reid



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