New Orleans Pastor Pleaded Guilty To Money Laundering, Admitted to Swindling His Church Of Almost $900K
Everyone who has attended service in a Baptist church has heard the minister encourage members to be diligent in paying their tithes and offerings to the kingdom.
However, many pastors have fallen out of position for the love of money.
Reverend Dr. Charles Southall III, Executive Pastor of First Emanuel Baptist Church in New Orleans since 1989, pleaded guilty on Tuesday before United States District Judge Jay Zainey to money laundering and admitted to defrauding donors of almost $900,000 intended for the church.
According to the Department of Justice, the proceeds were “unlawfully obtained from a wire fraud scheme.”
“As Executive Pastor, SOUTHALL led and counseled the FEBC congregation, participated in the administration and operation of charitable organizations affiliated with FEBC, including its housing ministries, and solicited donations purportedly for specific repair, developmental, and charitable projects and tithes in support of FEBC and its mission,” the DOJ said. “SOUTHALL received a salary in accordance with the terms of his employment contract, as well as monetary gifts from the FEBC congregation throughout the year.”
Southall allegedly defrauded FEBC’s members in more ways than one, soliciting tithes and donations and improperly using money intended to benefit the church for his own personal expenses such as purchasing vehicles, tickets, and opening an individual investment account for himself.
Insider reported that Southall spoke about the court’s decision during a prayer session he held on Facebook live Tuesday.
“It was not money laundering at all,” he said. “It was something that went against the banking laws, that I plead to. Because they say it was illegal for me to move money from an account that I have, to an account that I have. That’s what I plead to.”
Listeners on the prayer line heard Southall accept responsibility for his actions as he repented of his wrongdoings.
“According to the law, I have made some missteps, and for that I am remorseful and very concerned. But I accepted the responsibility… that it was wrong. I did not think it was. But it went against federal banking laws,” he continued.
Reportedly, the pastor is facing a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, in addition to a fine of up to $250,000. Southall must also pay back the stolen sums to the church and victims.