Thinking Anglicans

Judgment in Colorado Springs

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports Armstrong sentenced to probation, $99,247 restitution.

A judge Friday sentenced the Rev. Donald Armstrong to four years probation for his no-contest plea to one count of misdemeanor theft of funds from the Colorado Springs church where he once served as rector.

Fourth Judicial District Judge Gregory R. Werner also ordered Armstrong to pay restitution in the amount of $99,247 that was diverted to pay for his son’s and daughter’s college education. The money came from a trust fund originally set up to pay for the education of seminary students…

And the Colorado Springs Independent has Armstrong avoids jail time, must pay $99,247 in restitution.

The Rev. Don Armstrong won’t have to serve any jail time for misusing funds while he was rector of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

That ruling came Friday afternoon from 4th Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner, who upheld an earlier plea agreement that gives Armstrong two concurrent four-year probation terms for no-contest pleas involving his stewardship of a Grace scholarship fund called the Bowton Trust.

Werner did order Armstrong to pay $99,247 in restitution to Grace for money that went from the Bowton Trust to pay for his children’s college-related expenses. Werner singled out those funds because, he said, Armstrong had fiduciary responsibility over the trust as Grace’s rector.

The judge also ordered that, during his probation, Armstrong will have to do 400 hours of community service outside his current church, St. George’s Anglican Church. The 61-year-old rector also must disclose all of his current finances and is prohibited from managing the finances of any church or group in a fiduciary role…

An earlier and very long article in the Independent Judgment day for the Rev. Armstrong reviewed the whole background to this case in considerable detail. Worth reading. It also reports that:

The 61-year-old is as comfortable as ever in pushing his conservative theology from the pulpit, as in his sermon Feb. 6 when Armstrong chastised the daughters of George W. Bush and John McCain for “speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage,” adding, “how quickly we should see it as human-centered thinking, not God’s teaching.”

Armstrong remains a priest in good standing in CANA, under Bishop Martyn Minns, which is part of either ACNA, or part of CoN (Anglican Communion) or possibly both.

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Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

Curious indication of CANA’s approach to sin that Armstrong is still a priest in good standing, while Marshall Brown, for ten years a priest at Truro Church, Virginia, was fired in January for viewing pornography on a church computer. http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/302405

Ian Montgomery
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Ian Montgomery

Mr. Armstrong was prosecuted for something that goes on frequently in many parishes – scholarships for clergy children. I was a rector in the US for over 30 years so saw similar situations. I have not heard of others being so prosecuted. This was IMHO a politically motivated prosecution. Whether one is on one side or other of the Church dispute that is at the heart of this situation Mr. Armstrong’s situation was a result of some kind of earlier “agreement.” The parties fell out! This does NOT in any way justify the practice of scholarships to clergy children as… Read more »

ettu
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ettu

One does wonder about the seminarians who did NOT get the funding that would have gone to them if this incident had not occurred……

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

One of the reason’s that Fr Armstrong was prosecuted Ian, was that a substantial proportion of the money for the scholarships for his kids was paid from a private endowment, the Bowton Trust. which is earmarked specifically and solely for the education for the priesthood of needy, male, ordinands. I believe I am correct in saying that none of the income generated by the endowment was used for its intended purpose during his incumbency. Are you telling us that this is “something that goes on frequently in many parishes”?

JPM
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JPM

Monsieur Lapin, we all know that the fundamentalist, oops, orthodox approach to sin is that it must somehow have something to do with sex to really count as sin.

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

Judgement in Colorado Springs! Sounds like a good old western.

No cavalry to the rescue, but the Anglican Church in Nigeria!

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

No penitence from Armstrong or Ian Montgomery (above) it would appear.

I am appalled.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

One does wonder about the seminarians who did NOT get the funding that would have gone to them if this incident had not occurred……

Posted by: ettu on Saturday, 26 February 2011 at 1:56pm GMT

oh forget them ! — Armstrong and CANA have

scott
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scott

Ian said: “something that goes on frequently in many parishes – scholarships for clergy children.” I hope the practice in this particular parish is not common – as the purpose in paying for his children’s education was to pad the Rev. Mr Armstrong’s salary while skirting the IRS. I would hope very few parish’s would engage in this type of corruption. Most diocese require at least some basic form of audit for parishes – which should catch this type of illegal activity. Tax evasion is, ultimately, the only crime of which Al Capone was ever convicted – that is the… Read more »

ettu
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ettu

“Mr. Armstrong was prosecuted for something that goes on frequently in many parishes” Perhaps this is so although I have never seen it done and I have a certain degree of insight into at least the USA side of this – is it OK in different countries? In any event I would reiterate that this was not a victimless crime that was just a “wink and a nod” arrangement between the vestry and the rector.- rather it actually did take support away from those for whom it had been intended – seminarians – and for that reason it’s degree of… Read more »

Steve Lusk
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Steve Lusk

We’ve met the ACNA/Nigeria dodge before:
Algernon. By the way, did you tell Gwendolen the truth about your being Ernest in town, and Jack in the country?
Jack. [In a very patronising manner.] My dear fellow, the truth isn’t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl. What extraordinary ideas you have about the way to behave to a woman!

Roger
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Roger

Ian,

Mr. Armstrong was not prosecuted for something that goes on frequently in many parishes – scholarships for clergy children.

He was prosecuted for plundering a scholarship fund for seminarians, to pay for his children’s education instead.

His children were not seminarians, either.

Mr. Armstrong is a thief, and got off quite remarkably lightly for his theft.

Ian Montgomery
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Ian Montgomery

Mr. L Roberts writes: “No penitence from Armstrong or Ian Montgomery (above) it would appear. I am appalled.” I think you have misread my comment. I believe that the Judge made a correct sentence. More so I wish that the practice (under the counter benefits) stop wherever it is found. This is tax evasion. It should have been caught by an audit. I have found that the requirements to audit are less than scrupulously observed in too many parishes. I had a treasurer resign once rather than face the audit that I insisted upon when arriving at a new congregation.… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

I feel deeply sorry for Mr Armstrong.

I also feel deeply for both church groups

Strong leadership is often a double edged sword, they all deserve our prayers.

EmilyH
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EmilyH

On the facts. The Bowton scholarships were available to all male Coloradans studying for the Episcopal priesthood. In the US to satisfy conditions for a tax exempt benefit, the scolarship must be open to a class of people and any recipient must have had no part in the decision regarding receipt. In Armstrong’s case,he was the prime beneficiary, was a major decision maker, and neither of his children were elligible. He is going to have major problems with the IRS. On how the misuse was identified…a banker trustee started asking questions. Interesting, in documents I read eary on, Armstrong wanted… Read more »

odd
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odd

Amazing isn’t it — out of all the detailed accountings in this Co Sprgs affair, ACI is mentioned not once. Was that because the police, prosecutors, Diocese just didn’t look hard enough?

EmilyH
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EmilyH

On the ACI and the police. To be fair, yes the police did look. There was confusion The Anglican Institute (AI) was receiving some funding with, I believe the permission of the Bishop and was providing an educational lecture series and conferences, at least two. Somehow that morphed into the Anglican Communion Institute. Precisely how and when, and what accounts were used to fund it I, and I expect the district attorney, do not know. Its members, Seitz, Turner and Radner denied that they received any compensation for their work, but, as I recall Armstrong was stating that, in one… Read more »

odd
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odd

ACI doesn’t amount to anything ‘3 guys with computers’; yet it has a prestigious board and so must have had expenses. Don Armstrong ‘bankrolled it.’ ‘I and the District Attorney’ don’t know all the details.

You make it sound like you work for/alongside the District Attorney, know what or what was not asked by the numerous investigators in this affair. They did their very thorough work and the fact is: in not one detail was ACI named, either as beneficiary or as culpable.

Might as well keep this on topic.

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

EmilyH has kept close, well-informed tabs on the Armstrong case for several years now, odd. Doubt if any poster on this topic, here or elsewhere, is better informed than she. Nice of you to try to spin this to ACI’s advantage, but ACI’s relationship to Armstrong is very much on-topic. A “Caesar’s wife” thing, as I have said before. As Emily indicates, there was some pretty fast foot-work (squid ink in its wake) on the part of ACI’s members when the Armstrong business came unstuck.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Man (Mr.Armstrong) cannot serve two masters”. Is it to be ‘Mammon’ or God ?

seitz
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seitz

The FBI interviewed the leadership of ACI, extensively, now probably three years ago. They were satisfied and we were never approached again. ACI was not even mentioned in any of the detailed accounts.

I suppose we are to believe the innuendos of Emily and Rabbit are probative, but not the FBI.

The leadership of ACI from this period was unpaid and drew no stipends of any kind. No money came inappropriately to it. The FBI determined this as well.

This case is closed. It never involved ACI.

EmilyH
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EmilyH

Actually, in my memory, there was a great deal of discussion of ACI, more importantly AI and how the two related. I am going back some time here. My memory is that it was in specific regard to how accounts were related and how checks were being drawn. Frankly, I got lost here although I tried to follow it as closely as I could. In no way am I suggesting that Seitz Radner or Turner had any knowledge of or complicity in Armstrong’s financial doings and hands-on knowledge of his financing of ACI. Mr. Seitz’s revelation on the FBI’s involvement… Read more »

seitz
Guest
seitz

“It has to do with the damage done to the giving community by the few bad apples who violate their trust. In the US, charities, and churches, receive a tax exempt status based on trust. When an Armstrong violates that trust, he jeopardizes both the charity’s IRS 501c3(6) etc status and the trust of the giving community.” Fine. Then focus on that. Armstrong misused a trust for his children. He accepted a Alford plea. He is on probation for 4 years and must pay the trust funds back. None of this has anything to do with ACI. ACI had no… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

Useful stuff on ACI, Grace Church & Armstrong at this 2007 post by Sarah Dylan Breuer (Breuer is now a member of TEC’s Executive council) –
http://www.sarahlaughed.net/anglicana/2007/04/when_is_an_inst.html – and at this 2008 Preludium thread – http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2008/04/anglican-communion-institute-and.html, where Dr Seitz claims a surprising ignorance of the recent history of the organization that he heads (“That Bishop Salmon was the ‘head’ of AI is news to me. I know nothing about AI”).

Where a body claims the moral high ground as forcefully and frequently as ACI does, it’s a “Caesar’s wife” matter, not a “never indicted” one.

EmilyH
Guest
EmilyH

Mr. Seitz, you allowed Mr. Armstrong to portray your organization as something much grander than it was (it was you comment about the 3 guys I think now 6) and a website) than it was. You allowed him to acquire funds in your name and, if, as you contend, you had no knowledge of his financial (and your organization’s) financial affairs, who was providing oversight? Since many on the board were overseas, was there anyone domestically providing oversight? Also, your contention that the FBI saw no concern with the AI/ACI may well be true. The activities in which Armstrong engaged… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

1. If you want to know what ACI is, who is involved, simply visit anglicancommunioninstitute.com; 2. you say Fr Armstrong made ACI out to be grander than it is/was — that is news to me; I am content with ACI’s ‘grandeur’ and its mission; I’ll let others decide if it is ‘grand’ as I suspect that has to do with party strife/predilection; 3. Grace Church provided oversight of Fr Armstrong and his check-signing/auditing; for portions of that, he has been held accountable by a court; nothing of that had anything to do with ACI; 4. it is not my contention… Read more »

EmilyH
Guest
EmilyH

Again, I state that the concern registered by the federal investigators, given their jurisdiction, may well have been proscribed. ACI’s involvement in this mess was most probably Armstrong using its account to obscure his money trail. But, until 2007, there is no evidence that ACI (an educational organization not a church) filed tax returns, disclosed financial information etc. Although it was portrayed on its website as something quite prestigious, its board did not appear to meet. Its then key members, Seitz Radner and Turner had left to Armstrong all responsibility for its funding, its board and digital image. Within just… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

I repeat, “Caesar’s wife”, Dr Seitz. The precipitate, near unchristian speed with which you deserted the ship of your former benefactor, proclaiming yourselves just “four [Or was it three? Or maybe six?] men with a website” indicates, to me at any rate, strong awareness on your part of the adage “bad company is a disease, who lies with dogs shall rise with fleas”. Re-framing and “Nancy Drew” smears do not alter the past.

The link I posted yesterday to Preludium was corrupted by the inclusion of a terminal comma. It should read http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2008/04/anglican-communion-institute-and.html

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

ACI filed no tax returns because it drew no salaries. How being prestigious entails lots of money flowing is your own perception of reality. ACI did the work it did in the period in question and did not need to be tax-exempt or not-for-profit because no income was being drawn. We all had full time jobs and did this work from conviction and as an extension of our working relationship with leaders in the Communion. We rectified nothing with the IRS as there was nothing to rectify. When I moved to TX, we returned to the not-for-profit status we had… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“Again, I state that the concern registered by the federal investigators, given their jurisdiction, may well have been proscribed.” I can assure you that the questions posed by federal prosecutors touched on every aspect of this. Nothing was proscribed in the manner you intimate. They were very thorough and very competent. I prefer their judgments to your second-guessing. “ACI’s involvement in this mess was most probably Armstrong using its account to obscure his money trail.” That is simply a lie. Armstrong was sentenced for misusing a Trust Fund. ACI was not used to shield or obscure anything. Call the Bishop… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

“….being prestigious.” The Humility.

EmilyH
Guest
EmilyH

Dr. Seitz… The requirement to file a 990 tax return has nothing to do with whether or not you were paid salaries. It has to do with the size of your revenue, your status as a church or an auxiliary organization and whether or not you claim the benefit of tax exempt status for your donors. I assert that ACI can not claim that it had nothing to do with the events involved. Armstrong was ACI. He was your executive director. He was your agent and acting as such. ACI, it’s board, was responsible for his actions. The fact that… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

I know you ‘assert’ this. You are wrong. Don Armstrong was sentenced for matters that did not involve ACI. He was not an ‘agent’ for ACI in anything he was charged with or sentenced for.

These are facts.

As the saying goes, ‘You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.’

Now I will return to my high-salary job.

grace and peace–