Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Colorado Springs fraud case

The Colorado Gazette reports Grace raid affidavit details claims that Armstrong misused church funds:

The Rev. Donald Armstrong funneled money earmarked for “single, unmarried seminarians” from a Grace Church trust fund to pay for his two children’s college tuition, according to Colorado Springs police investigators.

That accusation was contained in a affidavit supporting a search warrant used by police in a November raid on Grace Church and St. Stephen’s and its offices in a next door Victorian home known as the McWilliams House at 601 N. Tejon St.

The affidavit, returned by detective Michael Flynn to the court Tuesday, outlines the 18-month police investigation from May 2007 - when they were notified by the Episcopal Church, Diocese of Colorado that it suspected financial wrongdoing by Armstrong - and Nov. 25, when a judge signed the warrant authorizing the search…

Once again, there is an exhaustive set of links to earlier reports on this story already available at Episcopal Café.

The previous TA article on this case can be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 January 2009 at 10:34pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA
Comments

This looks like a fine opportunity for +Minns and +Akinola to appear as ¨character¨ witnesses for Fr. Armstrong during the upcoming trial. Afterall, both knew the pending difficulties and outright PROBLEMS at Grace and St. Stephens for Armstrong+ but proceeded to support and welcome his ongling ministry by making him a priest of CANA/Anglican Church of Nigeria.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 3:35am GMT

I am sure there is a way to spin tax fraud as doing the Lord's Work.

Posted by: Grumpy High Church Woman on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 9:13am GMT

The part of this story that makes this case interesting to the civil authority is not the betrayal of the donor's intent, a moral issue, but the diversion of the funds to his personal use. In this instance, my experience is that, from the IRS' perspective, the funds would be construed as "compensation" to him. The scholarship restrictions were to a class of people broad enough to permit such. If his children were eligible members of this class, (and apparently neither were), their "receipt" of the funds would have required an arm's length transaction from Armstrong+.

I believe that Armstrong's accountant was told (presumably by Armstrong), that the scholarship was non taxable. On whether the action constituted embezzlement or theft whatever, remains to be seen, but from a tax perspective, (failure to report income at a minimum), it appears to me Armstrong+ is in for a rough ride.

It is also important to remember that this is the one and the same Armstrong who was raising and administering funds for the ACI (Radner, Seitz and Turner), who could not separate themselves fast enough from him when the allegations of real financial mismanagement began to appear.

I post this summary of some of the "facts" of this case because specific areas of not-for-profit law in the US (501c3 organizations) are applicable that may or may not have direct parallels in Great Britain

Posted by: EmilyH on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 1:40pm GMT

Looks like they've got an open and shut case. In Virginia, there's a thing called an Alford Plea. If you enter an Alford Plea you do not admit guilt, but affirm that the evidence tends overwhelmingly that way. Then you take the sentence the judge hands down.

If there is such a thing in CO, it looks like this absconding common thief ought to take it.

The woman who embezzled large sums from TEC spent instructive time in the same facility in WVA that Martha Stewart graced, but for considerably longer.

I'd like to see him in the slammer. He and his pals are so fond of quoting OT slam verses against gays - I've got one for Armstrong: "Thou shalt not steal."

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 2:16pm GMT

Cynthia, there is indeed an Alford plea in Colorado. It may be a nationwide form of plea.
Colorado Springs is 70 miles south of me. Grace and St. Stephens have been in the news often here. They're one of many congegations who feel the TEC Diocese of Colorado isn't conservative, or observant, or orthodox, enough for them. Some of those folks seceded in the 1980s over women or the 1978 BCP. The alleged criminal activities (tax or embezzlement) were enough to cause the Bishop of Colorado to want to remove the Rev. Armstrong from his position. Rather than be removed, +Armstrong and the majority of his parishioners bolted. So the +Armstrong supporters say +Armstrong did nothing whatsoever illegal with the money, it was his to disburse as he saw fit. The Diocese, obviously begs to differ.

Posted by: peterpi on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 6:21pm GMT

actual affidavit is here:

http://www3.gazette.com/documents/grace.pdf

Posted by: Tim Stewart on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 6:25pm GMT

"So the +Armstrong supporters say +Armstrong did nothing whatsoever illegal with the money, it was his to disburse as he saw fit. The Diocese, obviously begs to differ."

As will the court, I trust ... not to mention the IRS. One thinks of reaping and sowing.

Thanks for the information about the Alford and for the link.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 7:22pm GMT

Thank you for summing things up so succinctly in your last sentence, Cynthia.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 8:48pm GMT

The terribly interesting back story to this is the deafening silence on this from the conservative blogs I follow - at least to this point. Since this is now becoming old news here I wonder whether the conservative blogs intend to either A) ignore or B) bury this embarrassing news about one who was originally one of their stalwarts. Time will tell and inquiring minds will observe. Even Hitler could manage the news only up to a breaking point. Then again trying to peddle slanted news taints their entire message.

Posted by: ettu on Friday, 9 January 2009 at 12:21pm GMT

Ettu:
Just a thought. Perhaps "conservatives" will let the legal process play out before judging the pastor guilty of a crime. I would not bet money either way but it makes one wonder at the witness of those hoping that Armstrong is found to have done something illegal. Overflowing with the milk of human kindness is not how I would describe those blogging here.

Posted by: DaveG on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 2:48pm GMT

"Just a thought. Perhaps "conservatives" will let the legal process play out before judging the pastor guilty of a crime."

I'm sure they will. They have no problem doing that for one of their own. It's only the hateful, evil, Hell bound Liberals who are guilty on accusation. It's even likely, if past behavior is anything to go on, that even should he be found guilty, there will still be conservatives who believe he is being persecuted for being conservative.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 8:01pm GMT

Ford
If we each own responsibility for our tendencies to judge others, perhaps we might all get along just a bit better. If there is a situation where a "hateful, evil, Hell bound Liberal" was prejudged by Conservatives to be guilty of a crime even before charges had been filed (much less an indictment, trial and conviction), I certainly would agree with you. An example?

Posted by: DaveG on Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 6:48pm GMT

DaveG, all "evil Hell bound liberals" are judged, and found wanting, by conservatives. Look at the statements coming out of GAFCON. And we are all guilty: of subverting the Gospel, of abandoning the faith for the approval of the world, of apostacy, of bribery, and on and on. Sure, there's examples of that kind of thing on the liberal side at times, I'm have been guilty of it myself, and that's a battle yet to be won for me. But I don't think you'll find, other than from those on the fringe like the kinds of comments made by Spong at Lambeth '98, any "liberal" bishop hurling the kinds of anathemas at conservatives that we see regularly from them. In fact, it's that kind of behaviour from those in power among the conservatives that, for me, argues most strongly that they are wrong.

Posted by: Ford ELms on Saturday, 17 January 2009 at 12:50am GMT

Ford
You are mixing apples and oranges. It is entirely a different thing to disagree theologically and even to think that as a result of your/my behaviour or belief, God is angry and will judge the other harshly than it is to accuse someone of a crime. Hurling anathemas are not the same thing as hurling accusations of criminality.

Posted by: DaveG on Saturday, 17 January 2009 at 9:41pm GMT
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