Mega-church refuses to return nicked cash
David McQueen, above – mastermind of a $46 million Ponzi scheme – was fond of saying he was ‘blessed to be a blessing’ … and before he was caught and jailed he handed over an estimated $300,000 to The Resurrection Life Church in Grandville, Michigan.
The authorities now want the dosh back, but the church is is refusing to play ball.
According to this report, the Rev Bernard Blauwkamp, secretary of the church’s Board of Elders, said in a letter to assistant US Attorney Matthew Borgula:
Resurrection Life Church had no knowledge of the source of the funds, nor was it in any way complicit with this donor.
The letter said elders:
Have read and considered the detailed information … regarding the tithe monies and gifts given to the church by Mr David McQueen. We were saddened to hear the news of his wrongdoing, and pray that God will work in his heart and life and bring repentance.
We have prayerfully considered your request that the Church return all or part of this donor’s gifts and tithe monies, and must respectfully decline to do so.
In this report Blauwkamp was quoted as saying:
The funds were received over a period of time spanning multiple years, and no single donation was extraordinary in size.
Our Church is blessed to have a large membership, many of whom who God has blessed with material abundance. Our leadership makes it a point to not focus on the identity of its donors; such knowledge could cause favoritism and affect interpersonal relationships within the Church.
The US Attorney’s Office, the FBI and IRS are working to find assets that can be used to pay restitution. The government has already seized cash, boats, vehicles and a Florida condominium, which represent a “small fraction of the total loss”, the government said in a letter to the victims.
The federal agencies have asked third parties to voluntarily contribute to pay restitution.
The church is now playing the victim card, squealing that it is is being “made to look bad” because the contents of the letter written by elders was made available to victims of McQueen’s scheme.
Blauwkamp said inclusion of the church’s letter in the notice to victims was “grossly inappropriate” and unfairly singled out the church.
It’s unprofessional to include that letter, like we’re to blame. The guy to blame is in jail.
The “finders/keepers” church has since received several calls from victims, and is not happy.
Blauwkamp said the church, which opened its books to the FBI, had only minor disagreement with the figures provided by the government. He said that McQueen’s donations came in a three-year period, beginning in 2006, when the church was involved in a building project.
That was six years ago. You don’t have money laying around that long. We feel for the victims. It’s not like we have a pile (of money) to be distributed.
Blauwkamp said the federal government:
Painted us in a bad light, and I believe unjustly.
McQueen joined the church in 1997 but by 1999 was no longer active. Blauwkamp didn’t know him, but that’s not unusual in a megachurch.
McQueen said in a biography he was “blessed to be a blessing” – before anyone realised he was actually robbing investors. He operated perhaps the state’s largest Ponzi scheme.
Borgula has labeled him:
One of the worst kinds of financial predators. He’s so arrogant he thinks he’s infallible.
McQueen, 44, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. He is in a medium-security facility in Oxford, Wisconsin.
US Attorney Patrick Miles Jr, said in a statement:
The US Attorney’s Office must try to return assets stolen from innocent investors as restitution. We requested that various third parties voluntarily reimburse or return funds from David McQueen. We will continue our objective to keep victims apprised of our efforts.