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Mega-church refuses to return nicked cash

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.

Bernard Blauwkamp, left, is senior associate pastor i n charge of the church's finances, and his son Andrew is an associate pastor

Bernard Blauwkamp, left, is senior associate pastor in charge of the church’s finances, and his son Andrew is an associate pastor

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.

17 responses to “Mega-church refuses to return nicked cash”

  1. Broga says:

    “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.”

    More religious verbiage with “prayerfully considered.” I wonder how they do this? Then the “must respectfully decline.” Not that they have decided but that they “must”. Why? They curdle the stomach with their sanctimonious self serving twaddle.

  2. TrickyDicky says:

    Didn’t the Serbian She Devil get a very large donation from another ponzi scheme organiser and refuse to return it.

    She did write to the prosecutor requesting clemency for the crook as he had been so generous to the church.

  3. Stuart H. says:

    If they were looking for assets to flog to recover the debt, some church fixtures and fittings would do the job. I’ll bet there’s a few luxury items (PA or film system, fancy lighting..) that would easily cover the bill. It’s not as if such tat is a necessity for an act of worship.

    Incidentally, pleading no knowledge of source of funds isn’t a defence. FATCA, Patriot Act and a string of other legislation the US imposed on every other country’s finance sectors to chase its own bad guys allow US authorities to step in, anywhere in the world, on any suspicious transaction in US dollars. About time they followed this stuff up in their own backyard with their own party donors.

  4. barriejohn says:

    TrickyDicky: She even accepted donations from “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Maybe she thought he was a medical expert!

    Mother Teresa herself personally took large donations from the psychopathic Haitian dictator “Baby Doc,” publicly defending his blood-soaked rule in return. In the 1990s, fraudster Charles Keating donated $1.25 million of stolen money to the Missionaries. When asked to return the fraudulent money, Mother Teresa simply stayed silent.

    http://knowledgenuts.com/2013/09/27/mother-teresa-was-a-crook-and-a-fraud/

  5. Broga says:

    I think the Vatican in its lust to use any ploy to extract cash and respect is intending to make Teresa the Grim into a saint. All it takes is a couple of fake miracles, a mass of bullshit and bollocks by Papa, and its job done.

    Christopher Hitchens sank plague ship Teresa beyond the Vatican’s ability to re float her. We can expect the BBC to provide lots of licence fee funded propaganda when the ceremonies begin.

  6. Cali Ron says:

    It’s a mega church, but they claim “It’s not like we have a pile (of money) to be distributed.” If they don’t have a pile of money they are doing something wrong because most mega churches rake in the cash. Curious to know what kind of cars they drive and their property holdings. I always thought receiving stolen property was a crime. I guess god “laundered” it for them and now it’s holy money, sanctified and untouchable until the reverend needs a vacation home.

  7. Broga says:

    @Cali Ron: Being a pastor in a mega church in the USA must be one of the all time great confidence tricks. Truck loads of dollars rolling in from the gullible as these hucksters tell the suckers about Jesus and “Blessed are the poor.”

    The RCs had a great scam going in the past when the Pope sold indulgences to the wealthy and the priests sold cheaper indulgences to the poor. Martin Luther decided the scam had gone too far when the Pope was selling indulgences for future sins whatever they were e.g. rape or murder. Marty had to flee for his life when Papa wanted revenge.

    Ah religion. What bliss beckons those priests and pastors who prey on the gullible and rob them blind and without pity.

  8. barriejohn says:

    Resurrection Life Church has several campuses. Here’s one (“freaking awesome” according to the poster):

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dcs5v0g0Bts/TqKZ6L7_XLI/AAAAAAAABBg/Dm-8rE_cugU/s1600/Resurrection%2BLIfe%2BChurch%2B-%2BWyoming%2BMI.JPG

    I dread to enquire whether jet aircraft feature amongst their assets!

  9. Stuart H. says:

    Broga – I think the RC church still sells indulgences. I know two business figures with papal knighthoods, and also know enough of their staff to know they effectively bought them, then claimed the money back against tax as a charitable donation. In one case he got it back at least twice – employed his own construction company to build a church. Asking prices start around six figures, in case anyone wanted to know.

  10. Cali Ron says:

    @barriejohn:
    The true status symbol of mega church pastors is the private airplane. The most successful con artist pastors, of course, don’t just have a plane-they have a Lear jet. God rewards those that reward (sounds better than steal for) themselves.

  11. Caute says:

    All religions are the same …. money making scams …you saps keep the faith and we’ll stash the cash ….

    Only one answer…remove the tax benefits and then go one step further ..tax the godly hucksters until it hurts…

  12. AgentCormac says:

    @ Stuart H & Caute

    Surely you can’t be saying that the rcc makes money out of people by fleecing them for meaningless Indulgences, pointless titles and worthless holy trinkets?! Are you mad? They simply want to, you know… cover their costs.
    http://www.directfromlourdes.com/

    BTW, Broga – ‘prayerfully’. Now there’s an adverb you don’t hear every day. Unless you live in the US, I guess.

  13. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: I had a fun time going through that Lourdes link. What need is there of comedy on TV when you can read this. In a hotly competitive field my winner is:

    “EVERY bottle contains fresh Lourdes water from the Grotto.”

    Capitals on the every so the Lourdes pestilences are guaranteed to be spread. However, I did think you were a touch severe as they do offer free prayers. I wondered about a prayer for the end of the Lourdes con trick.

  14. Cali Ron says:

    What does “prayerfully” even mean? Makes as much sense as the religion-none. Although it does, obviously make CENTS!

  15. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    If I buy a stolen car (or any other stolen item) the fact that I bought it in good faith has no bearing on ownership, it’s not and never will be mine. It belongs to the person it was stolen from.

    The same applies here. The money was stolen. It doesn’t and never will belong to the church. They must return it or face charges of handling stolen goods.

  16. Robster says:

    When the Mega Church (yuk) loses its case, they can fix the problem with a hit to the followers of say ten bucks each, the materially advantaged congregation could obviously afford this easily and sort out the problem by doing the right thing. Hang on, that would involve the church behaving in a civil and civilised manner, history reveals that’s not going to happen.

  17. Marky Mark says:

    (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.)

    So! …return the friggen money it is not yours. But that would include doing the right thing over financial greed, not something any church is willing to do.