Connecticut pastor charged with stealing a $1.5-m church
‘Bishop’ Franklin L Fountain, 55, above, has been charged with first-degree larceny and second-degree forgery in connection with the theft of the Fountain of Youth Cathedral in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Fountain allegedly altered the deed documents of the property at 324 Madison Ave and sold it to himself for just $1.00.
According to this report, Fountain huffed:
Isn’t this all ridiculous? I am the pastor and I deserve respect and I expect that this will all be worked out.
He could face more than 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges. His lawyer, Erroll Skyers, said he is anxiously waiting to see the police report before commenting.
Police Detective Francis Podpolucha said they had received a complaint from the church’s Board of Directors, Fountain’s younger brother James Fountain and his uncle Donald Fountain that without authorisation from the board, Bishop Fountain had altered the deed documents in order to gain possession of the property.
Fountain took over as pastor of the church, founded in 1960, from his father, Franklin D Fountain who died in 2005.
On its website the church, which is Pentecostal and is associated with the Resurrection Ministries International, touts strong youth and outreach programmes.
Meanwhile it’s reported here that polygamist religious leader Lyle Jeffs, above, has been rearrested in connection with a massive food stamp fraud.
When he vanished from house arrest almost a year ago, there were at least two theories about what happened to him. The FBI said he appeared to have used olive oil to slip free from his GPS-enabled ankle monitor and go on the lam.
His lawyer, however, suggested in court documents that the Rapture might have been responsible for his disappearance.
Jeffs was captured in South Dakota. He had been on the run for almost a year, with the FBI issuing a $50,000 reward and a bold red “WANTED” poster for him in August.
At a press conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday morning, an FBI representative said he was captured thanks to a tip. Jeffs had been living out of his car near a marina, and is now being held in a Sioux Falls jail.
Jeffs is the brother of Warren Jeffs, above, the so-called prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a fringe Mormon sect based on the border of Arizona and Utah.
The FLDS broke off from the mainstream Mormon church in 1913, largely over the question of polygamy, which the mainstream church had long disavowed.
The FBI said Lyle Jeffs was in touch with his imprisoned brother after he escaped from house arrest, but intercepted messages between the brothers also suggested Lyle had been removed from his position of bishop soon after he escaped.
Warren Jeffs is now serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child rape; he had 78 wives when he was arrested in 2006, and a third of them were under the age of 17.
A detailed 2016 profile in the Salt Lake City Tribune portrayed Lyle Jeffs as a braggart with a temper, who enforced the rules at the FLDS compound with little mercy. “Uncle Lyle” evicted possibly hundreds of the faithful, and forbade members from reading or watching secular media or consuming any news about the evidence against his brother. One parishioner told the paper that Lyle would act respectfully during private counseling sessions with church members, but would make fun of people behind their backs when the sessions were over.
As of last year, Jeffs was believed to have eight wives and about 60 children. His legal troubles do not stem from his polygamy, however, but from his role in what the FBI describes as massive food-stamp fraud.
Eleven church leaders are accused of forcing members to “donate” their food stamp benefits to the church, which then used them for its own expenses.
Prosecutors aid the scheme had cost taxpayers more than $12 million. Previously, Jeffs and a church-related company had been fined for violating child labour laws for forcing at least 175 children under age 13 to harvest pecans without pay.