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High-living North Carolina ‘prosperity gospel’ pastor indicted for bilking church in massive tax fraud scam

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A former Charlotte “prosperity gospel” preacher who owns a garage full of expensive foreign cars and lives in a million dollar condo was indicted on multiple counts of federal tax fraud this week, reports the Charlotte Observer.

William Todd Coontz, 50, formerly a minister at the Rock Wealth International Ministries, and now living in Florida, is accused of participating in a check-cashing scheme involving travel reimbursements for speaking appearances and for book sales – and then filing fraudulent tax returns in order to hide the money.

“This is a classic example of ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’” explained U.S. Attorney Jill Rose. “As a minister, Coontz preached about receiving and managing wealth, yet he failed to keep his own finances in order. Coontz will now receive a first-hand lesson in ‘rendering unto Caesar’ that which is due.”

Christian “prosperity gospel” preachers encourage their flock to contribute heavily to the ministry with the promise that God will return their tithing multiplied leading to great wealth.

HBO host John Oliver memorably exposed the fraudulent prosperity gospel scam in 2015, going so far as to set up his own (fake) church, called “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.”

In the case of Coontz, he promised untold wealth for his followers for the price of a $273 donation, calling it a “recovery seed.”

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“Suddenly miracles are happening. I want to work with your faith for quick things, swift things,” Coontz claimed in a video pitch.

While it is not known how many of his followers grew rich, Coontz profited mightily as his church paid for his $1.5 million condo he and his family lived in, as well as three BMWs, two Ferraris, a Maserati and a Land Rover.

According to the federal investigation, Coontz was skimming money from the church by submitting travel reimbursements for speaking appearances he never made and for book sales.

The indictment states Coontz hid income from the IRS by claiming the travel as a business expense while taking the reimbursements as personal income.

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Coontz is accused of making his travel assistant request the ministry make the church reimbursement checks payable to “Todd Coontz” and to send the checks to his personal address. Coontz then cashed the checks.

Coontz also billed the churches where he made appearances for a full fare first-class ticket while purchasing tickets for “substantially less.”

The indictment states Coontz is accused of concealing and cashing 102 checks from 2010 through 2013 for approximately $252,000. In 2014, he cashed 32 checks totaling about $105,500 that were also hidden in church accounting.

(H/T Friendly Atheist)

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‘Dangerous linguistic power’: A historian explains how Trump weaponizes nicknames

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Is Donald Trump the modern day Earl Long?

A three-time Louisiana governor, Long mastered the art of political ridicule seven decades ago by weaponizing nicknames. The hilarious names Long pinned on his rivals, and the rollicking stories he told about them, riveted audiences bored by puffed-up rhetoric.

While Long’s stunts may be remembered as silly hijinks, there was a sly, often deadly serious, purpose to his technique. He used it to get voters to laugh at his foes and to put them on the defensive––a place politicians never want to be. Tucked within Long’s jests were razor-sharp attacks aimed at exploiting opposition weaknesses––hidden swords inside a pea-patch cloak.

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Walmart got a $2.2 billion tax cut — now it’s laying off workers

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Walmart announced it will lay off hundreds of workers in North Carolina despite receiving billions in tax cuts that the Republican Party and President Trump claimed would spur job growth.

The giant retailer will lay off about 570 employees and close its corporate office near the Charlotte airport, despite signing a 12-year lease just four years earlier, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

The work done at the Charlotte facility will be outsourced to a firm in Arkansas, according to the report.

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Melania Trump ripped for bragging about helping children while her husband runs concentration camps for kids

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Melania Trump was ripped on Monday for pushing her signature "Be Best" campaign against bullying while her husband, President Donald Trump, runs concentration camps for children along the southern border.

"Looking forward to collaborating with all of our #BeBest Ambassadors. Delighted to be working alongside so many people both inside and outside of government to better the lives of children everywhere!" Melania Trump tweeted Monday.

The response was some of the harshest since she wore an "I Don't Care" jacked to visit the border.

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 ENOUGH IS ENOUGH 

Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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