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Ohio megachurch ‘stalked’ elderly dementia patient — then swindled her out of $340,000: lawsuit

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A new lawsuit is accusing a megachurch in Ohio of swindling an elderly woman who is suffering from dementia out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

CBS Chicago reports that Grace Cathedral, a megachurch based in Akron, Ohio, is being sued for allegedly coercing 76-year-old Illinois resident Bridget Pollard into sending them a $340,000 check by telling her that she would be get to spend eternity in paradise if she sent them money.

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The lawsuit against the church is being brought by the Cook County Public Guardian, which has been tasked with caring for Pollard and which is trying to recoup her money.

“She was basically stalked by church to give money,” Dawn Lawkowski-Keller of the Public Guardian’s Office explained to CBS Chicago. “The literature talks about how you’ll go to heaven if you give this money.”

Pollard, who lives in a nursing home on the North Side of Chicago, has been diagnosed by doctors with bipolar disorder and dementia, who also say that she lacks the capacity to make financially sound decisions.

Pollard’s niece, Bridget Johnson, tells CBS Chicago that she’s appalled that anyone could take advantage of an elderly woman with a mental illness this way.

“I’m very sad for my aunt, that she spent all these years she thought she had a good friend, and a church she believed in, and this was all done in the name of God,” she said.

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Cleveland.com reports that Grace Cathedral was also sued last month for $3 million for a defaulted loan that was taken out by the church’s broadcasting network.

Specifically, the suit alleges that Grace Cathedral Pentecostal evangelist Ernest Angley promised the Beck Energy Corporation that his church would personally repay them if the church’s WBN network was unable to repay a $3.6 million made in 2013. Despite Angley’s assurances, however, the company never received any payments from Grace Cathedral even after WBN defaulted on the loan.

Watch CBS Chicago’s report on the lawsuit below.

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