A New York City pastor is being charged with stealing money that was allocated to go to help HIV-positive drug addicts to use for Caribbean vacations and gifts for himself.
According to the New York Daily News, Bronx Pastor Reginald Williams, of the Charity Baptist Church of Christ, scammed nonprofit groups out of more than $631,000. Two others, Bennie Hadnott and Naomi Barrera, helped Williams and were charged with grand larceny in the Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday.
Hadnott scored $40,000 from a contract with his Tondah Consulting Group and he managed to get $54,000 in kickbacks on top of it.
“Williams allegedly used the money to pay off his American Express bill and write cashier’s checks to himself and his wife,” NYDN reported.
Two taxpayer-funded nonprofits were completely plundered, according to prosecutors. Barrera is accused of using proceeds from a real estate sale. Barrera scored $30,000 and Williams pocketed $135,000.
“Prosecutors said Williams also had a lucrative expense reimbursement hustle,” wrote the NYDN. “They said he expensed $100,000 spent on trips to the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and treated himself to $170,000 worth of dinners and bar tabs. He allegedly double-dipped his reimbursements by submitting the same receipts to both ARC affiliates.”
The men “shamelessly stole from publicly funded organizations dedicated to helping vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. “Even while their organizations struggled financially – failing to meet contractual obligations and even furloughing employees without pay – these defendants continued to drain the coffers for their personal gain.”
Williams’ attorney disputes the account, saying that he raised over $14 million for the foundation. Because he raised the money, “he was entitled to” it, said attorney Paul Martin. “The board made the decision to pay my client, to pay him for the years in which he got no salary.”