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Posted By: Long-Gone In Response To: Why is it that every time science presents new facts .... (Stimer)
Date: Saturday - January 11,2020 07:27
In Response To: Why is it that every time science presents new facts .... (Stimer)
(Chicago Tribune) The slogan once plastered outside the Rev. Clarence Smith Jr.’s storefront church on Chicago’s West Side promised to make the ”ministry meaningful to the imperfect man.”
It turns out Smith has been far from perfect himself, federal authorities allege.
Smith, who has led the New Life Impact Church [pix above] in the Lawndale neighborhood for years, has been indicted on charges alleging he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a federal program intended to feed needy children, spending the money on a $142,000 Bentley luxury vehicle and other personal expenses.
It’s not the first time that Smith, 45, has been accused of financial malfeasance. Nearly a decade ago, he pleaded guilty in DuPage County to using forged signatures to swindle an elderly man’s estate out of more than $100,000, court records show.
In the years since, Smith has struggled financially at times, public records show.
In 2012, four years before purchasing the Bentley, Smith filed for personal bankruptcy, claiming he had only $20 in cash on hand and owed more than $80,000 in restitution from his DuPage conviction, according to court records.
He has been sued by at least two food supply companies for defaulting on contracts and currently owes more than $8,000 in overdue property taxes on his one-story brick church in the 3500 block of West Cermak Road, records show.
On a recent afternoon, the building appeared to be vacant, with the faded white tarp bearing the church’s name and slogan barely legible.
Reached by telephone earlier this week, Smith referred questions to his lawyer, Timothy Roellig, who did not return multiple messages.
Smith, meanwhile, continues to actively promote the church on Facebook, posting lengthy videos of himself preaching and urging followers to come to worship. A Facebook post earlier this week appeared to refer to his legal troubles.
“One of the worst things in the world is not to learn from your prior mistakes,” he wrote Monday. “GOD has me doing a self-evaluation on where I messed up prior so I won’t do the same in the future.”
Smith remains free on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty in November to four fraud-related counts in U.S. District Court.
The charges marked the latest in a long line of Chicago-area preachers who have been accused of stealing from their congregations or social programs.
Smith’s case is startlingly similar to charges brought against Herman Jackson, a Cicero pastor convicted in 2015 of submitting false documents to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in state subsidies for day care centers. Jackson, too, was accused of using the stolen money to purchase a brand-new Bentley. He was later sentenced to five years in prison.
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