An executive pastor has plead guilty to using church funds to pay off his massive gambling debt.
Gregory Neal of Rochester recently pleaded guilty to stealing $130,000 from his church, which he then used to pay off his widespread gambling debts. As the executive pastor, Neal had control over the church’s finances and made unauthorized withdrawals from the Journey Baptist Church’s debit and credit cards between January 2017 and March 2020.
The U.S. Secret Service led the investigation, and the case is currently being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Gingrande. The charging statute provides a sentence not exceeding 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a maximum fine not surpassing $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, and restitution.
Sadly, Neal isn’t the only one who thought it was a good idea to use church funds as a personal piggy bank. Earlier this month, a former church secretary from Alabama was sentenced to almost two years in prison for stealing over $89,000 from a church to use for personal expenses and gambling at casinos. And in May 2022, Chanell Easton of Oklahoma City was indicted on wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges for stealing over $360,000 from her church in California.
It’s almost as if these individuals forgot the commandment “Thou shalt not steal” and replaced it with “Thou shalt not get caught.” But hey, at least they had a good time at the craps table, right?