A Bibb County judge has thrown out charges against a former pastor and a former banker due to a defective indictment. The two men were charged with defrauding church members out of $600,000.
The Macon Telegraph has the story.
Jimmy Collins, 42, was the pastor of God’s Worship Center in Macon. Steven Pittman, 42, was a bank officer for BB&T. Prosecutors say that the two men obtained loans and lines of credit for around 10 church members. Collins allegedly found and influenced members to assist in his church’s alcohol and drug rehabilitation program as well as the Car Vision car lot in which he was a partner. Furthermore, Collins is said to have told the church members that the church would repay the bank loans.
Authorities also believe that the two men used false financial information about the church members, provided the bank with forged documents, and misrepresented the true nature of the loans. Records indicate that the scam may have persisted for as many as six years between 2002 and 2008.
The indictment totaled 13 pages and included a violation of the RICO Act, bank fraud, residential mortgage fraud, forgery, and theft. However, Superior Court Judge Phillip Brown ruled that the indictment lacked enough specificity to allow Collins and Pittman to know what they must defend against. The District Attorney’s Office can either create a new indictment or appeal Judge Brown’s ruling.
In addition to criminal charges, members have filed lawsuits against the two men and BB&T. Since the initiation of the suits, BB&T has settled with the church members.
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