A former Charlotte “prosperity gospel” preacher who owns a garage full of expensive foreign cars and lives in a $1.5 million condo was indicted on multiple counts of federal tax fraud this week.
William Todd Coontz, 50, formerly a minister at the Rock Wealth International Ministries, and now living in Florida, is accused of participating in a check-cashing scheme involving travel reimbursements for speaking appearances and for book sales – and then filing fraudulent tax returns in order to hide the money, reported The Charlotte Observer.
“This is a classic example of ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’” explained U.S. Attorney Jill Rose. “As a minister, Coontz preached about receiving and managing wealth, yet he failed to keep his own finances in order. Coontz will now receive a first-hand lesson in ‘rendering unto Caesar’ that which is due.”
Christian “prosperity gospel” preachers encourage their flock to contribute heavily to “the ministry” with the promise that God will return their tithing multiplied leading to great wealth, reported Tom Boggioni of Raw Story.
Unfortunately, many times this ends up funneling large amounts of money to the corrupt preachers rather than actually giving money to those that need it, such as the homeless and those in poverty.
The Observer reported on the shady activities by the con artist “pastor”:
William Todd Coontz enjoyed a life of luxury, federal prosecutors contend, by claiming as business expenses the $1.5 million condo he and his family lived in as their parsonage and the luxury vehicles they drove, including three BMWs, two Ferraris, a Maserati and a Land Rover.
He also claimed a Regal 2500 boat, 400 charges at movie theaters, $228,000 in clothing purchases and $140,000 in meals and other entertainment as business expenses with no proof the expenses were for business, according to a federal criminal bill of indictment returned by a grand jury in Charlotte on Thursday.
He spent $21,000 at designer jewelry store David Yurman and $14,000 at Diamonds Direct jewelry store, the indictment said.
Coontz promised untold wealth for his followers for the price of a $273 donation, calling it a “recovery seed.”
“Suddenly miracles are happening. I want to work with your faith for quick things, swift things,” Coontz claimed.
According to the federal investigation, Coontz was stealing money from the church by submitting travel reimbursements for speaking appearances he never made and for book sales.
The indictment also states Coontz hid income from the IRS by claiming the travel as a business expense while taking the reimbursements as personal income.
Coontz is accused of making his travel assistant request the ministry make the church reimbursement checks payable to “Todd Coontz” and to send the checks to his personal address. Coontz then cashed the checks.
Coontz also billed the churches where he made appearances for a full fare first-class ticket while purchasing tickets for “substantially less.”
The indictment states Coontz is accused of concealing and cashing 102 checks from 2010 through 2013 for approximately $252,000. In 2014, he cashed 32 checks totaling about $105,500 that were also hidden in church accounting.
Coontz is accused of under-reporting his income on his tax returns by not including as income payments made by his corporations and ministry for his personal expenses. That included payments benefiting his family members and payments for meals and entertainment.
From 2000 to 2014, Coontz also is accused of filing delinquent U.S. income tax returns with the IRS. He “consistently failed” to make timely payments on the taxes he owed, despite receiving multiple letters and late notices from the IRS, according to the indictment.
Coontz is facing a prison term of one year and a $100,000 fine, per count. The charge of aiding and assisting in the filing of false tax returns carries a maximum prison term of 3 years and a $250,000 fine, per count.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)