Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Canadian Evangelical Pastor arrested for $1 Million fraud

The only reason we put this on here is because Muslims frequently donate to Christian run charities.

An evangelical pastor whose ex-followers say he fleeced them of hundreds of thousands of dollars was arrested yesterday in connection with a nearly $1-million fraud case at a zoo.

Provincial police arrested Mwinda Lezoka, 47, along with two alleged associates, Ruth Eugène, 38, and Jasmin St. Louis, 43.

All three face fraud charges in connection with $978,000 allegedly diverted from Parc Safari in Hemmingford from 2005 to 2008.

Lezoka and Eugène are also accused of forgery.

Eugène, the zoo's former accountant, was a member of Lezoka's congregation, the Bethel Christian Community in Ahuntsic, at the time.

Police charge the trio made 37 illegal electronic transfers from Parc Safari's account to outside recipients, including Actions Béthel du Canada Inc.

The Sûreté du Québec said it opened an investigation into the case in July 2009. Fifteen investigators worked on the probe, it said.

Lezoka also faces a string of lawsuits for unpaid bills, bounced cheques and bad debts.

Last July, a group of former followers passed out pamphlets in front of the church at 211 Henri Bourassa Blvd. E. alleging that Lezoka had talked them into loaning him cash - $142,000 in one case - and never paid them back. They said some members of the multiethnic congregation mortgaged their homes or borrowed on highinterest credit cards to meet Lezoka's requests for money.

In 2008, Parc Safari sued Lezoka and the church for $843,734, claiming that Eugène embezzled $734,734 over three years on behalf of Actions Bethel du Canada Inc., a charity based at the church. Court documents in the ongoing case allege that Eugène falsified zoo president Jean-Pierre Ranger's signature on financial documents and invested part of the zoo's money in a mortgage on Lezoka's home in Lorraine. When the zoo confronted the church about the missing funds, Lezoka promised to settle up but his cheques bounced, the suit alleges.

Other lawsuits against Lezoka concern unpaid bills for bodywork on his car and landscaping on his former home in Lorraine.

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