RICHMOND, Texas (CN) - The widow of a man who claimed to be the Second Coming of the Christian Messiah - and made quite a bit of money from it - deprived her husband's children of their inheritance, took over his church and declared herself the "Archangel Michael," the children claim in court.
Jose Luis de Jesus Jr. and his sisters Sandra and Jennifer sued Lisbet de Garcia de Jesus and JH Enterprises on Feb. 9 in Fort Bend County Court.
The plaintiffs are three of the five children of the late Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, from his previous wife.
Miranda was "the founder and leader of an ostensibly religious organization known as Creciendo en Gracia," (Growing in Grace), his children say in the complaint.
"Miranda, who professed to be the second coming of the Christian Messiah, is the source of Creciendo en Gracia's teachings, beliefs and imagery," his kids say. They say that to operate his church he incorporated Telegracia Studios of Houston as a for-profit business in June 2009. Miranda operated a website and a TV channel through Telegracia, the complaint states.
Miranda and Telegracia made a lot of money from contributions for years, his children say. When he died, "Telegracia was generating no less than $85,000 (to) $100,000 per month in revenue," and he had followers throughout North America, Latin America and Europe, according to the complaint.
Miranda died intestate in November 2013. The children claim that therefore they are the "proper beneficiaries" of half his estate.
They claim that Lisbet Garcia de Jesus gutted Telegracia and transferred its property into a new company, JH Enterprises, to keep them from sharing in the church's profits.
Lisbet became an officer in Telegracia "sometime in 2012 or 2013, and continued operating it after her husband died, the kids say. After Miranda died, she offered his five children from the previous marriage settlements ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 in exchange for their interests in Miranda's estate, and misrepresented the church's earnings when she did so, the children say in the lawsuit.
Two kids took her up on it; the plaintiffs did not.
News outlets sometimes labeled Miranda a cult leader.
The Huffington Post posted a 2012 video that claimed to show one of Miranda's followers having "666" tattooed onto her 3-year-old son. Miranda allegedly adopted those numbers as a symbol of his church after declaring himself the antichrist. When he died, his followers declared him immortal and renamed him Melquisedec.
Many of his followers deny that he is dead, but believe he is immortal, according to publicly available information.
Be that as it may, his three children claim that Lisbet set up a new website and directed the church's followers to contribute to JH Enterprises rather than Telegracia.
They say in the lawsuit that Lisbet began to "insinuate herself into the mythology of Creciendo en Gracia, labeling herself the 'Archangel Michael' and appending her name and likeness to her late husband's: the church's new website declares 'the name of God is MelquisedecLisbet.'"
In fact, the children say, "Telegracia is nothing more than an empty shell, having been gutted of its assets, intellectual property and revenue streams by Lisbet and JH."
They seek 50 percent of Miranda's estate and punitive damages for tortious interference. They are represented by Jorge Borunda, of Houston.
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