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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Says Attorneys And Their Religious Client Defamed Him

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The Hon. Edwin Naythons, a retired U.S. magistrate, claims Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young and its attorney Andre Dennisdefamed him and maliciously abused civil process by filing "dozens of frivolous and abusive pleadings" after Naythons, as a private arbitrator, had found their client, Bishop Kenneth Omega Shelton, liable for "looting millions of dollars from coffers of a nonprofit church," the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith.

Naythons, retired after 35 "impeccable" years on the bench, claims defendants "employ(ed) a 'scorch-the-earth' litigation tactic with the hope of achieving an improper end-around otherwise binding and valid arbitration decisions. As part of that scorch-the-earth strategy, Defendants made a series of false and outrageous allegations about Judge Naythons, who conducted the arbitration as a private arbitrator." Naythons adds: "These blatantly false accusations were pled for the improper purpose of avoiding Judge Naython's arbitration awards, which found clear fraud, deception and theft by Dennis' client, Bishop Omega Shelton. Dennis' accusations were also pled for the improper purpose of allowing Bishop Shelton to maintain control over the church, which has a nationwide congregation, with over $100 million of assets and property, and for the improper purpose of enriching Defendants in the form of enormous counsel fees."

The underlying litigation, Anthony Patterson v. Kenneth Shelton and Eric Shelton, commenced in 1995, alleged that the Sheltons, leaders of "The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith," had "'systematically looted' the church's bank accounts and stolen millions of dollars for their own personal benefit." That litigation continued until Nov. 30, 2006, when the parties agreed to private, binding arbitration.

Naythons is represented in Federal Court by George Bochetto. See complaint.

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