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Pastor in Mink Coat|Gets Three Years in Prison

TULSA (CN) - An Oklahoma pastor who admitted stealing $930,000 from a community center to buy himself real estate, expensive cars, a Rolex and a mink coat was sentenced three years in federal prison.

Willard Lenord Jones, 63, of Tulsa, was sentenced Monday to 37 months in federal prison. He also was ordered to pay $933,000 in restitution and $155,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Jones pleaded guilty in October to three counts of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return .

Jones was a pastor and executive director of the Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church and Greater Cornerstone Community Development Project in Tulsa.

The project built a community center in the South Haven neighborhood in West Tulsa that provides medical, dental and mental health services, family and youth counseling, food, clothing, job skills training and after-school programs.

Prosecutors said Jones stole the money from both organizations from September 2007 to June 2013, fraudulently transferring donations from community center bank accounts into church bank accounts before moving them to his personal accounts.

"Jones solicited monetary contributions from donors, including foundations, corporations, churches and individuals, to fund the development project," prosecutors said in a statement after sentencing. "As part of the scheme, Jones fraudulently transferred funds from community center bank accounts to church bank accounts and then transferred those funds into personal bank accounts. Jones admitted using the money on personal expenses and luxury items, including hotels, gambling, liquor, automobiles, and jewelry."

Jones also "lavished himself" with restaurant meals, a Rolex and a mink coat, IRS investigator R. Damon Rowe said.

Jones' real estate is in Tulsa and Osage County.

His mahogany mink coat is full length at 54 inches and features a "J J Jones" monogram, according to the plea agreement.

Church and community center representatives could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

Community center spokeswoman Rossalyn Wilson said in August that its "prayers are with Pastor Jones and family during this difficult time."

"Pastor Jones is the founder and was the major fund raiser for the Greater Cornerstone Community Development Project," Wilson said shortly after Jones' indictment. "Our goal as the administrative staff of the community center is to remain dedicated to the original vision. The center is a welcoming multigenerational environment for a variety of educational, cultural, recreational and social services."

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