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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Pastor in the Mink Coat and Rolex Faces Prison

TULSA (CN) - An Oklahoma pastor admitted he stole $933,500 from a community center to buy himself real estate, a Rolex and a mink coat with matching hat and gloves, prosecutors said.

Willard Lenord Jones, 63, of Tulsa, was charged in August with three counts of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. He signed a plea deal with prosecutors Thursday, admitting to all four charges.

Jones faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each wire fraud charge and up to 3 for the false tax return.

"I knew that what I was doing was wrong when I committed the acts described in this statement," Jones said in the plea agreement.

Prosecutors said Jones stole the money from September 2007 to June 2013 from the Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church and the Greater Cornerstone Community Development Project.

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

Jones was executive director of the community center, overseeing design, construction and fund raising.

Prosecutors said he fraudulently transferred donations from community center bank accounts into church bank accounts, then into his personal accounts.

"Jones admitted using the money on personal expenses and luxury items, including hotels, gambling, liquor, automobiles, and jewelry," prosecutors said in a statement. "Pursuant to his plea agreement, Jones will forfeit his residence, a Rolex watch and fur coat."

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

Jones' property is in Tulsa and Osage County.

He agreed to pay the community center more than $907,000 in restitution, and $80,000 in restitution to the IRS.

The church and community center did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Community center spokesperson Rossalyn Wilson said in August: "Our 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. "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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