NYC Pastors Repay $1.2 Million Diverted from 9/11, Hurricane Katrina Donations
[Update: A Journey Through NYC Religions offers more context on Keyes and his church, including its significance in the Pentecostal movement and its efforts at racial reconciliation.]
Pastors Carl and Donna Keyes have agreed to repay their New York City church $1.2 million after an ongoing Associated Press investigation found they had spent funds raised for 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina victims instead upon themselves.
The husband and wife settled an attorney general probe Wednesday, the Associated Press reported today.
CT previously explored how Glad Tidings Tabernacle, an Assemblies of God church that "started Pentecostalism in New York in 1907" (according to A Journey Through NYC Religions), became instrumental in relief work directly following 9/11 as thousands of dollars and hundreds of volunteers poured into the church located just 2.5 miles from Ground Zero.
Now, on the same day that President Obama dedicated the 9/11 Memorial Museum, news broke that Keyes and his wife have agreed to pay back money given to their charities—including Urban Life Ministries and Aid for the World—that they had used to build a farmhouse in New Jersey among other personal expenses.
"Carl and Donna Keyes and [former Glad Tidings executive director] Mark Costantin abused the trust of their congregants and used Glad Tidings Tabernacle as their personal bank," said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. In New York, it is illegal for heads of nonprofits or religious organizations to take loans from their organizations.
The agreement prohibits Carl and Donna Keyes and Costantin from holding any leadership positions at New York nonprofits or religious corporations, but does allow Donna Keyes to continue on as senior pastor at Glad Tidings.
Costantin agreed to pay back nearly half a million dollars to Glad Tidings, money he owes for spending $1.2 million in loans—some of which paid for the mortgage on his house as well.
As well as recounting the mismanagement of church and charity funds, the AP also reported that Keyes "embellished stories about relief work he performed in New York in the months of the 9/11 attacks. In some cases, he took credit for things that other people had done."
CT regularly reports on church fraud, including how fraudbuster Barry Minkow cheated his own church out of $3 million, and how a YWAM leader swindled friends, family, and missionaries out of millions of dollars.