Last December, the Ohio attorney general accused CBN founder Bruce Hawthorn of mishandling millions of subscriber dollars. Payments for medical claims had fallen more than two years behind. And the number of subscriber families plummeted from 25,000 early last year to fewer than 11,000 this summer.
In April, an Ohio court put the nonprofit ministry into receivership. Meanwhile, the IRS ordered CBN to pay $750,000 in assessments to reimburse the federal agency for costs associated with its investigation. At one point, the IRS also threatened to revoke CBN's tax-exempt status.
But attorney Scott Haley, appointed by the court as receiver, slashed overhead expenses, cut the staff size in half, used savings to begin to pay off the backlog of unpaid claims, and launched an independent audit. Haley paid the IRS assessment in July, mortgaging several pieces of ministry real estate to come up with the funds.
A new board was formed on August 13 to rebuild the ministry. The new board chairman is John Conley, president of Circleville Bible College near Columbus.
One returning board member is Howard Russell, the Tennessee pastor ousted by founder Hawthorn in a power struggle last year.
Haley and CBN staff say the hemorrhage of money and members has stopped. From April through June, subscriber payments exceeded new claims. Haley told the court in July that more than half of the backlogged claims from 1999 had been paid.
"I'm very encouraged," Russell told CT. "There have been times in the past several months when I was not optimistic, but the new ...1