Church sues ex-pastor over alleged theft

| March 20, 2010

A preacher who was supposed to be feeding his flock fleeced them instead, a lawsuit alleges.

Carpenter's Chapel Inc., a church on Dogwood Road in Solway, has filed suit in Knox County Chancery Court against former pastor Hobart Randalls "Randy" Tinch, alleging he robbed church coffers of $347,000 during his 19-year tenure there.

Attorney Steve Shope, who is representing the church, said information gleaned from an audit of the church's books will be turned over to authorities for a criminal probe. Tinch, who lives in Oak Ridge, could not be reached for comment.

Shope described Tinch as a "charismatic" figure who used church offerings to support a lavish lifestyle that included pricey cars and expensive trips. The church was unaware of Tinch's alleged thievery until he stepped down as pastor in January 2008, when a resulting audit by a certified public accountant uncovered the misappropriation, Shope said.

The church sought to avoid litigation, but Shope said Tinch did not respond to attempts to meet with him to resolve the case outside of the courtroom.

"(Tinch) as pastor of the church took advantage of the relationship and violated the confidence of (the congregation) and misrepresented, concealed and misled (the church) to obtain money to pay for property and obligations of (Tinch) from (church) funds," the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit, filed this week, contends the church not only lost the pilfered funds but also has incurred costs to uncover the alleged embezzlement.

"The … intentional fraudulent conversion of (church) funds has caused (the church) to suffer damages in excess of $400,000," the lawsuit alleges. "This amount represents the loss of funds, loss of profits for non-use and expenses in calculating damages, including accounting fees, attorney fees and interest."

The church is seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages and another $500,000 in punitive damages and any "rents or profit" Tinch earned from unspecified property the lawsuit alleges he bought with stolen church loot.

The lawsuit also seeks the forfeiture of any assets "obtained by fraud by" Tinch.

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Category: Church Security

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