Former Grand Rapids pastor, church secretary will repay $220,000 taken from church, judge vows

| July 21, 2013

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A former Grand Rapids pastor and church financial secretary may have escaped jail time, but a judge declared before more than 100 members of the preacher’s former flock that he would be on the hook for every penny stolen from the congregation.

Arthur Pearson, the fired former pastor of the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, and the removed church secretary Gerolanita Bailey, were told today they have 48 months to pay back a combined total of more than $220,000.

The influx of former and current members of the church showing up for Thursday's sentencing hearing forced court staff to set up an auxiliary room with a remote video hook-up so they could watch the proceedings 10 floors below.

Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Leiber scolded the pair for using their positions of trust to take money from the people they were supposed to be serving in order to finance a lavish lifestyle.

He said he would not hesitate to put them in prison if they failed to live up to their repayment obligations – a sentence that has a maximum term of 15 years after each pleaded no contest to embezzlement charges earlier this year.

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Category: Church Security

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