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  • Posted November 30, 2008 by
    Los Angeles, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Black in America

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    Some of the Biggest Thieves in the Black Community are it's Preachers and no good Poverty Pimps!

    First AME pastor's spending examined, John J. Hunter used church credit cards for personal items, an audit finds. He denies any wrongdoing. By Teresa Watanabe, November 30, 2008 NOTHING TO HIDE': *The Rev. John J. Hunter
  • told The Times he had agreed to repay the church, but he would not confirm the amount. A law firm's letter obtained by The Times said it was about $122,000 plus $6,000 in interest. The pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest and most prominent black congregations in Los Angeles, used church credit cards to pay for at least $122,000 in personal expenses over a three-year period, including jewelry, family vacations, clothing and auto supplies, according to documents and church sources. The spending came to light during the course of an independent audit and Internal Revenue Service investigation into the financial affairs of the pastor, John J. Hunter; his wife, Denise Brown Hunter; and the church, according to people connected with the church, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation. Earlier this year, field officials in the Los Angeles office of the IRS' criminal division issued summonses to two banks and a charge card company to testify and produce financial records involving Hunter and the church, documents obtained by The Times show. IRS officials would not respond to questions about the status of their investigation. In an interview Saturday, Hunter, 51, said he has signed an agreement to repay the church, though he would not confirm the amount owed or the details of the payment plan. He also denied any criminal wrongdoing and said he was working with tax authorities to repay his back taxes. "I may owe the IRS some money, but I absolutely have never done anything criminal," Hunter said. "I have nothing to hide. To the extent I have any responsibility, I have fully embraced it and all of these matters have been addressed." Hunter and Irma Brown Dillon, a church finance official and Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, said that stronger accounting policies have been put in place, including more frequent audits and guidelines on appropriate use of church credit cards. "Some things were probably inappropriately charged to the church credit card, but all of these issues have been resolved," Brown Dillon said. "The church is not going to suffer any losses." Hunter was appointed in 2004 to the storied church, historically the city's epicenter of African American political and social activism. With 19,000 registered members and a $25-million budget encompassing more than a dozen corporations, the church has been a de rigueur stop for Democratic political candidates over the years, including Bill Clinton, Al Gore and President-elect Barack Obama. In August, a law firm representing the church sent a letter to Hunter demanding repayment of about $122,000 plus $6,000 in interest, according to a follow-up letter from the firm dated Sept. 4 and obtained by The Times. In response, Hunter proposed a nine-year repayment plan featuring monthly installments of $1,408 with 3% interest, according to the letter. But the church's attorney, Gary M. Slavett of the Beverly Hills firm of Holtz, Slavett & Drabkin, wrote that Hunter's proposal could jeopardize First AME's tax-exempt status. That's because public benefit corporations cannot make loans to their directors or officers without approval of the state attorney general, he wrote. Slavett declined to comment on the letter, citing requirements for attorney-client confidentiality. But he and Hunter said the church's tax-exempt status remained intact. Separately, sources familiar with the case said the church's executive board had rejected Hunter's nine-year proposal and the two sides had agreed to a four-year repayment plan. Hunter and church finance officials declined to disclose details of the plan. It was not clear how Hunter, who receives a six-figure salary and use of a $2-million church parsonage in Encino, would repay the money. In addition to his debt to the church, he also faces a substantial debt to the federal government. Tax authorities have filed federal tax liens totaling more than $309,000 against Hunter and his wife, according to documents obtained by The Times. Hunter said the bulk of the back taxes owed are mostly unpaid Social Security taxes, penalties and interest spanning 17 years. He said he had legally opted out of the Social Security system, as ministers are allowed to do, but that the IRS had no record that he had done so and assessed the taxes. He opted back into the system a few years ago, he said. Allegations of financial mismanagement have dogged the pastor since his tenure at First AME Church in Seattle from 1998 to 2004. More than 30 Seattle church members formed a "Save Our Church" committee to protest what they alleged were improper charges on church credit cards and tax evasion by Hunter. In a series of 2005 interviews, Hunter dismissed the allegations and categorically denied any wrongdoing. "There's nobody who's a leader who doesn't have enemies," the Boston University Law School graduate said at the time. "You have to make decisions. You can take the easy road, or you can take the right road." The Seattle allegations traveled to Los Angeles with Hunter, causing a ruckus here. However, most church officers backed him. Four of the six chairs of the church's steward and trustee boards, which oversee finances and property respectively, signed a letter of support for Hunter in 2005. But this year, questions about Hunter's finances resurfaced with the IRS investigation and subsequent discovery of his personal debt to the church. His wife also serves as president and chief operating officer of First AME's economic development arm. Founded in 1872, First AME is the first congregation established by African Americans in Los Angeles. But it became a civic powerhouse with the arrival in 1977 of the Rev. Cecil L. "Chip" Murray, a high-spirited minister who transformed what had been a staid congregation into a center of social and political activism. Murray wore an Afro and a dashiki; brought in drums and guitars; and began preaching a passionate social Gospel to go beyond Bible studies and help meet people's material needs. Under his leadership, the church developed more than a dozen corporations to build low-income housing, develop jobs, expand neighborhood food programs and educate young people through college scholarships and a church-owned elementary school, which was closed a few years ago. The church drew high-profile visitors, including Clinton and Obama, South African leaders Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, even singer Michael Jackson. Murray retired in 2004 and was replaced by Hunter. Hunter's financial issues have alienated some church members, who say they were dismayed by reports of what they viewed as lavish spending at a time of great economic need in the community. Between January 2005 and January 2008, Hunter's spending included more than $6,000 on clothes, $3,000 on auto supplies, more than $2,000 on jewelry, $1,000 on bicycles and more than $10,000 on personal purchases during church-sponsored trips to India and China, according to documents obtained by The Times. Others said they continued to support the pastor. Melville Perry, vice chairman of the church's trustee board, said the Hunters generously tithed to the church and improved its financial operations. "I support Pastor John," Perry said. "He's resolving and meeting his obligations as pastor of our church. He's given us a strong income and paid all of our bills." Watanabe is a Times staff writer, Times staff writer Ted Rohrlich contributed to this report Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times ......................................................................
  • First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles (FAME) Julius Butler, "the Liar" is a long standing member of First AME, (FAME) church. Julius Butler was a police informant who committed perjury which resulted in the unwarranted felonoius conviction and 20 year prison incarceration of former Black Panther Geronimo Pratt, an honorably discharged Vietnam War Veteran. "The Original Railroad In Geronimo's original trial in 1972, the prosecution offered no physical evidence linking Geronimo to the murder. The prosecution's flimsy case rested on the testimony of only two witnesses. One of these witnesses, named Julius Butler, was a police informant. Butler testified that Geronimo "confessed" to him that he had committed the Santa Monica tennis court robbery. Butler swore that he was not a police informant. But since Geronimo's conviction, numerous documents from the LAPD and the FBI have identified Julius Butler as an informant who snitched on the Panthers for two years. FBI documents released in 1979 disclosed that Butler had more than 30 documented contacts with agents before Geronimo's trial in 1972. Butler was a former L.A. County Deputy Sheriff who joined the Black Panther Party in Los Angeles in the late '60s. At one point, he had some responsibilities for security for the Panthers. But many Panther members found a lot of reasons not to trust him. In 1969, for example, Butler and six other Panthers were charged in a case of kidnaping. In a pre-trial hearing, Butler pleaded guilty, without even talking to his lawyer, and was given probation and a $200 fine. This was highly unusual treatment for a Black Panther convicted of four felonies! In August 1969 Butler was expelled from the Black Panther Party. Two days later, he produced a "letter" which he said he had written earlier, accusing Geronimo Pratt of the 1968 robbery. The police used this "letter" as a pretext to arrest, frame and convict Geronimo. Evidence of the Frame-up The new hearings in Geronimo's case, which began December 16 in Santa Ana, California, centered around Julius Butler. Butler is now a lawyer and the chairman of the board of directors of the First AME Church, one of the largest Black churches in L.A. For the first time in 25 years, Julius Butler was forced to testify about his role in the railroad of Geronimo. And as soon as Butler opened his mouth, it was clear that he is still working to help the government frame-up of Geronimo and keep him in jail. Geronimo's lawyers produced documents from the LAPD, FBI and L.A. County DA's office identifying Butler as a government informant. But in the face of this, Butler told Geronimo's lawyer Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. that he was not an informant. Butler tried to say he was just a "concerned citizen who was passing along information." But Butler was finally forced to admit that he was "acting as an informant" at certain times. Despite Julius Butler's attempt to twist the truth, the hearings established new details about his relationship to law enforcement agencies. Two LAPD officers, Duwayne Rice and Edward Henry, testified about their numerous contacts with Julius Butler. In the words of Geronimo's attorney Stuart Hanlon, they painted a picture of a "classic informant relationship with law enforcement." ....Julius Butler is a fraud, a liar, disgraceful, etc., etc. The perjured testimony of Julius Butler was used to send Geronimo Pratt to prison. Julius Butler is also a member of First AME Church in Los Angeles, to which typically the Black middleclass protect and defend the treasonous in a Julius Butler, Brentwood Burke, Merv Dymally, Kevin Murray, Kwame Kilpatrick, William Jefferson, etc., etc., etc. *"In 1971 Karenga, Louis Smith, and Luz Maria Tamayo were convicted of felony assault and false imprisonment for assaulting and torturing two women from the United Slaves, Deborah Jones & Gail Davis, over a two day period. A May 14, 1971 article in the Los Angeles Times described the testimony of one of the women: "Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Ms. Davis's mouth and placed against Ms. Davis's face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said." They also were hit on the heads with toasters."
  • Julius Butler *(he's also a member of FAME, where the fake and phony Black middleclass hangout)
  • and
  • Ron Karenga are cohorts, meaning both of these individuals were at odds with the original Black Panthers. ************************************* First AME pastor's spending examined "There's nobody who's a leader who doesn't have enemies," the Boston University Law School graduate said at the time. "You have to make decisions. You can take the easy road, or you can take the right road." .....more likely John J. Hunter, has seriously compromised the value of all his University degrees...... " Law School Morehouse College (B.A.), The Boston University School of Law (J.D.), Princeton Theological Seminary (M. Div.) and the University of Missouri at Kansas City, School of Business (Mini M.B.A.)" that of a University Degree based upon the art of stealing and what it means to be a thief.

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