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Evangelist Clint Brown hit by suit

Orlando Sentinel, USA
Apr. 12, 2005
Linda Shrieves, Sentinel Staff Writer • Tuesday April 12, 2005

$100,000 not repaid, Denver church says in Orange filing

A Denver church has sued Orlando evangelist Clint Brown, saying he has refused to repay a $100,000 loan he sought to help buy a building for his Pentecostal congregation.

The suit by Heritage Christian Center is the latest in a series of legal troubles for Brown, who leads the 6,000-member FaithWorld church west of Maitland. Heritage is suing FaithWorld as well as Brown.

The 41-year-old preacher and recording artist also is embroiled in a bitter divorce case and already has been sued by a former church member who says he reneged on a verbal loan agreement with her.

Heritage and its pastor, Dennis Leonard, say in their suit that Brown appealed to the Denver church for help several years ago when FaithWorld needed money for a new building. Leonard wired the money to Brown, and the pair verbally agreed that FaithWorld would repay the loan, said Leonard’s attorney, Howard Marks of Winter Park.

The suit, filed in Orange County Circuit Court last month, says Leonard has seen none of the money, despite demands for repayment. It seeks compensatory damage and interest.

Marks said Leonard knew Brown because the Orlando pastor had performed at the 10,000-member Denver church. Leonard does not want to talk about the case, the attorney said.

FaithWorld attorney Mark Matthew O’Mara would not comment on the suit, saying he had not seen it yet. Susan Williams, Brown’s attorney, did not return phone calls Monday requesting comment.

The suit says Brown and the church never put the loan on FaithWorld’s books because they were trying to hide it from lenders during negotiations to buy the 25-acre church complex once owned by televangelist Benny Hinn. Brown and FaithWorld bought the complex, on Forest City Road, and a handful of residential properties nearby for $9.3 million in 2000, according to Orange County land records.

This lawsuit echoes another filed by former church member Deborah Mitchell. In her suit, Mitchell charges that Brown asked her for a $200,000 loan in 1999 so FaithWorld could buy or construct a new building.

Mitchell says Brown verbally agreed to repay the loan, but Brown, through his attorneys, maintained that the money was a gift to the church.

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