MIAMI – A judge has delayed arraignment until next month for the founders of a prominent Brazilian evangelical church who are accused of attempting to smuggle more than $56,000 into the United States.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrea Simonton agreed to the postponement until Feb. 6 at the request of federal prosecutors and attorneys for the couple, Estevam Hernandes-Filho and Sonia Haddad Moraes Hernandes. The arraignment hearing had been scheduled for Monday.
The couple, who founded Brazil’s Reborn in Christ Church, is accused of attempting to smuggle $56,467 into the United States when they arrived at Miami International Airport on Jan. 8 from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
They declared to customs officials they were carrying less than $10,000.
Inspectors said they found money stashed inside a Bible, a CD case, a suit jacket pocket in suitcase and in a backpack carried aboard the plane by the couple’s son.
Brazilian authorities have also issued arrest warrants for the couple on fraud and other charges, contending that they took money from church parishioners to buy millions of dollars in real estate and other assets.
Brazil is seeking extradition of the couple from the United States to face those charges in Brazil.
The couple remains free on $100,000 bail each. Federal prosecutors want that amount increased to $250,000 because of the seriousness of the Brazilian charges, according to court documents.
Jan. 30, 2007