ATLANTA (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted two men on charges of scamming about 1,600 churches out of nearly $9 million.
The jury returned the 91-count indictment against Abraham L. Kennard, 45, of Wildwood, and R. Scott Cunningham, 52, of Dalton, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced Tuesday.
According to prosecutors, the pair began a scheme in July 2001 in which they promised a forgivable loan or non refundable grant of $50,000 for every $3,000 in fees a church or other non-profit paid their company.
Nationwide, churches in 41 states invested at least $8.7 million after Network International Investment Corp., based in Wildwood, promised great returns, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The indictment claims Kennard paid a group of affiliates to locate potential victims for the company’s “Church Funding Project.” He then hosted a series of bogus financial presentations throughout the country.
In 2002, Cunningham, a Dalton attorney, deposited the proceeds from the scheme into a trust account, the indictment claims.
The money paid for limousines, private jets, luxury automobiles and property for Kennard, his family and girlfriend and Cunningham, the indictment claims.
“This is a disturbing scheme that preyed on the trusting members of the faith community,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Duffey.
No trial date has been set in the case.