Ripon pastor accused of selling church: Fiancée seen driving BMW around town
RIPON — A longtime Ripon pastor faces charges including embezzlement and forgery for allegedly selling his church, the land it sits on and other property totaling $525,000 and using the money for his own use, such as to buy a new BMW car.
Randall Radic, 52, former pastor at First Congregational Church in Ripon, could serve a maximum of nearly 10 years in state prison if convicted on charges of embezzlement under false pretenses, forgery and forgery of corporate documents as well as an enhancement of committing a white-collar crime that involves more than $500,000, authorities said Wednesday.
“This is something you wouldn’t expect from a man of the cloth,” San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Phil Urie said. “It’s disappointing, absolutely.”
Radic is next scheduled to appear Nov. 15 in the Manteca branch of San Joaquin County Superior Court. He remains out of custody on his own recognizance.
Radic’s Stockton-based attorney, Michael Babitzke, declined to comment.
The board of directors of the church had no knowledge its property had been sold, prosecutors said.
Radic had been the pastor of the church for about 10 years until he resigned last week just before turning himself in to the District Attorney’s Office, authorities said. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Ripon police Sgt. Ed Ormonde said authorities began their investigation of the case on Oct. 20, when a church director contacted the department about suspicious activity from a Modesto bank account under First Congregational’s name.
Church directors never authorized such an account to be opened, Ormonde said. But about $460,000 had been deposited into the account, Ormonde said. He also said money was being transferred to other accounts or withdrawn.
He said investigators determined Radic used some of that money to buy a new BMW worth about $102,000.
“People in the community saw his fiance’e drive the BMW,” Ormonde said.
Investigators learned Radic had sold the main building of the church, the land it was on and another small house on the property to unsuspecting buyers — a Manteca couple — for about $525,000, Ormonde said. The couple, who were planning to turn the property into an office building, are not in any trouble and are cooperating with authorities, the sergeant said.
Ormonde said the church will not lose any property. He added police have recovered about $357,000 in cash and seized the BMW.