Ex-pastor to take plea deal in illegal sale of Ripon church

Agreement would trim prison term by nearly 3 years

MANTECA – A former Ripon pastor accused of illegally selling his church has agreed to a plea bargain that would send him to state prison for slightly more than a year.

But a courthouse scheduling problem prevented the deal from becoming official Thursday.

Randall Radic, 53, appeared briefly in the Manteca branch of San Joaquin County Superior Court only to be told to return Monday, when the plea agreement and sentencing are expected to be announced.

The agreement calls on Radic to plead guilty to a count of felony embezzlement, serve 16 months in prison and pay $50,000 in restitution, according to Deputy District Attorney Phil Urie. In exchange, the state will drop nine other counts of embezzlement and fraud-related charges against Radic.

Radic also will avoid the likely four-year prison term he would have faced if he were convicted by a jury, Urie said. Radic’s mother already has paid the $50,000, the district attorney said.

Michael Babitzke, Radic’s Stockton-based attorney, said he was satisfied with the terms of the plea agreement. But he said his client would plead guilty to grand theft, not embezzlement.

Radic preached at the First Congregational Church in Ripon for about 10 years before he resigned in October amid a police investigation.

Authorities allege Radic sold the church for $525,000 to a Manteca couple without the knowledge of First Congregational officials. Radic used about $102,000 to buy himself a new BMW car, authorities said.

Radic also allegedly forged documents to gain possession of a church-owned parsonage and then took out equity loans worth more than $200,000 on the property.

A resolution to the case had been expected when Thursday’s hearing was scheduled. But instead of informing the court of the plea agreement and receiving Radic’s sentence, lawyers waited through a long series of other unrelated proceedings Thursday before being told no court reporter was available for Radic’s appearance.

A court reporter finally showed up, but not before the attorneys had agreed to continue the case to next week.

Radic remains in the San Joaquin County Jail.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Record, USA
Jan. 27, 2006
Neil Gonzales, Record Staff Writer

Religion News Blog posted this on Friday January 27, 2006.
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