Former Missouri Mayor Sentenced For Defrauding Money From International House Of Prayer
A former mayor of Grandview, Missouri, will spend a year and a day in federal prison for misrepresenting his nonprofit company as a tax-exempt charity, a federal judge ruled Monday. 51-year-old Stephen Dennis pleaded guilty in February to wire fraud, admitting he defrauded $35,000 from the International House of Prayer. The Missouri judge also ordered Dennis to pay a $5,000 fine.
U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs opted for a fine because neither the Southland prayer ministry nor a second organization that Dennis allegedly defrauded sought restitution. That money was designated by the prayer ministry to be used to provide relief for the poor and elderly in Grandview, but instead, Dennis funnelled most of the funds into his personal bank account.
The Kansas City Star reports:
Dennis took two $10,000 payments from RED Legacy LLC that were supposed to have been used as scholarships for his daughter, prosecutors said. However, Dennis did not use the money for scholarships, they said.
Dennis resigned in the middle of his second term in early January, surprising other city officials. Attention soon focused on Matters of the Heart, which Dennis founded in December 2011 under Missouri’s laws governing nonprofit organizations.
Dennis accepted a $10,000 check from the International House of Prayer in September 2012, depositing the money into Matters of the Heart’s bank account.
Three months later, he accepted a $25,000 check. Dennis acknowledged almost all of the money went to pay his family’s bills.
Though Dennis received legal advice about obtaining formal tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, he never followed up, court records said.
Does anyone else find this sentence and the fine extremely light? The fine doesn’t nearly cover the amount Dennis stole from the poor and needy.
H/T: The incomparable @CarlaAkins with thanks.
Image: Kansas City Star.