August 6, 2014 11:00 am -

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.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

14 responses to Former Missouri Mayor Sentenced For Defrauding Money From International House Of Prayer

  1. mea_mark August 6th, 2014 at 11:18 am

    I wonder why the groups defrauded didn’t seek restitution?

    • Foundryman August 6th, 2014 at 11:21 am

      My guess is both groups are political activists groups masquerading as religious organizations and really don’t want the media scrutiny

    • tiredoftea August 6th, 2014 at 11:23 am

      Even corrupt, former mayors have friends in high places.

    • MIAtheistGal August 6th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Many, many organizations and companies do not. It creates bad publicity and can affect future donations/business.

      Unfortunately, the fraudsters will move on to the next company and do the same thing again because nothing about the prior fraud or embezzlement appear in a background check since no one pressed charges.

  2. tiredoftea August 6th, 2014 at 11:24 am

    This guy stole from his daughter’s education? What a sleaze!

  3. mea_mark August 6th, 2014 at 11:50 am

    More info if interested …

  4. Jeff Allen August 6th, 2014 at 11:53 am

    The only thing worse than defrauding the International House of Prayer would be defrauding the International House of Pancakes

  5. edmeyer_able August 6th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    I feel guilty when I know I could contribute more but don’t, how anyone could live w/themselves when stealing from the poor is beyond my comprehension.

    • Candide Thirtythree August 13th, 2014 at 3:26 am

      find some way to give directly to the poor like I do… I do not trust charities, most are only there as an excuse to make some rich person even richer or to launder money for some rich person like Mitt Romney.

  6. voice_reason August 6th, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    where was the IRS when they were really needed?

    • edmeyer_able August 6th, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      Being harassed by the republican house.

  7. Robert Keith Johnston August 6th, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Look for this story to be featured in the new season of American Greed.
    It’s tailor-made for just such a program.
    Go get ’em, Stacey!

  8. akinsc August 7th, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    From my Facebook.

  9. Candide Thirtythree August 13th, 2014 at 3:20 am

    it is very telling that neither of the charities wanted their money back… right wing groups sticking together.