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Big money family feud rocks TBN

May 5, 2012 at 3:20 PM   |   Comments

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., May 5 (UPI) -- The granddaughter of U.S. television evangelists Paul and Janice Crouch said her job as finance director for Trinity Broadcasting Network was to fool the IRS.

"My job as finance director was to find ways to label extravagant personal spending as ministry expenses," said granddaughter Brittany Koper.

The New York Times reported Saturday TBN attorney Colby May said Koper's accusations are a coverup for embezzlement of $1.3 million committed by Brittany Koper and her husband Michael.

"They're just trying to divert attention from their own crimes," said Colby.

May said the Kopers admitted to lying and lending themselves company funds. The couple also loaned Michael Koper's uncle $65,000, the newspaper said.

But the Kopers say they were fired last year when they questioned the huge amounts of money spent on lavish lifestyles for the TBN founders and for using their religious mission to escape paying millions of dollars in taxes.

Among the allegations, the Crouches have reportedly defined workers, such as Janice Crouch's chauffeur, as ministers to avoid paying federal withholding taxes.

The Crouches themselves own two sets of his-and-her mansions, including a $5.6 million mansion for Paul Crouch in Newport Beach, Calif., that is down the street from a mansion for Janice Crouch, who rarely sleeps there.

Instead, the Times reported, Janice Crouch lives mostly in a mansion in Orlando, Fla., that sits next to a separate mansion for Paul Crouch that is mostly used as the home of her chauffeur, who doubles as a security guard.

TBN reportedly lost money in 2010, despite $93 million in donations and earnings of $64 million for selling airtime on its television network and $17 million from other investments.

At the same time, Brittany Koper points out her uncle, Mathew Crouch, a TBN vice president, and his wife live in a rent-free house in Costa Mesa, Calif., and a separate home nearby with an indoor basketball court, a putting green and a wall-mounted Transformer robot was remodeled by the company for their adult sons.

On television, the Crouches say they have almost no assets of their own, but Janice Crouch's dogs have a private, air conditioned sanctuary and the Crouches and their son, Brittany's uncle, allegedly spend $300,000 every year on meals.

May said an extravagant lifestyle was necessary to show viewers that following the Gospel has its rewards.

But other religious figures scoff at that as a rationalization.

"Prosperity theology is a false theology. TBN has been a huge embarrassment to evangelical Christianity for decades," said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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