David A. Thompson, 47, of Canal Winchester, the former head of World of Pentecost Church in Columbus from 1995 to 2007, faces a 23-count grand jury indictment for theft, tampering with records, money laundering, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and filing incomplete or false income-tax returns, The Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday.
"He is not going to deny reckless behavior. He is not going to deny that he submitted false reports" to church members, Stephen P. Ames, Thompson's defense attorney, told Judge Stephen L. McIntosh.
Private mediation of a civil lawsuit filed by the church against Thompson is scheduled for Nov. 24, the Dispatch reported.
Thompson earned a six-figure salary from the church, but "it wasn't enough ... He took funds to make a better lifestyle for himself …," said Assistant Prosecutor Jason Moore, adding that Thompson improved his lifestyle with such things as a swimming pool in his back yard and expensive cars.
Thompson used money from a church building fund, took out loans on behalf of the church, and spent nearly $1 million the church got on a land sale, Moore said.
Thompson allegedly hid his activities by providing the congregation with false annual reports on the building fund, Moore said.
By the time the activities were discovered and Thompson was fired, the church was in debt, the Dispatch said.