Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Armstrong Found Guilty of Theft

From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

An ecclesiastical court of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado unanimously found the Rev. Donald Armstrong guilty today of stealing nearly $400,000 from his Colorado Springs parish and of using discretionary funds improperly...

...The court, made up of both clergy and lay church members, deliberated for eight days before issuing its ruling. Both sides have 30 days to respond before the court issues a sentencing recommendation that could be as severe as defrocking Armstrong.

During the trial, a forensic auditor hired by the diocese presented evidence that Armstrong diverted church funds to pay for his children’s college education and to cover personal expenses such as cell phone bills and car payments. A board member for a trust fund that Armstrong used for his kids said those funds were forbidden for such purposes.

The court pronounced Armstrong guilty of six counts that also included failing to report $548,097 in income to the Internal Revenue Service, receiving illegal loans of $122,479 and failing to maintain proper accounting books...
Background for this judgment can be found here, here and here. The Motion for Summary Judgment, which includes the evidence against Armstrong presented at the Ecclesiastical Trial, can be found here.

Note that Armstrong left TEC and joined Nigeria the very same day that the evidence against him was released by the Diocese of Colorado.

I hope that the Primates are paying attention. The result of some of them encouraging such "church jumping" is that a thief (and that is not hyperbole anymore folks; he's been convicted) can switch churches, and avoid being held accountable for his actions.


UPDATE: A press release from the Diocese of Colorado can be found here. Episcopal Life offers this report, which includes the following paragraph:

...Armstrong and some 340 members of the 2,500-member congregation voted to join the Nigeria-based Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) as Grace CANA Church in May and continue to occupy the parish's property. Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church continues to meet at nearby First Christian Church until a civil lawsuit filed with the El Paso County District Court is decided...

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