Thursday, August 13, 2015
A former top Church of God International official was sentenced on Thursday afternoon to serve 34 months in federal prison for stealing $889,766 from the Cleveland, Tn.-based church.
Judge Curtis Collier told Troy Scot Carter, “The real victims are the members of the church.”
Prosecutor James Brooks said many of the churches “are in small, rural communities and they don’t drive Porsches.” He said Carter bought a Porsche and took trips to New York with some of the money.
The defendant told the court, “I’ve lost it all.”
He said, “I never would have thought I would have put myself in this position.”
Carter said that “a bad business venture” led to the embezzlement over a two-year period.
He said, “I have apologized to the church leaders. I have done everything in my power to help them recover the money.”
Attorney John Cavett said the church has sued a second individual allegedly involved in taking the money, and he said Carter is working with church attorney Jim Logan on that case.
Carter said since his arrest he has not been allowed to have contact with his wife and two daughters. He said Cleveland auto dealer Don Ledford had given him a job and was in the courtroom in his support.
Carter was given until Sept. 14 to report to prison.
Judge Collier noted there were a number of letters in his behalf, including one from a person who called him “a model citizen” who was appointed by the mayor to a number of boards and was a founder of the greenway foundation in Cleveland.
The Cleveland audio-visual specialist had worked beginning in 2010 as the communications director for the church.
He had been charged only with a count involving a $100,000 theft involving his handling of a church convention.
The plea agreement says Carter also billed the church for $372,350 in services that his firm did not actually perform, including setting up a fictitious company.
He had rebates from hotels where conventions were held that would normally go to the church paid to himself. This amounted to $300,416.
Carter also finagled matters so that the church paid one $117,000 bill twice, and he kept one of the $117,000 checks
He was directed to make full restitution, including $250,000 that was paid out to the church by an insurance company.