Monday, September 24, 2012

Minister Enjoys Parishioner's Generosity

He raked in over $10 million from his parishioners and filled his pockets.

Donors poured $2.5 million into the minister's charity to help 9/11 victims. Donors had other opportunities to raise relief money with at least another $2.3 million collected for efforts along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, in the poorest corners of West Virginia and Tennessee, and even in remote African villages. Tens of millions more flowed through his fingers from the sale of church properties. 

He enjoyed the fruits of his charity work.

According to financial records, internal correspondence and interviews with former employees conducted by The Associated Press:


  • Rev. Carl Keyes of the Urban Life Ministries and Aid for the World diverted large sums donated for 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina into his cash-starved church, then used charity and church money to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal credit card bills and other debts, documents show. 
  • He failed for years to file required federal and state reports showing how much money his charities received and spent.
  • He used large church donations from a wealthy supporter to pay his sons' private college tuition.
  • The minister used a big donation meant for one of his charities to clear a mortgage on his family's house, according to an accountant who told Keyes he was quitting, in part because of the transaction.
  • And, when his congregation sold its 19th-century church in midtown Manhattan for $31 million, he and his friends benefited.
For example, $950,000 of the proceeds was used to buy his family a country home near the Delaware River in New Jersey. Another $1 million went to support one of his charities, which spent more on failed, lavish fundraisers than on promised programs in Africa.
After paying large debts and buying a building to convert into a new church, the congregation had $13.8 million in cash, according to a February 2008 financial document obtained by the AP. Three years later, it told a court it had to sell that building because only $180,486 remained in its bank account.

Once the AP expanded its investigation into the minister's operation, the New York attorney general's office opened its own probe.

Keyes and his lawyer say all payments by his church and charities were proper.


Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, Newsweek.com, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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