Monday, August 4, 2014

Wow! This Is A Most Brazen Charity Theft

by Gary Snyder

The Born Again Christian Center had a five-member board, but only four of the positions were filled—the board was made up of the wife and brother of the pastor, Andre Harris, and two of Harris’s nieces.

A member of an East Palo Alto church is suing the pastor and members of his extended family for allegedly trying to sell both the church and a house donated by a former deacon for personal profit "and personally pocket the proceeds of the sale" and that the congregants never approved any such transactions.

The house (listed at nearly $400,000),  once occupied by the Pastor Andre Harris and his wife Gloria Harris, has already been sold and closed escrow. The adjacent church is still on the market at a listed price of $999,950.

In addition to Harris and his wife, the complaint filed in San Mateo County Superior Court names the pastor's brother Kenneth Harris and his wife Rhona Edgerton-Harris as defendants. The couple are real estate agents at a Century 21 office in East Palo Alto; Kenneth Harris also was the broker of record for the church properties, according to the suit.

Two daughters of Rhona Edgerton-Harris -- April Ingram-Black and Laesheia Turner -- also are named as defendants. They are the nieces of Pastor Harris and members of the Born Again Christian Center's board, along with Kenneth Harris and Gloria Harris, according to the suit. The family members occupy four of board's five seats, the fifth of which is vacant.

According to the suit, the church building and home were donated in 1969 to the church, previously known as Zion Mission Baptist Church, by a former deacon. The home was intended to be used as a residence for the church pastor, who otherwise does not receive a salary.
Harris has served since 1999 as pastor of the church, which changed its name to Born Again Christian Center in 2004. Since its incorporation in 1973, the church has been organized as a religious nonprofit, according to state law.
Included with the suit is a copy of a grant deed that shows Andre and Gloria Harris deeded the house to themselves as a "gift" on April 17, 2014. The deed was notarized by Rhona Edgerton-Harris. The church membership never approved that gift, the suit states.
The suit seeks an injunction to prohibit the sale of the church and the transfer of the home sale proceeds to the defendants. It also seeks the removal of the defendants from the church's board of trustees. (source)

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: Charity Navigator, Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio (NPR), Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), “Betrayal”, (a movie), NBC (on Charity Fraud…TBD), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Marie Claire, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, Charity Navigator, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, Board Room Insider, USA Today Topics, Accountants News,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times, Portfolio Magazine, The Virgin Islands Daily News, NANKAI (China) BUSINESS REVIEW, National Religious Broadcasters newsletter, The Charity Governance Blog, American Chronicle, Palm Beach Post, Detroit Free Press, Oakland Press, Nonprofit World, Socially Responsible Business Forum, PNNOnline, Ohio Nonprofit Resources, Nonprofit Good Practice Guide, Nonprofit Startup Guide, Nonprofit Blog, National Coalition of Homeless Newsletter, Finance and Administration Roundtable Newsletter,, CORP! Magazine, Crain’s Michigan Nonprofit,, PhilanTopic, Nashville Free Press, Nonprofit Law Blog, Seniors World Chronicle, Carnegie Reporter, Assoc. of Certified Fraud Examiners Examiner,, Worchester (MA) Telegram and Gazette, Carnegie Corporation of America, EO Tax Journal, Wikipedia: Non-profit Organizations; Parent: Wise Austin, Accountants News, Veterans Today,, Far-roundtable, #Nonprofit Report, nonprofithelpnews, nonprofit news; National Enquirer, Northwest Herald, The HelpWise Daily, The #Nonprofit Report, Wikipedia (Nonprofit Organization),, Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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