A Teaneck man was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison Tuesday for helping a religious hate group preacher steal more than $5.3 million from the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ to pay for luxury cars, lavish vacations and private school for his children.
Lincoln Warrington, the 49-year-old church treasurer, teamed up with Jermaine Grant, 44, of Burlington Township to funnel the money into Warrington's pockets through a dummy entertainment company, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
They bought buy luxury cars, designer clothing and real estate, took family trips to Disneyland and other resorts and paid for private school for some of his Grant’s -- who were chauffeured in a Mercedes Benz van paid for with ICGJC funds, an indictment previously returned by a federal grand jury alleges.
As part of the scheme, Grant and Warrington -- known as "Chief High Priest Tazadaqyah" -- created Black Icon Entertainment (BIE) "in order to portray Grant as an entertainment industry mogul whose wealth was derived from his professional success," Carpenito said.
"In fact, BIE virtually conducts no legitimate business and is funded almost exclusively by money taken from the ICGJC," he said.
The pair conspired to not report the $5,342,920 stolen from ICGJC from 2007 through 2015 -- avoiding taxes on the money in the process, the U.S. attorney said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has dubbed the Harlem-based Church of God in Jesus Christ a black nationalist hate group. The organization -- part of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement -- preaches that blacks are among the lost tribes of Israel.
Grant himself has claimed that a black Jesus will return to Earth to kill and enslave whites.
Both men pleaded guilty to various counts in exchange for leniency at sentencing.
U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini sentenced Grant to 18 months in federal prison and Warrington to 12 months and one day.
Warrington and Grant each must serve out their entire sentences because there’s no parole in the federal prison system. They’ll also be under three years of supervised release.
Their plea agreements also require that the church develop and present to the U.S. government a plan “designed to ensure the church’s compliance with applicable federal income tax laws going forward” before the government returns any money or property seized during the investigation, Carpenito said.
The church must also show that whatever is returned goes to it and not for the personal benefit of Grant or anyone else, the U.S. attorney said.
Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Division and IRS-Criminal Investigation with the investigation leading to the previous guilty please, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret A. Mahoney and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig.
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