Lincoln Warrington, 48, and Jermaine Grant, 43, of Burlington Township -- leader of the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ -- funneled the money into Warrington's pockets through a dummy entertainment company, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
Warrington used nearly $3 million, mostly on an ICGJC debit card, to buy luxury cars, designer clothing and real estate, take trips to Disneyland and other resorts with his family and to pay for private school for some of his kids -- who were chauffeured in a Mercedes Benz van paid for with ICGJC funds, an indictment 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 $1,982,470 in taxes, 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.
Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI and IRS with making the case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Ann Mahoney of his U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division in Newark.
The indictment charges both with conspiring to defraud the United States and Grant additionally with five counts of personal income tax evasion.
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