‘Defendant’s crime is simply despicable’: Florence pastor pleads guilty to fraud, ID theft

‘Defendant’s crime is simply despicable’: Florence pastor pleads guilty to fraud, ID theft
Greater Faith World Outreach Ministries

RALEIGH, NC (WMBF) – The pastor of a Florence church pleaded guilty Thursday to fraud and identity theft, according to United States Attorney Robert J. Hidgdon, Jr.

An investigation found that Tony McEleveen Sr. used his position as a BB&T branch manager in Rowland, North Carolina, to steal the personal identifiers of two elderly customers to fraudulently obtain loans and credit cards in their name.

The loan proceeds and credit cards were used for McElveen’s personal benefit to pay for rental cars, a home security system and hotel rooms in Myrtle Beach.

The investigation also found that McElveen closed a $50,000 certificate of deposit owned by one of the elderly victims and used most of the proceeds to make a large payment toward his delinquent home mortgage.

Prosecutors said McElveen tried to conceal his criminal activity through the use of his position as the pastor of Greater Faith World Outreach Church, also known as Full Gospel World Outreach Church. They said he deposited some of the fraudulently obtained proceeds into the church’s operating account and used his signatory authority on the account to withdraw funds for his personal benefit.

McElveen also opened a BB&T account in the church’s name through which he laundered fraud money.

He also made it appear that one of the initial loan withdrawals for $28,500 was a charitable donation made by one of the elderly victims to the church’s building fund.

“This defendant’s crime is simply despicable. Whether you see it as taking advantage of vulnerable, elderly individuals, whether it’s his effort to disguise his criminal activity by using his position as a bank officer, or whether he abused his role as a trusted pastor, Mr. McElveen’s actions are beyond horrible,” Higdon said. “And we look forward to seeking justice for two victims when he appears for sentencing.”

McElveen is expected to be sentenced on August 19. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and $1,000,000 fine for bank fraud and a mandatory two-year term of imprisonment.

McElveen will also be required to make restitution to BB&T and American Express for their losses.

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