Pastor sentenced to 5 years on embezzlement charges - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Pastor sentenced to 5 years on embezzlement charges

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Charles Ledford Charles Ledford

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A former Midlands pastor has been sentenced to 5 years in prison after he pled guilty to embezzling over $250,000 from his church.

The Fifth Circuit Solicitor's Office says Charles Ledford embezzled $253,827.43 from the Elmwood Avenue Church of God over a 10-year period.

Police opened an investigation in April 2011 after the church's new pastor, Byron E. Powers, told police several members of the church complained early this year about their personal donation records from 2010 not matching the church's records, according to a police report.

Powers started investigating the church's bank accounts, and discovered a bank account the church was not aware of named "CHURCH OF GOD MINISTRY ACCOUNT." According to the report, the embezzled funds had been deposited and withdrawn through the hidden account since it was opened in 2001.

Powers told investigators that a senior bishop confronted Ledford about the hidden account and the "stolen money," "and the suspect confessed to him," according to the police report. Investigators seized several folders of church financial records after Powers filed the complaint with officers on April 4.

At his guilty plea back in October of 2011, Ledford told the court he would pay back all the money in question. He also provided $30,000 worth of money up front.

However, a report from the court discovered Ledford could not realistically pay back all the money.

Judge Clifton Newman gave out the sentence on Thursday. When Ledford completes his prison term, he will be on probation for 5 years and must pay $50,000.

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Columbia pastor charged with stealing $253,000 from church

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