Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Bergen And Burlington County, New Jersey, Religious Leaders Admit Roles In Conspiracy To Evade Taxes On Millions Of Dollars In Income From Church

NEWARK, N.J. – The leader and the main treasurer of the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ admitted their respective roles today in a scheme in which both men caused the church to pay millions of dollars in personal expenses for the leader that the leader then omitted from his personal tax returns, U.S Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Jermaine Grant, 43, of Burlington Township, New Jersey, and Lincoln Warrington, 48, of Bergen County, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to Count One of the indictment against them, charging them with conspiring to defraud the United States.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

Grant and Warrington used their leadership positions in the church to divert to Grant millions of dollars belonging to the church and its members for Grant’s personal use and benefit. The defendants used a variety of methods to carry out the scheme. For example, Grant and Warrington created a purported entertainment company that portrayed Grant as an industry mogul whose wealth was derived from his success in the industry, thereby concealing from church members that his lifestyle was supported entirely by the church and donations from its members. Grant and Warrington also used the church’s money to pay Grant’s other personal expenses, including payments for rental real estate properties, vacations, high-end luxury items, and private school tuition for Grant’s minor children. Grant, with Warrington’s assistance, then omitted these benefits from his individual income tax returns, resulting in the evasion of a substantial amount of tax due and owing to the United States. In total, Grant and Warrington concealed millions of dollars in income from the IRS, and failed to pay at least $250,000 in taxes.

The plea agreements in this matter include a requirement that the church will develop and present to the United States a plan designed to ensure the church’s compliance with applicable federal income tax laws going forward. A preliminary version of this tax compliance plan that is satisfactory to the United States must be provided prior to the date of Grant’s and Warrington’s sentencing hearings. Before the United States returns to the church certain cash and property seized during execution of the search warrants in this case, the compliance plan must address the disposition of that cash and property and ensure that they are returned for the benefit of the the church rather than for the personal benefit of Jermaine Grant or any other individual.

The tax fraud conspiracy charge to which Grant and Warrington pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If accepted by the court, the plea agreement further provides that each defendant will be sentenced to a maximum of 30 months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for July 23, 2019.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie, and IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty pleas.

The government is represented by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig and Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret A. Mahoney, Senior Trial Counsel for the National Security Unit in Newark, New Jersey.

Defense counsel:
Grant: Gerald Lefcourt Esq. and Faith Friedman Esq., New York
Warrington: Richard Levitt Esq., New York

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