Black Collar Crime Round-Up: June 8, 2012

Dianna Covin • Clayton Cowart • Joseph C. Gardner, Sr. • Mark Allen Green
Joel Hochmuth • Doris “D.R.” Ray McElhenney • Thomas Russell Reilly

Dianna Lynn CovinCharged: Dianna Lynn Covin, 52, daycare provider, Creative Learning Center, the daycare center of First Baptist Church, Starkville, Mississippi, with two counts of felony child abuse. Covin is accused of drugging two infants, a seven-month-old boy and a five-month-old girl, with her own prescription of Tizanidine, a muscle relaxant, “for the express purpose of keeping (them) quiet.” Reports the Dispatch: “According to the affidavit filed for the seven-month-old victim, when she was contacted from the emergency room while the child was still under medical attention Covin intentionally withheld information vital to the child’s life.” Story: Dispatch, June 7, 2012

Clayton Allen CowartSentenced: Clayton Allen Cowart, 40, president, pastor & “apostle,” Church of God The Bibleway, Inc., Winter Haven, Florida; pastor, overseer, and “Supreme Council President,” Jesus Saves Thru Faith Apostolic COGTB, Inc.; founder, Apostolic Bibleway College; owner, Mothers Restaurant, Winter Haven; and author of such e-books as Instructions for a Happy Woman, Help, I’m a Pastor’s Wife, 10 Mistakes Pastors Make, and Fighting Temptation; to one year of probation after pleading no contest to one count of misdemeanor stalking, leaving him without a record of conviction. The Ledger reports that Cowart, who is married and the father of three,”was charged after a woman complained that he put a GPS tracking device on her blue 2006 Nissan car without her knowledge or permission, according to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office affidavit. The victim had sought an injunction of protection against dating violence in August 2010 after she told officials she had had an affair with him, according to court records.” Story: Ledger, June 7, 2012

Joseph C. Gardner, Sr.Pre-trial hearing set: Joseph C. Gardner, Sr., 59, pastor, Phillips Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, Los Angeles, for July 11, 2012, on charges of brandishing a gun at a man to keep him from parking on the public street in front of his house, and lying to police about owning several guns. The Los Angeles Wave cites a deputies’ report: “‘We arrested him, handcuffed him and put him in our car, and as we were driving to the Marina Station, the talkative suspect said to us: ‘I would have been better off if I had shot him,’” at which they added another felony count to Gardner’s charges. The pastor was booked and ultimately released on $150,000 bail.” Story: Los Angeles Wave, June 6, 2012

Mark Allen GreenCharged: Mark Allen Green, 41, pastor (until his arrest) of only two months, Marshall Baptist, Albertville, Texas, and former pastor (“for a couple of months”), Cowboy Church of Marshall County, Albertville, with two counts of sexual abuse of a child. Green, who is currently being held on a $500,000 bond, is reported to have an extensive criminal background; per WAFF — which provides an arm’s-length list of charges including multiple thefts (including auto theft, livestock theft, and repeated thefts by check/passing bad checks), domestic violence, and numerous traffic violations — “Looking at his criminal background, his life of crime appears to have begun before the age of 20. Over the years, he’s faced numerous charges in at least six counties in Texas. State prison officials said Green first entered the state system in 1996 on theft and burglary of a vehicle charges. He was released in 1998 but was put back into the system in January 2001, and that’s where he stayed until late 2007. … One [Cowboy Church] official said he wasn’t there but for a couple of months, that bad news followed him and he was terminated.” WAFF also reports: “Members of the Board of Elders have not responded as to whether they did a background check on Green before hiring him.” Story: WAFF, June 5, 2012; WAFF (with video), June 6, 2012

Joel HochmuthSentenced: Joel W. Hochmuth, 52, former communications director of the virulently anti-gay, anti-Catholic (“the Papacy is the Antichrist”) Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod / WELS (whose member church Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church kicked out Michele and Marcus Bachmann in 2011); son of WELS Pastor Robert Hochmuth; former CNN correspondent (1987 – 2002); and former instructor, Kennesaw University; to one year in jail with work release privileges, ten years’ probation and lifetime registration as a sex offender, after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. The Journal Sentinel reports: “Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Kathryn W. Foster withheld imposing a prison term on [Hochmuth], who had faced up to 15 years behind bars followed by 10 years of extended supervision for the crime. But she warned Hochmuth that if there was any hint of him ‘going back to any kind of behavior like this,’ his probation would be revoked and the full ’25-year prison sentence will be staring you in the face.’ Hochmuth used the Internet to download hundreds of images of boys engaged in sexual acts with other youths and men.” Hochmuth is married and the father of a 16-year-old son. Story: Kennesaw University, November 18, 2011; Journal Sentinel, June 4, 2012; Truth Wins Out, June 5, 2012. See also: Presenter Bio, Walk This Way, May 18-21, 2009; State of Wisconsin v. Joel W Hochmuth

United StatesMistrial: Doris “D.R.” Ray McElhenney, former deacon, Fairview Baptist Church, Columbus, Mississippi, charged with fondling his 11-year-old granddaughter with a “back massager.” The child, now 14, testified on a recording played in court: “We went to Papaw’s house on a Sunday. He kept saying to let him massage me. He tried to massage me in my privates. I told him I didn’t want him to. He told me to meet him in the shop. I was scared. He gave me a bag of candy and $5. He didn’t want anyone to know. He always tells me not to tell anyone.” Ironically, according to court testimony, McElhenney’s daughter and her husband were married by one Richard Vaden, who, reports the Dispatch, “was convicted in Noxubee County Circuit Court in 2006 of two counts of fondling his [three] daughters.” Vaden’s defense attorney, Rod Ray, also defended McElhenney. McElhenney’s son and another daughter, testifying for the defense, blamed McElhenney’s son-in-law for “creat[ing] problems among our family.” Story: Dispatch, May 17, 2012; Dispatch, May 19, 2012

Thomas Russell ReillySentenced: Thomas Russell Reilly, 59, church volunteer / van driver, The Tabernacle, Gadsden, Alabama, to a total of 110 years in prison (one term of 30 years and four terms of 20 years each, to run concurrently) following his April conviction on one count of first-degree rape (of a seven-year-old girl) and four counts of sexual abuse of a child under 12 years old — one count for each of four girls between the ages of five and ten.

The Gadsden Times notes: “Additional evidence that was not presented at trial, but was included in the presentence report prepared by the Alabama Department of Pardons and Paroles, showed these weren’t the first such allegations to be brought against Reilly. Reports were filed in 1997 with the Gadsden Police Department for the offenses of sexual abuse, indecent exposure and enticing a child for immoral purposes. Although formal charges were not brought, an investigation was conducted that also involved underage children.”

After sentencing Reilly, Etowah County Circuit Judge Allen Millican addressed the court: “Ladies and gentlemen, I notice there are a lot of folks here this morning that came and watched this trial, and I received some mail from some of the elders in the church that watched this trial. Some of the mail made reference to an overzealous district attorney and the fact that if they were on the jury, they would find reasonable doubt. I am here to tell you that I heard a wise man once say, ‘Render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar’s and unto God those things that are God’s. I pray about my cases, every one I have to try and rule about. I don’t appreciate somebody trying to second-guess me on something like that and sending me stuff from the House of the Lord. Y’all need to tend to your business, and I’ll tend to mine.” Tabernacle pastor Tommy Marshall was quick to deny that such letters were approved by the church.

The day Reilly was convicted, another member of The Tabernacle, Jamie Leigh Duffey, was charged with second-degree sodomy, stemming from an allegation that she engaged in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. The current status of Duffey’s case is unknown. Story: Conservative Babylon, April 5, 2012; Gadsden Times, May 30, 2012

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