Joseph Todd Neill • Donnie Snook • Michael Videau
Sentenced: Aaron Travis Beaird, 39, Mormon “priest” and insurance salesman, financial advisor & founder, Team Financial Services, Enumclaw, Washington; to seven years in prison, three years of supervised release, and restitution of more than $5.7 million, according to U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.
Beaird, who “preyed on clients for ten years … was arrested in July 2012, after he faked his suicide, traveled to Scotland for a week, and then returned to Sea-Tac airport where he was taken into federal custody for investigation of mail fraud and wire fraud. Beaird pleaded guilty in August 2012. …
“According to records filed in the case, for about ten years Beaird held himself out as a financial advisor to friends and family and members of his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Beaird was trusted as a leader of the church. But instead of investing conservatively in annuities and life insurance products, Beaird engaged in a scheme to defraud investors by falsely representing those annuity products and life insurance policies and in some cases appropriating annuity payments and policy premiums directly to his personal use. Beaird created false account statements that he provided to his clients making them believe their funds were safely invested and would be available when they needed them. …
“Victim statements in the case describe how Beaird’s theft has robbed people of not only their life’s savings, but their trust in others. Some write about having to live in a travel trailer because they have no funds to finish building their home or have no money for their retirement or children’s education.
‘The sense of betrayal and distrust fostered by Mr. Beaird’s actions cannot be ignored. This pervasive reality is matched by the deep financial losses incurred with little regard for what those losses meant to the victims. In most instances, each victim’s financial well-being has been irreparably damaged. Life savings were wiped out. For some, the hope of a secure retirement has been replaced with despair and uncertainty, with little time to replace stolen funds. Taken together, the emotional and financial damages inflicted by Mr. Beaird through his fraudulent scheme are overwhelming,’ prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.”
USA Durkan stated: “These crimes were a betrayal of trust. Mr. Beaird’s friends, relatives and members of his church thought he was safeguarding their families’ future. Instead, he used their money to live well, turning their dreams into nightmares.” Story: United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan, Western District of Washington, January 18, 2013
Guilty plea: Larry Michael Bollinger, 67, former pastor, Christ’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Stanley, North Carolina; volunteer, House of Mercy, Belmont, North Carolina; to engaging in sex with two girls, ages 11 and 12, in Haiti in 2009 while traveling on behalf of the Lazarus Project, a Florida-based Christian-prosletyzing organization. The Charlotte Observer reports that Bollinger “will be sentenced at a later date. Each of the sex charges are punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.” The Observer also notes that in May, 2012, “U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler wrote in his order of detention … ‘The government’s forecast of its evidence is disturbing and suggests the defendant, an ordained minister, repeatedly engaged in sexual conduct with girls as young as 11 and 12 years of age while in Haiti doing relief work. … The defendant has been treated in several settings for mental health conditions and sexual addiction.’” Story: Conservative Babylon, May 18, 2012; Charlotte Observer, January 18, 2013
Indicted: Christopher Ryan Crossno, 22, former Sunday school teacher, Spring Creek Baptist Church, Clarksville, Tennessee, on one count of aggravated sexual battery after he allegedly “had inappropriate contact with a six year old female while on the church property,” according to the Clarksville Police Department. Crossno is currently in custody on a $10,000 bond. Story: Clarksville PD, January 10, 2012. Spring Creek Baptist is the same church where Jonathan Tyler Giles served as youth minister until he was charged and ultimately convicted of two counts of statutory rape and one count of solicitation of statutory rape committed against a 16-year-old girl; see Conservative Babylon, January 17, 2011.
Guilty plea: Mark A. Lewis, 58, Mormon “priest,” Bay Village, Ohio, to kidnapping and gross sexual imposition committed against “a young male” between the ages of 12 and 16 “as far back as the late 1970s,” according to the Bay Village Police Department, which reports that Lewis was arrested in July, 2012, “after an investigation that determined Lewis took advantage of his volunteer position with the Church of Latter-Day Saints [sic] and as a family friend of the victim. The investigation revealed that Lewis had sexually assaulted at least three additional victims. …
“During a search of Lewis’ [sic] residence in Lakewood, a large volume of photographs of teenage boys were found in his possession. These photographs appeared to have been of boys Lewis met through the church and befriended. Because of Lewis’ [sic] former position with the Church of Latter Day Saints [sic], he had continual contact with other young males. Police believe there is a high probability of other victims and encourage anyone who may have had contact with Lewis to contact Det. Kevin Krolkosky at the Bay Village Police Department, 440-871-1234.” Story: Bay Village PD, January, 2013
Arrested: Joseph Todd Neill, 36, husband; father of two; business owner; and youth pastor, Northfork Baptist Church, Unionville, Tennessee, on charges of statutory rape by an authority figure and sexual battery by an authority figure, allegedly committed against a 17-year-old female member of his youth group, according to the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, which quotes a police sergeant: “It appears that he had been grooming her for several months and as a result of the grooming of her and her family the relationship progressed and led to inappropriate touching during the past week on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2.” Story: Shelbyville Times-Gazette, January 6, 2013
Resigned: Donnie Snook, 40, director, Saint John Inner City Youth Ministry (an Anglican “youth ministry program with a Christian focus”), Saint John, New Brunswick, from his position as city councillor following his arrest on eight charges of child exploitation, including touching a child for a sexual purpose, producing child pornography, distributing child pornography and possession of child pornography, according to CBC News. Story: CBC News, January 10, 2013; CBC News, January 15, 2013; CBC News, January 17, 2013
Convicted: Michael Videau, 58, former treasurer, deacon and driver, Second New Pleasant Zion Baptist Church, New Orleans, Louisiana, of seven counts of child molestation, including sexual battery, aggravated oral sexual battery, aggravated rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile. Videau’s victims were “a woman when she was a child and her two daughters” — just four and five years old — “more than decade later,” according to the Times-Picayune, which also notes that all were “[r]elated through two of his marriages,” and “lived with him or were entrusted to his care, according to testimony.” Scheduled for sentencing in February, 2013, Videau “faces mandatory life in prison.” Story: Times-Picayune, January 6, 2012; Times-Picayune, January 11, 2013
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