Church accountant allegedly embezzles over $4 million from ministry

Report Date: December 5, 2014

Rahway, NJ — NJ.com is reporting that a former accountant for the megachurch Agape Family Worship Center has been arrested in Los Angeles Tuesday for embezzling $4.25 million from the church over the course of seven years. Through 900 separate transactions, Donald Gridiron, Jr. allegedly wrote checks and wired money to himself.

“Professionally, our former CPA violated the trust of the ministry,” said Lawrence Powell, Agape’s senior pastor. “And personally, I feel betrayed because this man used to be my friend. It hurts, but we serve a God who will get us through this.”

Powell founded Agape 14 years ago in his parents’ garage, and now the church has a membership of over 5,000. The thefts were discovered in March after an individual complained about receiving a bad check from them.

Over $1.5 million of the church’s funds was allegedly wired to the Western States Gold Association, where Gridiron served as treasurer until his resignation in November. Powell said his former accountant initially admitted to stealing $1.5 million, but an investigation discovered that was just a portion of the stolen money.

“As a church, we are trusting people,” Pastor Powell said during a press conference. “We hired a professional, certified public accountant who served us for many years and there was no reason for us to question his integrity in the past. He performed in a stellar manner as far as we can tell. It’s just these past several years he performed with impropriety.”

Gridiron was removed from his post, and the church says it is now working to make sure nothing like this happens again.

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