Pastor Arrested for Fraudulently Selling Church Property to Fuel Drug Habit

Pompano Beach, FL - A Florida pastor is facing multiple fraud and theft charges after authorities say he sold his church property for $600,000 to support his drug habit.

The pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Pompano Beach, James Edward Smith II, has been arrested on multiple charges for allegedly defrauding the church to support his drug habit.

An investigation began in April 2020 after complaints from parishioners and church founders that Smith had fraudulently gained control over the church and its funds.

Officials found that Smith had filed a forged quit claim deed that allowed him to take over the church's property, which he then sold for $600,000 to support his drug habit.

Additionally, he's been charged by the Broward County Sheriff's Office for larceny and fraud associated with worthless checks totaling more than $1,600 that were written on the church's bank account.

Smith was arrested on Tuesday and booked into Broward County Jail.

When authorities searched Smith's home, they found heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and a stolen firearm, which led to additional charges against him.

Smith faces charges of organized scheme to defraud, fraud, grand theft, criminal use of personal identification information, unlawful filing of false document records against real or personal property, grand theft of a firearm, possession of a firearm by convicted felon, and violation of probation.

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