07 January 2009

Armstrong guilty of theft says cheif detective for the court

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Rev'd Donald Armstrong, a former TEC presbyter who fled to the African protection has received a scathing report by detective Michael Flynn.

As you recall, in November the courts ordered the removal of records from Grace Church including computers. After examining the removed records, Flynn told the court that after considering all the information available, Armstrong was guilty of embezzling nearly $400,000 from his church to pay for his children's' education.

The Rev. Donald Armstrong funneled money earmarked for "single, unmarried seminarians" from a Grace Church trust fund to pay for his two children's college tuition, according to Colorado Springs police investigators.

That accusation was contained in a affidavit supporting a search warrant used by police in a November raid on Grace Church and St. Stephen's and its offices in a next door Victorian home known as the McWilliams House at 601 N. Tejon St.

The affidavit, returned by detective Michael Flynn to the court Tuesday, outlines the 18-month police investigation from May 2007 - when they were notified by the Episcopal Church, Diocese of Colorado that it suspected financial wrongdoing by Armstrong - and Nov. 25, when a judge signed the warrant authorizing the search.

"The Diocesan investigation concluded, in part, that the Reverend Donald Armstrong misappropriated approximately $392,000 in parish and Clarice C. Bowton Trust money without authorization," the affidavit states.

Armstrong was indicted and convicted in 2007 in ecclesiastical court - a move that has no teeth outside the denomination.

A former bookkeeper at the church alerted Bishop Robert O'Neill in late 2005 of the alleged wrongdoing, the affidavit states.

Flynn looked at checks issued "on a monthly basis from July 1999 to March 2006 (when the Armstrong children were attending college) amounting to approximately $226,000."

Armstrong would endorse the checks and write them to "College Fund," the affidavit states.

"The Bowton Trust was a restricted trust fund providing scholarships for single, unmarried seminarians from Colorado, and was administered by Grace Church," according to the affidavit. "Father Armstrong's children were not seminarians. The police investigation determined Donald Armstrong was in control of parish finances and the Bowton Trust with no effective oversight and/or internal controls, and misused trust income (averaging about$9,000 a year) from about 1992 until 2001 when the trustee stopped further disbursements (because Armstrong could not prove he was in compliance with the trust fund)."

Armstrong led his congregation out of TEC after the irregularities were discovered. They claim ownership of the church plant and litigation is in progress at the moment. The trial is scheduled for February.

Such is the caliber of the best known clerics who fled to the Global South primates for safe haven from the persecution by TEC.

It's interesting that the news for the no-province-of-nothingland keeps getting worse and worse.

Please pray for Mr. Armgstrong - he's going to need it.