Man accused of embezzling from church, then selling it

December 23, 2019 GMT

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina say a man embezzled more than $100,000 from a church and then sold it even though he didn’t have the legal rights to do so.

Armie Spencer Jr., 49, was arrested and charged with embezzlement following a three-month investigation, Pitt County Sgt. Lee Darnell said in a news release Friday.

Investigators received a report of suspicious financial activity regarding the Piney Grove Original Free Will Baptist Church in September, Darnell said. Detectives found an improper pattern of activity in which Spencer allegedly moved more than $100,000 from church accounts into his personal accounts and the accounts of his defunct business, International Galleries, according to the release.

Detectives also discovered the church building and grounds had been sold. Oasis of Hope Pentecostal Church bought the property in May for $425,000, WITN-TV reported citing records.

The new owners of the church were not involved in any criminal activity and were not aware that any such activity had occurred, Darnell said in the release.

In addition to embezzlement, Spencer is charged with felony obtaining property by false pretense and conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense. He was booked in the Pitt County Detention Center. It’s unclear whether he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.