A pastor has been indicted after being accused of defrauding a man with mental disabilities of at least $27,386.29. Pastor David C. Berry of Praise & Worship Family Outreach Center (PWFOC) in Jasper, Tennessee, also runs The Tax Service and had been appointed by the Social Security Administration to manage the man’s disability payments.
The charges came after a joint investigation by the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The details of the investigation were provided in a report released on Feb. 7.
The investigation reached as far back as 2011, when Berry was appointed as the man’s representative payee.
“After the disabled adult requested the Social Security Administration (SSA) to assign Berry as his representative payee, Berry opened a representative payee checking account to receive the disabled adult’s social security payments,” the report stated.
“As a representative payee, he alone had access to account checkbook and debit card. SSA’s policy does not allow the beneficiary direct access to their account, and Berry did not give the disabled adult access to his account bank statements for review,” the report continued.
The investigation found that Berry allegedly misappropriated at least $16,686.42 in unauthorized check payments to PWFOC and allegedly wrongfully withdrew and transferred $9,000 from the man’s accounts.
The investigation also accused Berry of spending $898.75 of the man’s money on his and his wife’s dental care and $801.12 of the man’s money on car repairs for Berry’s personal vehicle.
Investigators further said that Berry named himself the man’s conservator and wrongfully controlled $366,587.76 belonging to the man and his wife, making multiple questionable transfers from the couple’s account.
The comptroller said that Berry used that money to make a number of questionable purchases, including restaurant, fuel, and retail expenses, as well as a loan for a Super Bowl party.
Following Berry’s arrest, PWFOC released a statement on Facebook.