Shocking news has emerged out of Kansas City, KS where several Church of God in Christ pastors have been indicted on charges of bilking thousands of investors out of money through the fraudulent sales of shares in what was called Petro America Corporation. The massive black church ponzi scheme involved ministers in COGIC jurisdictions in both Kansas and Missouri. Unfortunately, thousands of people were robbed of their money. The case is under federal jurisdiction.
According to the Kansas City Star [source], Elder Martin Roper, 45 and Pastor Edward Haliburton both of Kansas City, KS were key front men in the scam. Haliburton has already pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors have alleged that since September 2008, all 12 defendants conspired to commit securities and wire fraud by promoting and selling Petro America shares despite cease and desist orders from Missouri and Kansas regulators.
The indictment said Hawkins gave billions of shares to the co-conspirators, who agreed to sell the stock and return kickbacks.
More than 12,000 victims allegedly invested more than $7.2 million in the company, which they were told was worth almost $300 billion.
The indictment alleged that the conspiracy had “no basis” for the company’s inflated valuation and that its assets consisted of little more than speculative mining claims and nonproducing oil fields.
The defendants often recruited their buyers through churches, the indictment alleged. Recruiting ministers to his scheme, Hawkins purportedly called the group the “Ministers Alliance” and gave its members white fedora hats and millions of Petro shares.
Haliburton is listed in the Kansas East jurisdiction directory as pastor of the Showers of Blessings COGIC located at 2201 Quindaro Blvd. Bishop Lemuel Thuston is the bishop supervising Haliburton.
The Pitch News, a Kansas City based newspaper reported that in addition to his nefarious financial schemes, Roper was convicted of forcible rape. See Kansas state sexual offender registry He was also a minister at Bales Temple Church of God in Christ, 2340 Bales Ave in KCMO , where his brother Otis Roper is the pastor and under the supervision of Bishop John M. Johnson (Western MO 2nd jurisdiction). Roper was one of the key solicitors for PCA and hatched the scheme with the help of other ministers from his African American Pastors and Ministers Alliance (AAPMA). The alliance was simply a front to gain access to gullible black church members. When the scandal broke, The AAPMA quickly issued a public statement in support of its leaders claiming they were “outstanding citizens”.
“Our African American Pastors and Ministers Alliance organization have signed and sent a petition of over 250 names of Missouri Petro America Corp shareholders that have also signed their support for Petro America Corp. Unfortunately, your office has failed to acknowledge our request and is operating under a veil of Public trust to tear down and destroy our business community and we hope and pray this is not at our expense for political gain. Furthermore, we understand that no complaint from a Missouri resident has been filed against Petro America Corp. Also, Mr. Owen Hawkins and Mr. Martin Roper have been champions for minority businesses and are outstanding citizens in our community. We therefore are requesting a meeting with your office as soon as possible.”
But the “ministers alliance” was discovered to be the primary portal by which it drew in church members. The pastors sold out their own members for money. One of those was Allen Collins, a minister at Pentecostal Church of God in Christ in Kansas City, MO. The insatiable greed of the preachers group was stunning. Reports say that even after the Missouri Attorney General issued a cease and desist order the ministers continued selling the fraudulent stocks right up until they were arrested [source].
Owen Hawkins, a ravenous –but dumb– wolf
The prosperity movement has spawned some of the most ravenous wolves in recent times. Consequently, it has negatively impacted the “black church” more than any other religious demographic. Black church members are groomed to be deceived and taught that their desire for wealth and money is godly. But as the scripture says a fool and his money are soon parted. Hawkins knew exactly what to do to manipulate the latent lust of his victims. He got himself a “degree” from a small Bible school and then used it to present himself as a prosperous preacher whom God had blessed. From his website:
Dr. Hawkins received his Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree (D.H.L.) from the Tabernacle Bible College and Seminary in Tampa, Florida on October 28, 2010 for his work of being a catalyst for making the dreams of economic freedom of so many Americans come to fruition. Recipients of this degree in our generation have been only among those considered the elite and renown of modern society. Those such as Mother Theresa, President Roosevelt, President Bill Clinton, President George H.W. Bush, Dr. Billy Graham just to name a few.
But the Better Business Bereau of Greater Kansas City knew that Isreal Owen Hawkins was a crook.
“We first heard about Petro America in late 2008 and recognized it as a Ponzi scheme. Owen Hawkins solicited churchgoers and prayed on their faith as a way of making money. He claimed that Petro America was an upcoming oil company about to go public (for over 2 years) and investments in it would garner strong returns. In actuality, there was no oil company. There was no oil. It was just smoke and mirrors. The Missouri Secretary of State issued a Cease and Desist order against Owen Hawkins, Martin Roper and Petro America also in late 2008. The problems mostly stopped in Missouri, but people outside the state were still being ripped off. Hawkins continued to rake in money, paying himself a $595,000 salary plus a $175,000 bonus. The Better Business Bureau published a reliability report on the company with an F rating.”
None of the jurisdictional bishops or churches involved have made any public statements on the crimes. Its unknown whether any of them profited financially from the scam.