A Church of God in Christ Charities executive and his church in Brockton, MA are defendants in a federal lawsuit which claims a fraudulent attempt to make money off an African gold scheme. In the US, federal courts are not courts of general jurisdiction, thus only certain types of cases or issues may be filed in a federal lawsuit.
Dr. Alexander Hurt, Sr. and the Dominion Christian Church of God in Christ are accused by the Pennsylvania based American Capital Holdings of cheating them out of an estimated $232,000. Its not clear whether Hurt had ever had any success with buying African gold.
The Enterprise News reported that Hurt devised a scheme that never produced the promised payout for the investor.
A city church and its pastor have been sued in federal court for what the plaintiff says was a failed scheme to make money off African gold.
The suit, filed April 24 in U.S. District Court, claims the Dominion Christian Church and its pastor, Alexander Hurt, took money from a Pennsylvania company, American Capital Holdings LLC, that was never returned, and the company never saw any payout from its initial investment.
In October 2011, the suit alleges, Hurt approached American Capital Holding and said he would be able to buy discounted gold from Uganda and sell it at a profit. The company says it paid Hurt an initial payment of $150,000 that was supposed to turn around into a profit of $300,000 within 15 days.
The initial money was supposed to be protected be a corporate bond, which the suit claims was never issued.
Hurt told the company he had success doing this and was making a “substantial” return on his investments, according to the suit.
On Feb. 25, American Capital says, it received an email from an account belonging to Hurt that said he had gone to Africa, but had “lost the gold, all the money and nearly lost my life.”
In the email printed in the suit, Hurt claims he was kicked out of his church and was being hunted by a Congolese agent.
“That money was going to change both of our lives and get our reputation back,” the email stated.
American Capital Holdings is seeking a return of the $232,000 it says it paid to Hurt, along with interest and attorney fees. They also want a full accounting of what happened to the money, according to the suit. They are also asking the court for double or triple damages for alleged violations of state and federal law including the RICO anti-racketeering statute.
According to an email allegedly sent by Hurt to ACH, he blames to loss of the money and gold on his “greed”. You can review the full suit here (pdf).
Hurt is listed on COGIC’s official site as a board member and ironically as executive Director, Search Committee Chair of COGIC Charities. COGIC Charities is the the “benevolent arm” of the denomination providing money to causes such as disaster relief. In addition, under Bishop Charles Blake, in 2008 COGIC Charities began awarding scholarship money to students. According to the website, Blake has directed the charity to give “the most dollars for scholarships in the organization’s history”.
Although this case does not involve church funds, nevertheless its troubling. If Hurt did indeed take the $232k, what did he do with it? Is this a sign of a man with serious financial problems?
Given the nature of the lawsuit —and Hurt’s connection to an arm of the church whose focus is money management, it would be wise for the denomination to remove Hurt until this has been legally resolved.