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Michigan pastor defrauds Brookfield bank out of $1.55 million

Church pastor files forged mortgage lien discharge to defraud another bank

June 25, 2013

A Michigan pastor was indicted by a grand jury in Milwaukee on June 11 after defrauding a Brookfield bank out of $1.55 million in loan money and using the U.S. Postal Service in his scheme.

Timothy L. Woodson, who served as pastor of Well Rehoboth Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., was charged with one felony count of mail fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison.

According to the indictment:

Ridgestone Bank approved a $1.55 million dollar loan to the church in February, 2007. Of that loan, $800,000 was used to buy property, $246,500 used to pay off an existing mortgage on the property and the remainder was used for fees and property improvements.

After that money was gone, Woodson tried to get a loan from Chemical Bank in Michigan, but couldn't because of the existing lien on the church from the Ridgestone Bank loan.

Woodson told Ridgestone he wanted to sell the church, but the bank would not release the lien because of existing debt and past-due payments.

In 2008, Woodson filed a fraudulent discharge of mortgage lien on the church with the Kent County Register of Deeds in Michigan, even going as far as securing a mailbox at The UPS Store in Brookfield and posing as an employee of Ridgestone Bank Loan Services.

The Register of Deeds recorded the fake document and mailed it to the UPS mailbox, believing it was being sent to the bank.

Woodson then told the bank that the church would wait to sell the property, and was approved for a $150,000 loan from Chemical Bank in June, 2008, using the church as collateral. In November, 2008, that loan was increased to $192,000.

Bruce Lammers, CEO of Ridgestone Bank, told NOW that the bank noticed the fraud and immediately reported Woodson to the FBI.

The bank's actual loss was less than $1.55 million, he said, but he would not say what the exact amount is.

In 2010, Ridgestone Bank was one of about two dozen Wisconsin banks ordered to improve its management and reduce delinquent loans by regulators, the Journal Sentinel reported.

The order was lifted in February, 2012, after the bank posted a net income of $1.1 million in 2011, an improvement from a net loss of $8.4 million in 2010, The Business Journal reported.

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