A North Carolina televangelist is facing a federal indictment after being accused of committing massive tax fraud for over a decade, according to NPR.
Todd Coontz, 50, was charged with three counts of failure to pay taxes and four counts of aiding and assisting in filing false tax returns. North Carolina news station WSOC conducted their own investigation on the so-called “prosperity preacher” for over five years, alleging that he registered luxury items—including a $1.38 million condo, Ferrari, and Maserati—under his ministry’s name.
Investigators added that Coontz has delinquent tax returns going back as far as 2000. The televangelist is said to owe more than $326,000 in taxes, just from the years 2010-2013.
“As a minister, Coontz preached about receiving and managing wealth, yet he failed to keep his own finances in order,” US Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose anounced. “Coontz will now receive a first-hand lesson in ‘rendering unto Caesar’ that which is due.”
Authorities also claim that the 50-year-old took great pains to hide his income from the IRS. The preacher is believed to have used business funds to pay for more than $227,000 in clothes and $140,000 at restaurants, in addition to taking luxury vacations, all the while claiming these were just business expenses.
His attorney, Mark Foster, defended his client in a statement sent to WSOC.
“Todd Coontz has always endeavored to follow the law and to be a good citizen, father and minister. He trusted others to manage his finances and taxes for him and was shocked to find out he was under criminal investigation by the IRS. We expect that after hearing all the evidence, a jury will fully vindicate Mr. Coontz by finding him not guilty of all charges.”
The televangelist is known for promising financial prosperity to those who opened their wallets to him. The Charlotte Observer noted that he has authored several books on the intersection of faith and finance, including Breaking the Spirit of Debt, 7 Most Common Money Mistakes… and How To Avoid Them and Please Don’t Repo My Car.
The 50-year-old, who currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been ordered to appear at the US District Court in Charlotte.
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