Tulsa Pastor Willard Jones Pleads Guilty To Fraud Charges
Thursday, October 9th 2014, 1:39 pm
News On 6
A Tulsa pastor pleaded guilty Thursday to three counts of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tulsa.
Rev. Willard Jones, 63, is the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church.
During a hearing before District Judge John Dowdell, Jones changed his plea and admitted to misappropriating about $933,000 from the Greater Cornerstone Community Development Project for which he was executive director, said U.S. Attorney Danny Williams.
In a news release, Williams said Jones admitted to taking money from September 2007 to June 2013 from a non-profit organization formed to raise money for the building and operation of a community center in South Haven, a neighborhood in West Tulsa.
Williams said Jones transferred funds from community center bank accounts to church bank accounts and then into his personal bank accounts. Jones admitted using the money on personal expenses and luxury items, including, hotels, gambling, liquor, automobiles and jewelry.
Williams said under his plea agreement, Jones will forfeit his house, a Rolex watch and fur coat.
Jones faces of up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and three years for subscribing to a false tax return.
After federal prosecutors charged Jones in August, some members of the Cornerstone Baptist Church protested during church services in hopes of forcing Jones to step down as pastor, but he refused.
9/24/2014 Related Story: Tulsa Pastor Accused Of Embezzlement Won't Step Down
Jones is scheduled to be sentenced on January 12, 2015.