A congregation has lost faith in their pastor, after he sold their church without telling them, and scammed them out of more than half of a million dollars.
A for sale sign never went up in front of the First Congregational Church in Ripon. Local police say the pastor peddled it on the sly and was spending the proceeds on big ticket items. It's no doubt an understatement to say church members are shocked.
"It came out of nowhere, we didn't have a clue", says Church Leader David Prater.
Church members didn't have a clue that their church, which has stood on the corner of Main and Acacia streets in Ripon for over 50 years had been sold. Police say the church pastor sold the church and a small cottage next to it for $525,000 dollars and pocketed the money. Church Council president David Prater said the news left them stunned.
"We were devastated, we didn't know how to explain it to anyone. People were hurt. People were crying", says Prater.
Sergeant Ed Ormonde said pastor Randy Radic put the money in a special account and started spending.
"There was approximately $460,000 that was deposited in the account. Then over a period of about two weeks almost half of the money was deposited into other accounts or withdrawn in cash.", says Ormonde.
$102,000 dollars went for a 2006 BMW, which police have seized, along with about $350,000 in cash. Ormonde says the bank account and transactions made bankers suspicious and they contacted church leaders. The 52-year-old Radic faces felony counts of embezzlement and forgery. And the church's small congregation still can't believe it.
"He was a very good teacher and a good preacher", says Prater.
Prater says visiting pastors are helping them with Sunday services now. Soon they'll be looking for a new permanent pastor. They do have to sort out their finances first But they've hired an attorney to help.
Ripon pastor faces forgery, embezzlement over $400K
RIPON — The leader of a Ripon church is currently facing four felony counts including embezzlement and forgery for underhandedly selling property owned by the church and pocketing the money.
Pastor Randy Radic, 52, turned himself in to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office on Oct. 24 — four days after Ripon police investigators began looking into a tip from a church council member who had been contacted by a Modesto bank and informed that Radic had opened a church account there and deposited over $400,000.
According to Ripon Police Information Sergeant Ed Ormonde, Radic allegedly sold First Congregational Church — located at the intersection of Main and Acacia — for a price of $525,000.
In order to produce the necessary paperwork, investigators suspect that Radic forged sensitive documents that required the approval of the church council — a group that assumes a position similar to the Board of Directors of a corporation when it comes to business dealings.
After Radic had opened the account and deposited over $400,000, police believe he began to wire deposits to numerous other accounts that were eventually tracked and recovered.
Once taken into custody, police were able to recover more than $350,000 in cash as well as a 2006 BMW valued at more than $100,000.
“I’ve been with the department for almost 10 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Ormonde said of the allegations made against the Pastor. “We deal with embezzlement quite often, but never on this scale”
Fortunately for those who have been longtime supporters of the church, the Manteca group who moved forward with the purchase will not be able to take possession because the necessary paperwork was fraudulent.
Ormonde said that the buyers have committed no crime in the dealings and have been cooperative with police throughout the investigation — and that he believes this is the largest land and monetary seizure ever made by the Ripon police.
Radic is currently not being held in custody based on an agreement that he made to turn himself over to the court upon request. He is being charged with embezzlement, embezzlement under false pretenses, forgery, and forgery of corporate documents.
Ormonde wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he couldn’t be arrested in the future.