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Sunday, September 18, 2005                                                                                       View Comments

Police say minister wrote bad checks

OLIVE BRANCH — A Memphis, Tenn., minister has been charged with obtaining money by false pretenses after Olive Branch police said he wrote checks totaling $11,000 on a closed bank account.

The Rev. Carlton Kneeland, pastor of Greater Emmanuel Christian Assembly in Memphis, was arrested Friday. He was being held Saturday on $75,000 bond in the DeSoto County jail in Hernando.

"We received a complaint from Chex-In, a check-cashing business, that he had been writing checks based on the church's account. But the account (with Bank of America) was closed April 19," said Maj. Don Gammage, chief of detectives for the Olive Branch Police Department.

Gammage said police have recovered eight checks totaling $5,450 that were returned because of the closed account.

"We believe that he may have written 12 to 15 checks for an additional $6,000 to $7,000," he said. "We know there are other checks out there, but we aren't sure how many he wrote."

Kneeland, 46, formerly preached at several churches in the Olive Branch area, but he was running the Great Emmanuel church from his home in Memphis.

"Each one of the checks — usually for amounts ranging from $500 to $750 — in the memo section showed something like, 'vacation,' 'salary' or 'cash advance,' " Gammage said. "Some people who cashed his checks knew him as a reverend. He was using that status to prey on these small businesses."