Date: January 28, 2020
NEWARK, N.J. – The leader and the main treasurer of the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ were sentenced to federal prison today for their respective roles in a scheme in which both men caused the church to pay millions of dollars in personal expenses for the leader that the leader then omitted from his personal tax returns.
Jermaine Grant of Burlington Township, New Jersey, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and Lincoln Warrington of Bergen County, New Jersey, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison. Both men previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini to Count One of the indictment against them, charging them with conspiring to defraud the United States. Judge Martini imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
Grant and Warrington used their leadership positions in the church to divert to Grant millions of dollars belonging to the church and its members for Grant's personal use and benefit. The defendants used a variety of methods to carry out the scheme. For example, Grant and Warrington created a purported entertainment company that portrayed Grant as an industry mogul whose wealth was derived from his success in the industry, thereby concealing from church members that his lifestyle was supported entirely by the church and donations from its members. Grant and Warrington also used the church's money to pay Grant's other personal expenses, including payments for rental real estate properties, vacations, high-end luxury items, and private school tuition for Grant's minor children. Grant, with Warrington's assistance, then omitted these benefits from his individual income tax returns, resulting in the evasion of a substantial amount of tax due and owing to the United States. In total, Grant and Warrington concealed millions of dollars in income from the IRS, and failed to pay at least $250,000 in taxes.
The plea agreements in this matter include a requirement that the church will develop and present to the United States a plan designed to ensure the church's compliance with applicable federal income tax laws going forward. Before the United States returns to the church certain cash and property seized during execution of the search warrants in this case, the compliance plan must address the disposition of that cash and property and ensure that they are returned for the benefit of the church rather than for the personal benefit of Jermaine Grant or any other individual.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini sentenced Grant and Warrington to three years of supervised release.