MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A Memphis pastor who is being accused of stealing nearly $50,000 from a 77-year-old woman preached on Facebook live at the time he was set to be in court.
Even though the pastor was late, he did appear in court later that day.
Pastor Fredrick Smith posted on his personal Facebook page around noon Thursday, saying it was time for the “12-noon prayer” at the church.
And he wasn’t done.
Smith again denied the allegations against him and his wife when asked by FOX13 crews Thursday.
FOX13 obtained a Capital One credit card statement, showing a check written to the company. The check was written from an account in Jerri Smith’s name.
It also listed the pastor’s address. However, Smith declined to comment over the phone regarding the statement.
Smith and his wife led a prayer service at their church, which they broadcasted live on Facebook.
Following both videos, the videos were unavailable. It is unclear whether Smith simply made his profile private or deleted the account.
Both the pastor and his wife were charged in the money scandal. Neither of them addressed the charges specifically during the prayer.
FOX13 spoke to church members after the service Thursday.
“We received peace, understanding, and clarity,” Katrena Stone said. “Our leaders have taught us you love unconditionally, we are all human.”
Jerri Smith turned herself into police Thursday and posted bond the same day.
Ketrena Stone and Jeremy Speed said they are going to continue to pray for and with their church leaders.
“I can’t change anyone’s mind about how they feel but my thing is, know the truth for yourself. Don’t be so quick to judge,” Stone said.
Pastor Fredrick Smith has released the following statement regarding the incident -
The Life Center also known as New Life Holiness Church has served the Mid-South community for 20 years. My wife and I have been committed to sharing the love of Jesus Christ and thousands have been blessed in so many ways and we yet endeavor to do so. Thank you to our church family and friends for your continual support. This past week has been very trying and difficult for our family and our church. I’m sure many of you are aware by now of the allegations against my wife and I. Let me say that these are merely allegations and not fact. At no time have my wife or I ever committed identity theft or forgery. We are asking everyone to respect our privacy as we allow the legal process and justice system to properly mitigate this matter and afford our family and church the opportunity to get through this. We love and pray for Ms. Clevie Williams and her entire family. We believe God will rectify this situation and bring healing and resolve to all.
Life Center, lets remain focused, prayerful and continue to serve our community. This is only a test and by God’s grace we will pass this test and be made stronger, better, wiser, and greater for it! With your prayers and support, we will get through this.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 Thank you so much.
Jerri Smith will be back in court Friday.
Frederick Smith will be back in court Nov. 9.
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Smith, 49, was arrested in connection with the alleged scam he and his wife committed against Clevie Williams.
Jerri Smith, Frederick's wife, was arrested Thursday morning at 10:54. A warrant for Jerri shows the same charges as Fredrick.
Williams told FOX13 she was only a member of the New Life Holiness Church for a few months.
And she said one decision, which she originally thought was an honor, ruined her credit and put her in significant debt.
Williams said Smith asked her to be on the “Mother Board” of the church, which she initially took as an honor.
Shortly after that exchange, Williams said Smith stole her identity and opened up credit cards in her name that he used.
Williams told FOX13 that the pastor failed on his promise to pay off the nearly $50,000 in charges he allegedly made without her consent.
“I was almost speechless. I could not think of anything to do,” Williams said. “I said what is this? I never in my life time had a card, or anything from Bank of America. Never.
“I have never been inside one of the banks.”
Her family gave FOX13 the last statement from Bank of America, dated April 2015.
The amount due was more than $19,000 – nearly $9,000 in charges made in about 10 days.
“I just could not function. I was hurt,” said Williams. “I was more or less angry, and I just didn’t know what else to do.”
Williams filed a police report in May 2015 and identified Smith as a suspect, but she later declined to press charges after Smith agreed to pay the Bank of America bills the next month.
However, Williams told FOX13 that he never did.
Smith denied the allegations to FOX13, saying the money he spent was for “church expenses” and was approved by Williams.
Smith told FOX13 he never stole Williams’ personal information to open any credit card. He said
Williams opened the card and gave it to him to use as church expenses.
Smith is being charged with identity theft, theft of property between $10,000 and $60,000, and forgery between $10,000 and $60,000.
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