A man who works for a Tennessee consulting firm told jurors Friday that he cautioned Bishop Anthony Jinwright about financial irregularities as far back as 2001.
The consultant, Donald Kellerman Jr., said he warned Jinwight specifically about portions of the pastor’s compensation that were not being included in his taxable income.
At one point, Kellerman said, Jinwright seemed to reject his advice, responding that fixing the problems would increase his tax liability.
Jinwright, senior pastor at Greater Salem City of God, is on trial in U.S. District Court and is charged with multiple counts of tax evasion, conspiracy and fraud. His wife and co-pastor, Harriet Jinwright, also is on trial.
Kellerman, who works for the Chattanooga, Tenn., consulting firm Chitwood & Chitwood, testified Friday that he never met or spoke with Harriet Jinwright but spoke on several occasions to Anthony Jinwright as well as to a church employee in charge of bookkeeping at Greater Salem.
Kellerman said he and two other Chitwood & Chitwood employees came to Charlotte in late 2001 at the invitation of Greater Salem to review the church’s financial operations. At the time, Kellerman said, the church was in the process of seeking nonprofit status for a separate entity.
“They wanted to make sure they were doing everything correctly,” he said.
Kellerman said Chitwood & Chitwood has been advising churches concerning their financial operations for about 40 years. But under cross-examination by Kevin Tate, a lawyer representing Harriet Jinwright, Kellerman acknowledged that neither he nor any other employee at the company has a degree in finance, accounting or law.
Prosecutors showed the jury some of Kellerman’s handwritten notes from 2001 that listed potential irregularities at Greater Salem, including:
— Financial statements at the church that contained incorrect information and did not comply with generally accepted accounting principles.
— Anthony Jinwright’s compensation package had been set up incorrectly.
— Money collected during church services was given directly to Anthony Jinwright and wasn’t included in his taxable income.
— Church minutes concerning the approval of Jinwright’s housing allowance could not be located.
— Tithe envelopes were regularly totaled, but “seed” envelopes were not. (A witness testified earlier that Greater Salem members often gave “seed” donations to the pastor.)
— The amounts totaled on church envelopes did not match bank deposits.
— Anthony Jinwright was being reimbursed for expenses, but the church did not have a qualified reimbursement plan and Jinwright was not required to submit receipts.
— The church paid college tuition for the Jinwrights’ daughter, but Greater Salem did not have a scholarship program for other members.
In total, prosecutors told the jury, the handwritten notes showed that Kellerman found nearly $300,000 that, in his opinion, should have been included in Anthony Jinwright’s taxable income but was not.
Kellerman said he also advised Jinwright not to accept money directly from the congregation.
During a brief but withering period of cross-examination, Kellerman said he never received formal training in accounting or finance. His degree, he said, was in paralegal studies.
“They (Greater Salem) never met with one licensed professional with Chitwood & Chitwood in relation to the work that you did, did they?” Tate asked the witness.
Tate also asked Kellerman whether the company in 2001 was looking to sell Greater Salem its services and thus had a financial interest in finding perceived problems.
Kelleman acknowledged that Chitwood & Chitwood signed a contract with Greater Salem based on the results he found.
Tate is expected to continue his cross-examination of Kellerman when court resumes today. Kellerman will then face cross-examination from Anthony Jinwright’s lawyers.
In other testimony Friday, prosecutors called to the stand Varnell Gray, a former Greater Salem member who said he once served as a business administrator at the church and was Anthony Jinwright’s personal assistant.
A prosecutor showed Gray two payroll checks made out to Anthony Jinwright, both dated June 2004. One was made out for $5,826.92. The other was for a similar amount. Neither check was issued through the payroll company employed by the church.
“Why was Greater Salem Church issuing checks this way?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Randall.
“This is the way we always issued his payroll,” Gray said. “I don’t know why.”
Randall showed Gray a third payroll check made out to Harriet Jinwright for $5,761.38, also signed by Gray, then another made out to Restoration Travel Network.
“Did Greater Salem Church pay the Jinwrights for personal vacations?” Randall asked.
Gray said the check paid for a trip the Jinwrights took to the Cayman Islands and Honolulu. The money came out of the church’s operating account, he said.
Randall also showed the court other checks – one for $6,531 – made out to cover college tuition for the Jinwrights’ daughter, also drawn on the church’s operating account.
“Did Greater Salem Church pay for any other members’ childrens’ tuition?” Randall asked.
“I don’t recall,” Gray said.
Rhi Bowman contributed to this report.