Bishop Anthony Jinwright took the stand in his own defense Tuesday afternoon, saying he never meant to defraud the government and that he now realizes that his compensation was a burden to his church.
Under questioning from Ed Hinson, his lead attorney, Jinwright said he never sought to unlawfully evade his tax obligations.
“No, not at all did I seek to cheat or evade the government on taxes,” he said.
Jinwright’s testimony came before a packed courtroom and on Day 13 of the government’s case against him and co-pastor Harriet Jinwright. The couple, who head Greater Salem City of God in west Charlotte, is accused of failing to report more than $2 million in income between 2001 and 2007.
Earlier today, the government withdrew count 14 against Anthony Jinwright, which alleged that he lied to an IRS agent during the government’s investigation.
Prosecutors told Judge Frank Whitney that the government had not presented sufficient evidence in court to support the charge. Jinwright still faces more than a dozen other counts, including fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion.
Jinwright spent most of Tuesday afternoon on the stand, recalling his upbringing and the years he spent in college and seminary.
The galley was packed with Jinwright’s church members and supporters, some of them at times voicing their agreement with their pastor’s testimony.
Before Jinwright was called to the stand and with the jury out of the room, Judge Frank Whitney had cautioned the gallery to remain silent during afternoon testimony.
In questioning Tuesday, Hinson asked Anthony Jinwright if he had handled his taxes properly.
“No, I didn’t,” Jinwright replied.
Did you feel you were a responsible steward? Hinson asked.
“Not as responsible as I should have been.”
Did you make too much money from the church? Hinson asked.
“I feel that we were blessed tremendously,” Jinwright said. “As I look back over all I’ve seen in this (trial), I think it was too much.”
Then Hinson asked: Do you have any regrets?
“As I look back, I have a lot of regrets,” Jinwright said. “…I never sought to be a burden on the ministry. I sought to be a help. As I look back, I now realize it was a burden … And that is very painful to me.”
Observer reporter Eric Frazier contributed to this report.