Florence pastor pleads guilty to bank fraud, identity theft; used position to conceal crimes

Pee Dee Crime

RALEIGH, NC – A well-known Florence pastor has pleaded guilty to bank fraud and identity theft in connection to his job as a supervisor at a BB&T bank.

Tony McElveen Sr., pastor of the Greater Faith World Outreach Church, also known as the Full Gospel World Outreach Church, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Raleigh, NC, on Thursday, according to U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr.

McElveen used his position as BB&T branch manager, in Rowland, North Carolina, to steal the personal identifiers of two elderly customers to fraudulently obtain loans and credit cards in their names, according to an investigation.

The loan proceeds and credit cards were used for his personal benefit to pay for, among other things, rental cars, a home security system and hotel rooms in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  

In addition, McElveen closed a $50,000 certificate of deposit owned by one of the elderly victims, without her knowledge, and used most of the proceeds to make a large payment toward his delinquent residential mortgage, Higdon said.

McElveen tried to conceal his criminal activity through the use of his position as pastor for the Greater Faith World Outreach Church in Florence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

McElveen deposited some of the fraudulently obtained proceeds into the church’s operating account and used his signatory authority on that account to withdraw funds for his personal benefit. He opened a BB&T account in the Church’s name, through which he similarly laundered fraud proceeds.  

McElveen even made it appear that one of the initial loan withdrawals for $28,500 was a charitable donation made by one of the elderly victims to the Church’s building fund, according to the U.S. attorney.

“This defendant’s crime is simply despicable,” said Mr. Higdon. “Whether you see it as taking advantage of vulnerable, elderly individuals, whether it’s his effort to disguise his criminal activity by using his position as a bank officer, or whether he abused his role as a trusted pastor, Mr. McElveen’s actions are beyond horrible.”

McElveen faces a maximum of 30 years’ imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine for bank fraud and a mandatory two-year term of imprisonment, consecutive, for aggravated identity theft.

Sentencing is scheduled before Chief Judge Boyle on August 19, 2019.

McElveen also will be required to make restitution to BB&T and American Express for their losses.  

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