UNITED STATES NEWS

Ex-Georgia man sought in alleged misuse of millions of Christian ministry donations

Aug 9, 2023, 11:30 AM

DUBLIN, Ga. (AP) — A former Georgia man is being sought on charges of having misused more than $30 million donated by religious groups and individuals for Christian ministry in China, including an Ohio-based group receiving donations from Amish and Mennonite communities.

Jason Gerald Shenk, 45, formerly of Dublin, Georgia, is charged in a recently unsealed federal indictment in Georgia with wire fraud, money laundering and failure to file a report of a foreign bank account.

Prosecutors said Shenk got more than $30 million from faith-based charities and individual donors, primarily from religious communities in Ohio and North Carolina, promising to use the money to produce and distribute Bibles and other Christian literature in China.

Instead, prosecutors allege, he used a lot of it for his own purposes, such as payments to the company running his family farm, buying diamonds and precious metals, buying life insurance policies in various people’s names, online sports gambling, Chile real estate, shares in a nuclear energy company, and credit card and stock purchases.

Shenk remains at large, and Paschal said Wednesday he is believed to be out of the country. Court documents don’t list an attorney representing him.

The indictment states Shenk obtained about $22 million from one charitable group and its donors and about $10 million from another, along with donations from individuals. The scheme began as early as April 2010 and ran until July 2019, with Shenk renouncing U.S. citizenship in 2016 to evade financial reporting requirements, prosecutors said.

Christian Aid Ministries, which says it works with “Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world,” has acknowledged having been one of the victims but hasn’t said how much money was involved.

The Berlin, Ohio-based group told donors that such misconduct “would be a shock” if proven to be true, given “the long-term, trusted relationship we had with this contact, including many face-to-face meetings.” Christian Aid Ministries said it “ceased to use this contact” shortly after it was made aware of the investigation in April 2019.

The group said it recognizes its work in restricted countries put them at risk of exploitation given it was more difficult to verify their work. But the group said “the opportunity to reach people who had very limited access to Bibles and Christian literature was worth the risk.”

“God knows the factual details of this situation and will ultimately judge the matter correctly, regardless of the outcome of the investigation,” Christian Aid Ministries said. “If these funds were indeed misused as alleged, we sincerely apologize that this took place. Our heartfelt desire has been and continues to be that your funds be used to advance Christ’s everlasting kingdom.”

Barry Paschal, spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in Georgia’s southern district, said other individual donors have come forward since word of the case broke and that officials hope more will do so. Individual donors were primarily Amish and Mennonite, and officials have been reaching out to those communities through publications that serve them, he said.

United States News

Associated Press

Florida prepares for next round of rainfall after tropical storms swamped southern part of the state

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Forecasters warned Floridians to prepare for additional flash flooding after a tropical disturbance dumped as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rainfall in the southern parts of the state, with worsening conditions expected Friday. The disorganized storm system was pushing across Florida from the Gulf of Mexico at roughly […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

1 of 2 abducted Louisiana children is found dead in Mississippi after their mother is killed

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Louisiana woman was found dead in her home Thursday, and her two young daughters were abducted and found hours later in Mississippi — one dead and the other alive, police said. A Louisiana resident who had dated the woman was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, in connection with the deaths and […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Ready to renew your US passport? You can now apply online

WASHINGTON (AP) — There’s an easier way to renew your passport — online. The State Department has opened a trial run allowing a limited number of people to apply for their updated travel documents with a few clicks. You can’t just start anytime — windows will open at midday Eastern time each day and then […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

You don’t think corn dogs are haute cuisine? These chefs, using alligator sausage, beg to differ.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Stefani De Palma, an award-winning chef and head of the a team vying to represent the Americas in a French culinary competition in January, knew she wanted her team’s work to feature flavors of her native California. The challenge at the Bocuse d’Or Americas competition this week in New Orleans was […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Attorney charged in voting machine tampering case announces run for Michigan Supreme Court

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An attorney charged in connection with an effort to illegally access and tamper with voting machines in Michigan after the 2020 election said Thursday that he’s running for the state’s high court. Republican Matthew DePerno, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, made the announcement on the social platform X. “After […]

9 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Collins Comfort Masters

Here's how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Ex-Georgia man sought in alleged misuse of millions of Christian ministry donations