Cleveland Minister Accused of Stealing Parishoners' ID's

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

A clergyman is accused of stealing about $300,000 from the church he led, taking money from a fund for the poor and stealing parishioners' identities before his imprisonment last year on unrelated charges.

The Rev. Donald Ray Robinson, who was released from federal prison last month after serving time for wire fraud, was indicted Monday on charges of theft, securing records by deception, identity fraud and money laundering.

An investigation began after parishioners of Lane Metropolitan Christian Methodist Episcopal Church found that Robinson used church property as collateral to obtain loans and laundered money through bank accounts, prosecutor James Gutierrez said.

Robinson, 56, also drained church funds earmarked for the poor, stole the identities of church members to obtain illegal credit cards and pocketed a $5,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation for a computer training program, Gutierrez said.

Robinson became pastor in summer 2005. The criminal activity occurred for about two years, Gutierrez said.

A separate indictment accuses a worship leader at the church of co-signing one of Robinson's loans and of money laundering.

Robinson could not be reached for comment; his telephone number is private, and the Cuyahoga County court clerk's office on Tuesday had not been notified of a lawyer for him.

Robinson told church members last year that he would be going away for 10 months. He was in federal prison in Pennsylvania after being convicted of a real estate scam in Mississippi, Gutierrez said. The Federal Bureau of Prisons said Robinson was released Dec. 14 after serving a sentence for wire fraud.