Pastor and Wife Arrested for Stealing and Gambling $400K In Church Money

June 25, 2012  |  



Do you know where your tithe dollars are going?

If you were a faithful member of Bethel Institutional Missionary Baptist Church in Houston Texas, then they may have been going right into the pocket of your pastor and his wife…then to a Louisiana slot machine.

KHOU-11 news in Houston reports:

A Houston pastor and his wife are in the Harris County jail charged with bilking their former congregation out of more than $400,000 and using that money for gambling trips to Louisiana.

Charles Gilford, 58, and Adriane Gilford, 53, were indicted Wednesday by a Harris County grand jury and charged with aggregate theft and “misapplication of fiduciary property.”

Prosecutors allege the Gilfords used at least $430,000 in church funds to gamble at the Coushatta Casino near Lake Charles between 2004 and 2007. They were pastor and first lady of Bethel Institutional Missionary Baptist Church (BIMBC) on Selinsky Road in southeast Houston at the time.

“Over that three-year period of time as fiduciaries there, they were able to take that total of $430,000 from that little Baptist church,” said Amy McCauley with the white collar crimes section of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

At that little Baptist church, a fixture in this neighborhood for decades, the current leadership told us they didn’t want to comment on the case. The Gilford’s left BIMBC five years ago.

Not only did this pastor and his wife allegedly steal money from the church, but they are believed to have gambled it away too? Looks like one idiot move leads to another.

Of course, as we’ve seen in several high profile scandals in churches across the country, even when faced with damning evidence, congregants cannot wipe the smoke out of their eyes and see when they’ve been had. Unfortunately, some members of this church are no different. The article goes on to say:

Close friends say they have trouble believing the couple would steal from their congregation.

“And when I tell you impeccable people, outstanding people willing to help, I just, this is a little bit too much for me,” said friend Regina Davis when she learned about the arrests.

“It doesn’t make sense,” added her son Freddie Davis. “As far as I know, they are really genuine people, both pastor Gilford and sister Gilford. They have been courteous and amazing over the years.”

But after poring over boxes and boxes of financial records, prosecutors convinced a grand jury to indict the pair on charges that carry anywhere from 5 years to life in prison.

Ummmm of course they were “courteous and amazing” — the members were funding their gambling addiction. I know that no one wants to believe the worst about leaders in their church, but unfortunately you can’t put this kind of behavior past anyone. You also can’t be too shocked when it happens. You like to think people are honest, but when you do the math, even small churches bring in a ton of money and most don’t have any financial oversight. In addition, too many of these pastors have people around them willing to turn a blind eye to their egregious actions. Granted, it definitely takes a special kind of boldness to steal money from a church, especially if you’re the pastor or his wife. Unsurprisingly, Adriane’s thievery was not confined to the church building. The story also said she was  arrested in 2010 on a felony charge of writing bad checks in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.

This couple is out of control. Fortunately, congregants who tithe out of obedience to the Bible know that they will be blessed regardless of any “misappropriation of funds”, but it does make you think twice before dropping your hard-earned money in the offering plate.

Alissa Henry is a freelance writer (and church girl) living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink

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  • Ha. That’s what they get! Stealing n got caught…

  • bkabbagej

    In situations like this and the others that were stated; people fail to realize that church people are the same people in and out of church. If they are theives, liars, cheats, con men, whoremongers, loud, disrespectful, ignorant and unchrist like then just because they attend every Sunday service, join every ministry, shout,sing and call the lord name a 1000 times does not make them christians. Even the blble talks about “wolves in sheeps clothing” and “giving our pearls to pigs”. We’re all suppose to be looking for a higher standard of living in a christlike manner. Church does not not change anyone unless you want to be changed by the word and the way you live your life. Jesus lived with and preached to the “low” in life and nobody comes to him perfect but correction is for everyone and and there are no exemptions for what sin is committedm WE ALL FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY!!

  • Tagirl

    And this wasn’t a mega church either. The size of the church doesn’t matter. It’s the character of the person.

  • Tagirl

    They’re going to federal prison. The guidelines that the government has for churches and money are strict. It’s sad that the church as been getting a bad rap lately due to the choices of a few individuals.

  • MLS2698

    And that’s why I donate to the Food Bank, or some other organization that I choose. Tithe where you want to, and not into the hands of people with no real mission statement. I’d rather pay the bill for a person in front of me at the grocery store than tithe to a church. Try it, it works; and it doesn’t have to be a large bill; five, ten bucks.

    • Bucountry

      Do you even know what tithing is? Not…Have a great day!

  • FromUR2UB

    Maybe they should have found someone else from the congregation. Those people said what I would expect “close friends” to say. I doubt very many people who start churches, were called to the pulpit by God. Some were called merely by the promise of easy income and a comfortable living. Black churches ARE the businesses in our neighborhoods, with one on every corner. But, how are they serving their communities? So many churches, yet society is as corrupt as ever, if not moreso. I know of a mega church, with its bronzed roofs that gleam in the sunlight from miles away, located directly across the street from a run down black high school, that has long been in need of some renovation. As members of a community and neighborhood, I wonder why most churches don’t seem to feel an obligation to champion those types of causes. Why aren’t they organizing committees to go out into the neighborhood and literally clean up the streets, and then serve as a liaison between the community and city council to try to attract businesses to their neighborhoods. It helps no one for churches to sit in the middle of ghettos, just to be the best looking, most lavish buildings on the block. At some point, people need to expect that if they’re handing their money over to a church, there should be some economic return for that. It’s not good enough that only the pastor and his family are looking good, eating well, living comfortably and traveling in style. How many blacks were able to turn to their churches for financial help, when they lost jobs, homes went into foreclosure, or became ill an needed help with medical expenses? I bet all they got was, “Let’s lift sister Her / brother Him up in prayer this morning…”.

  • GM_I

    Church pastors are continuing to get put on blast…u got these two gambling addicted crooks, Creflo beating kids, Eddie Long having sex with minors, there was that pastor who had a 10yr affair with a woman (who recently plead guilty for plotting with the pastor) and killed her husband, then was planning on killing his own wife as well smh…blk folks need to wake up but I know they wont, becuz blk folks love to sleep & ignorance is bliss to many of our ppl…the church is nothin more than a modern day plantation, & these morons are slaves to the word they think came from a higher being named god.

    • Babywipes1980

      Are you black?

    • Na Na

      The christian religion is really is definitely a scam, not discrediting the people who believe in it for they have sincerely been duped, unfortunately America was founded on this sort of trickery and embezzlement of money.

  • gracie

    Its called the church business, I haven’t seen any Muslim imam or buthist monk living extravagantly but I have seen plenty of Christian leaders living the lives of kings and queens. Main reason for my decision to donate money to people in need rather than give offering in church. You can never tell who to trust:-(

  • L-Boogie

    Unfortunately, these pastors do not see their actions are what Christians are being judged on. It is in our nature to judge by the bad than the good.

  • Gimmeabreak78

    Crookedness in the black church strikes again–surprise, surprise! I’m so over these “church folks”! I’m not saying that all black churches are filled with charlattans, but there are certainly too many. What surprises me is that with all these scandals popping up around black churches of late, why hasn’t the black church come together across denominational lines to address the dishonesty, lechery, and thievery in their leadership? It’s not enough to point our fingers at the guilty pastors and ministers. Those pastors that are truly doing God’s work need to educate their flock on what what to look out for, and how to hold their men of God accountable, so that the flock is not decieved by a charlattan and so the man of God isn’t tempted to deceive his flock. The current model in the black church is that the pastor is a God substitute, and that is what is killing us, because when something does look amiss in a church, no one feels like they have the power to speak up and question the pastor.

  • *sigh* Satan doing too much lately

    • GM_I

      It wasn’t satan, it was Mr. & Mrs Gilford…satan is nothin but an imaginary scapegoat for religious hypocrites.