View Full Version : Ground Zero pastor used 9/11 & Hurricane Katrina fund money to pay off his mortgage

09-24-2012, 04:33 PM

A pastor is accused of using cash from a $4.8m fund he started to help victims of 9/11 and hurricane Katrina to pay off his mortgage, credit card bills and his son’s tuition fees, it was revealed on Monday.

As New Yorkers grieved in the aftermath of horrific terrorist attacks on the twin towers, Rev. Carl Keyes was plotting his rise to wealth.

Donors poured $2.5 million into the minister's charities, Urban Life Ministries and Aid for the World, but much of the fund never made it past his pocket, it has been claimed.

Far from helping the needy, Keyes' alleged new-found fortune went on treating himself and his family, and pouring money into his crumbling church.

He is accused of taking credit for the work of others at ground zero, embellishing his involvement and fabricating phoney demonstrations of his efforts as a good Samaritan.

Keyes' pot of wealth seemed ever increasing with generous donors contributing to what they believed to be a genuine cause, with more opportunities to raise relief money coming four years later.

At least another $2.3 million was collected for efforts along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, in the poorest corners of West Virginia and Tennessee, and even in remote African villages.

And tens of millions more flowed through his fingers from the sale of church properties.

Research into Keyes' finances began last year with an Associated Press investigation concerning a range of charities.

Since then stacks of documentation including financial records, internal correspondence and interviews with former employees have been thoroughly scoured.

According to those who worked on the investigation they reveal a darker side to Keyes' portrayed role as an international humanitarian, blurring the lines between his charities, his ministry and his personal finances

Keyes diverted large sums donated for 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina into his cash-starved church, then used charity and church money to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal credit card bills and other debts, documents show.

He failed for years to file required federal and state reports showing how much money his charities received and spent.

He used large church donations from a wealthy supporter to pay his sons' private college tuition.

The minister used a big donation meant for one of his charities to clear a mortgage on his family's house, according to an accountant who told Keyes he was quitting, in part because of the transaction.

And, when his congregation sold its 19th-century church in midtown Manhattan for $31 million, he and his friends benefited.

For example, $950,000 of the proceeds was used to buy his family a country home near the Delaware River in New Jersey. Another $1 million went to support one of his charities, which spent more on failed, lavish fundraisers than on promised programs in Africa.

After paying large debts and buying a building to convert into a new church, the congregation had $13.8 million in cash, according to a February 2008 financial document obtained by the AP.

Three years later, it told a court it had to sell that building because only $180,486 remained in its bank account.

The AP first wrote about Keyes and his charities last year, and as the AP expanded its investigation into the minister's operation, the New York attorney general's office opened its own probe. The church, Glad Tidings Tabernacle, has agreed to cooperate with the state investigation.

In a recent legal filing, the attorney general's office said it was investigating how the church had used its assets, amid concerns about its 'ability (to) properly ... oversee its financial affairs.'

But Keyes and his lawyer say all payments by his church and charities were proper.

'Sorry that you don't have a real "story" here, but the truth is actually quite boring since no one did anything wrong,' his lawyer, Jennifer Polovetsky, said in an email to the AP on August 22.

'It must be underscored that Carl Keyes is an internationally recognized humanitarian who has spent the past 30 years helping others in crisis,' she wrote in an earlier letter.

'He has worked with many presidents and prime ministers around the world to help ease the suffering of their people.'

There is no question that Keyes has thrown himself into relief work.

Yet in promoting himself as a globe-trotting Samaritan, Keyes embellished his exploits and took credit for others' labor, according to several people who worked on relief efforts in lower Manhattan.

After 9/11, his charity provided food, water and counseling for recovery workers. But a priest disputed Keyes' colorful stories about breaking into locked churches for shelter near ground zero.

And in response to AP's questions about a claim that his ground zero soup kitchen had attracted celebrity volunteers like Jerry Seinfeld and actress Susan Sarandon, Keyes acknowledged that they never worked with him.

When Hurricane Katrina struck four years later, Keyes did drive to Mississippi to set up a massive volunteer operation and to help distribute supplies.

But Keyes has yet to account for how his organization raised and spent money on the Gulf Coast — more than $800,000 by one estimate.

For a decade, Keyes operated his Urban Life Ministries charity without filing the required state and federal reports showing how much money it received and spent, an AP examination of official records found.

The IRS last year stripped the charity of its tax-exempt status because Keyes failed to submit annual financial disclosures to verify that the money had been used for charitable purposes.

Keyes ran Aid for the World, which boasted of operating anti-poverty programs in the U.S. and on several continents, for more than three years without disclosing its finances as required.

That meant there was no accounting of the charity's biggest event, a black-tie fundraiser featuring former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The charity only recently recorded more than a half-million dollars in fundraising expenses for 2009; a significant portion of the money was spent on the Powell event.

Only after the AP contacted Keyes was an accountant hired to review his charities' finances over the past decade and to file all the required tax disclosure forms.

Then came 9/11 — and money would no longer be an issue. In just over a year, more than $2.5 million gushed into Keyes' church and a nonprofit organization he controlled, Urban Life Ministries.

After the terrorist attacks, Keyes applied for tax-exempt status for the charity, listing 'relief programs in times of crises' as one of its purposes.

Urban Life Ministries spent much of its windfall on things like bottled water, food and a counseling center for ground zero workers, according to financial records obtained by the AP.

The charity staged two concerts, including one honoring U.S. troops at the Yankees minor league ballpark on Staten Island. The nonprofit also provided apartments near ground zero for its workers, including Keyes and his family.

Financial records show that Keyes also spent money donated for 9/11 relief on expenses that had nothing to do with the tragedy — a series of monthly payments of $734.99 on the personal loan he owed on the Poconos house; $5,000 for a church organ; and nearly $33,000 for an architect working on church renovations that would include a new living space for his family.

Urban Life Ministries said in recently filed audited financial statements that it also paid as much as $235,600 in 'rent' to the church in late 2001 and 2002.

It also donated $70,000 to the church and lent it at least another $26,953, according to Urban Life Ministries accounting ledgers, obtained by the AP.

Charities generally must use donations for the purpose stated when the money is raised. And charity operators must avoid using money to help themselves or causes that are not related to their mission.

Keyes, through his lawyer, said the rent and other payments were proper.

(and it goes on like this. Just click on the link if you want to read more)

09-25-2012, 05:26 AM
Not surprising....not one bit.

In the past when I used to go to church, there was always one thing which the pastor would REALLY get excited for....

The collection plate!

09-25-2012, 08:40 AM
Not surprising....not one bit.

In the past when I used to go to church, there was always one thing which the pastor would REALLY get excited for....

The collection plate!

Sad but true.

09-25-2012, 12:36 PM
never have i seen a church leader get exited about a collection plate, no wonder people on here keep taking jabs at religion.

09-25-2012, 01:39 PM
The people ask "What is worng with this world?"...You can't even trust the people that "serve" God.

09-25-2012, 01:41 PM
people saying they serve God and people actually serving Him are two different things.

09-25-2012, 04:15 PM
Not surprising....not one bit.

In the past when I used to go to church, there was always one thing which the pastor would REALLY get excited for....

The collection plate!

I swear I thought you would have said little boys there but I guess that is a close second

09-25-2012, 04:53 PM
I swear I thought you would have said little boys there but I guess that is a close second

He said pastor, not priest.

09-25-2012, 05:28 PM
checks and balances... checks and balances.

09-25-2012, 05:53 PM
I swear I thought you would have said little boys there but I guess that is a close second

I guess at least I should be thankful that my parents were Protestant.

09-26-2012, 08:55 AM
He said pastor, not priest.

It's pretty much the same thing. Catholic preists (pastors) are generally associated with molesting little boys and Prostetant preachers are generally know for running around on their wives with other women but there are plenty of stories about gay protestant preachers too.