A Dozen Church Leaders Have Been Arrested for a Labor Scheme That Focused the Homeless https://chrisonet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/a-dozen-church-leaders-have-been-arrested-for-a-labor-scheme-that-targeted-the-homeless.jpg

Homeless individuals all through California had been invited into church vans with guarantees of meals, shelter and religious restoration. However then, these guarantees disappeared as they had been pressured to panhandle for as much as 9 hours a day earlier than being locked inside group properties, with no matter cash they’d gathered going to line the pockets of Imperial Valley Ministries’ church management, prosecutors say.

On Tuesday, a dozen Imperial Valley Ministries church leaders had been arrested on expenses of conspiracy, pressured labor, doc servitude and advantages fraud, in keeping with The San Diego Union-Tribune. The church’s former pastor Victor Gonzalez was arrested in Texas together with 4 others, whereas seven extra had been taken in California. U.S. Lawyer Robert Brewer known as it “an appalling abuse of power by church officials.”

Imperial Valley Ministries started within the 1970s and has 30 church buildings across the US. in locations like Los Angeles, San Jose, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Oklahoma Metropolis and Charlotte. It opened its doorways in El Centro in 1992 and Gonzales grew to become pastor in 2013, opening 5 teams properties in El Centro, Calexico and Chula Vista. Those that labored within the group properties marketed themselves as “missionaries to the drug addicts” who supplied “no charge homes for men and women with drug-related problems,” in keeping with an indictment.

However prosecutors say that the homeless individuals who got here to them — or, as was typically the case, had been recruited by them — ended up in a nightmare. Church leaders confiscated their possessions, denied them any contact with pals or members of the family and picked up all their authorities welfare advantages. Church leaders would deadbolt the doorways to their group properties and typically even nail the home windows shut. They had been despatched to panhandle and hand out spiritual literature, typically for 60 hours per week, and weren’t allowed to maintain any of the cash they collected. Each day and weekly quotas had been set to “qualify” for lunch, prosecutors say. Meals and even toothbrushes had been withheld as punishment.

A 17-year-old lady lastly escaped her group dwelling by breaking a window and working to a neighbor’s home for assist. Police say that they had heard rumors of the operation earlier than, nevertheless it was {the teenager}’s testimony that helped them crack the case.

The present pastor of Imperial Valley Ministries has not been charged.