Detroit Pastor falls from grace, gets prison for fraud

Freep.com January 2017 – In a fall-from-grace story that landed a onetime aspiring Detroit preacher behind bars for 3½ years, the federal government wrapped up a two-year-old fraud case this month involving four men who ran a $555,000 credit card fraud ring through a church and wreaked havoc on the lives of more than 100 people whose accounts were compromised.

“Mr. Baker was struggling to save his church,” federal defender Penny Beardslee, who represented Baker, wrote in a November court filing. “He was desperate for money. And then, he used poor judgment in taking an offer to make quick, easy money.”

According to prosecutors, Baker swiped at least $69,000 in fraudulent transactions through the credit card device at his church and split the proceeds with his associates. He also used fraudulently obtained credit cards at Target and Greektown Casino-Hotel, where he once tried to get money at a cash advance terminal using a fraudulent card but was denied. Amid all this, he also spent two stints in jail last year: once for 93 days for driving without a license; another time for 30 days for driving on a suspended license.

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