Pastor charged with tax fraud; theft

NORTH EAST, Md. - A sign outside the North East Faith Tabernacle Church promises Jesus is coming soon, but for its pastor, the law got there first.

The Cecil County State's Attorney filed criminal charges against Pastor Woodrow Fannin of tax fraud and theft between $10,000 and $100,000 from the federal government.

It was a joint investigation that came out of an audit which attracted the attention of the Maryland State Police and the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General.

Details of the tax fraud will be scarce until Fannin is arraigned later this month.

Fannin was served his papers on Friday after a nearly yearlong investigation, but that didn't necessarily come as a surprise to many members of the small church.

[As a trustee you were looking at these books and it just didn't look right to you?]  "No it didn't look right to me."

Former church trustee Vaughn Smith says he couldn't make sense of the money trail and when he started to ask questions, Pastor Fannin threw him and several other members out of the church.

It has resulted in a separate civil suit to bring an injunction and a restraining order aimed at seizing the church's financial record.

Some members believe Fannin has been stealing from the church for four years now and want it and its finances turned back over to the members.

"Things were just wrong and we knew it so the trustees went and got us an attorney and this is what it comes down to," said Smith.

We could not reach Pastor Fannin for comment at his North East home this afternoon, his church kicked us off the property and calls to his attorney today were also not returned; but as former members of his church put it,  it is not our microphone Fannin needs to answer to.

"He can be judged here on earth, prosecuted and whatever but he still has to stand before God come judgment day, and that's when he will really pay the price," said Smith.

Fannin is due in court later this month to be arraigned on his criminal charges of theft and tax evasion. 

 If convicted, the pastor could face up to 25 years in prison.

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