Pastor charged with stealing money for needy kids, bought himself $142,000 Bentley

Reverend Clarence Smith Jr. was found guilty of financial malfeasance. Smith worked at the New Life Impact Church, a storefront church on Chicago's West Side. This is not his first time doing such a crime, the reverend pleaded guilty in DuPage County after forging signatures to steal an elder man's estate for more than $100,000, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

This time, he is indicted on charges for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a federal program. This federal program is aimed towards feeding poor children. Instead of doing that, he spent the money on a Bentley that costs $142,000 and leading a luxurious lifestyle.

Court records show that in 2012, Smith actually filed for bankruptcy, stating hat he only had $20 on hand and owed more than $80,000 in restitution from his conviction.

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He was also sued by two food supply companies for defaulting on contracts, currently owes more than $8,000 overdue property taxes for the one-story brick church located at 3500 block of West Cermak Road. 

Smith is still allowed to serve, promoting the church on Facebook where he posts videos of him preaching in order to urge followers to come and worship. On Monday, he did address his pending case stating “One of the worst things in the world is not to learn from your prior mistakes. GOD has me doing a self-evaluation on where I messed up prior so I won’t do the same in the future.” He plead not guilty last November for four fraud-related counts in the U.S. District Court. 

Smith remains free on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty in November to four fraud-related counts in U.S. District Court.

The indictment against Smith alleged he defrauded the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program that is administered locally by the Illinois State Board of Education and intended to provide meals for children in impoverished neighborhoods.

New Life sponsors the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program, administered by the Illinois State Board of Education. The program's goal is to provide meals for children in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. The indictment stated that New Life is responsible for feeding the said children at the designated locations in the city and in billing the state for the services.

The charges show that from October 2015, Smith actually inflated the number of meals he was serving and billed the state nearly $2 million. Then he paid out in two installment by July 2016. He deposited the checks into New Life's bank accounts. However, he then withdrew it in cash at ATM's and/or writing checks to pay for personal expenses.

On 21st of the same month, after he received the second check from the state with the amount of $825,000, Smith bought a 2015 Bentley Flying Spur luxury sedan with a $142,000 check. The indictment relays how he had hidden these fraudulent acts by claiming that the records showing how many children he had fed had all been damaged in a flood and deemed it unusable.

By this time, he was over-billing the state for meals. Then, he was sued in the Cook County Circuit Court, a number of food vendors accusing him of stiffing them on bills. Reinhart Foodservice LLC won this case with a $512,000 judgment in 2015. In 2016, Smith lost to C&C Dairy Inc. who accused him of failing to pay for more than $45,000 worth of dairy products and supplies.

In 2011, Smith plead guilty for a felony charge of financial exploitation of the elderly. In June 2001, he made a bogus document that allowed him to access an acquaintance' credit union account. After the man's death, he wrote a series of checks, reaching an amount of 4106,736.

According to court records in DuPage County, Smith pleaded guilty in 2011 to a felony charge of financial exploitation of the elderly. He was given the sentence of six months in jail, two years of probation and ordered to pay full restitution to his victim's estate. He was repeatedly accused of falling behind restitution payments. Paul Darrah, spokesman for DuPage County state's attorney's office, stated that prosecutors are now seeking to revoke Smith's probation for failing to pay off the said restitution.

Smith remains under court supervision, appearing at the county courthouse in Wheaton in order to gain permission for travels, citing that these trips were all for "religious purposes" or "speaking engagements." These trips are mostly in Cleveland, Orlando and Denver. Still, he claims to be a holy servant as he posts about not looking down on those in need, saying "God never looked down on us." One of his posts in 2015 declared "We can no longer impress the community with talk, but IMPACT the community with our walk." This post was in the same year where he started to commit fraudulent actions on the food programs.

Back in November, he posted a selfie, writing "Even After a Crazy 72 hours, I'm gonna enjoy this game and my life", hours after being released after he surrendered to the authorities for the fraud charges

Smith remains unavailable for interviews, and so is his lawyer, Timothy Roellig who he referred questions to. Roellig has not answered to multiple messages. 

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