|Photo courtesy of Gilchrist County S. O.|
The former pastor for the Cedar Key First Baptist Church was arrested September 19, 2017, on a warrant that stemmed from an investigation which began in late July. The Levy County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division received a request from a concerned citizen asking LCSO to look into unusual charges occurring on the church’s operational expense accounts. Investigators determined former Pastor Todd Anthony Pope (10-17-62) not only utilized funds from these accounts for personal gain, but also opened charge accounts, credit card accounts and gas charge accounts.
Investigators immediately identified a couple of unusual charges on the church’s bank account. Pope, whom had been confronted by the church in late June, resigned. The anonymous citizen did not know the extent of the unauthorized charges until a more thorough examination of bank records was conducted by LCSO investigators. Investigators discovered unauthorized ATM withdrawals and charge cards opened in the church’s name with only Pope as the authorized user.
In total, investigators determined Pope took approximately $76,267.58 dollars through various means over a period of several years. Investigators were able to secure a warrant for Pope’s arrest for scheme to defraud, forgery/uttering forged bank checks and grand theft greater than $20,000 but less than $99,999. Pope was arrested in Gilchrist County for the Levy County warrant. His bond was set at $215,000.00.
This investigation is still on-going and additional charges are expected to be filed at a later date.