As Otis Ray Hope found out, they're discovered, found guilty and sent to the hoosegow.
It looks like Otis went from a Ray of Hope to a Dope.A former Hagerstown pastor was sentenced to more than three years for tax evasion and bank fraud conspiracy.
A federal judge also ordered 53-year-old Otis Ray Hope, who once served as pastor of the 2,000-member Montrose Baptist in Rockville, to pay restitution of more than $2.4 million.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said Hope created false financial statements to defraud a bank into approving a $1.75 million loan, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars of tuition for himself and cheated on his taxes.
"This sentence holds him accountable for a pattern of fraud and deceit," Rosenstein said.
According to his plea agreement, Hope was hired in 1996 as the senior pastor for Montrose Baptist, the second-largest Baptist church in Maryland. He supervised the Montrose Christian School and a program that taught English to foreign students. In 2001, Hope took over the program and had the students wire the money to an account that he controlled. From 2001 to 2003, students paid more than $1.35 million into Hope-controlled accounts.
Hope kept nearly all the money for himself and members of his family, spending it on golf outings, a family vacation to Hawaii, plane tickets, cars and home improvements, prosecutors said. When Montrose Baptist church leaders learned of his scheme in 2002, Hope resigned.
Hope and his brother, Richard, 51, of Denham, La., began operating the Shiloh Conference and Retreat Center, a former YMCA gym in Hagerstown. In 2006, the brothers took out a $1.75 million commercial loan on behalf of the Shiloh Co. The loan was used to refinance the mortgage and to release $108,835 being held in escrow by the previous lender for renovations after a fire in June 2006.
Hope admitted in court that he "falsely represented" to the lending institution that the Shiloh Conference and Retreat Center had reopened for business after the fire.
It's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the IRS. It shorely is.