LITHONIA, Ga. — A former Atlanta police officer who spent 30 years on the force fighting fraud is now battling the crime in a whole new way.
Retired Atlanta Police Sgt. Stanford Pearson says that a con artist used the name of his business to defraud a DeKalb County church out of tens of thousands of dollars in 2018.
Pearson told Channel 2′s Michael Seiden that accused fraudster struck a million dollar deal to build a new building at a local church.
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Court documents show that work never happened. An investigation found that the same fraudster was pulling permits under the name of another company.
Now, the alleged fraudster is dead and Pearson could be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars for a contract he never agreed to.
“I’m just floored by it,” Pearson told Seiden.
After 30 years on the police force, Pearson turned his badge for a tool belt and built Sunrise Construction Company into a successful business.
That business is now taking a back seat after he was named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit.
“I got served with a lawsuit for a construction project that I was allegedly building, a $1.2 million commercial church in Lithonia, Georgia,” he explained.
Confused by the claims, Pearson launched his own investigation.
“I knew I had never been on the property. I knew I had never heard of the church or any of the people involved in the lawsuit,” he said.
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That’s when Pearson learned that a man who went to his church, Juan Crosby, had entered into a contract with another church to build their building without Pearson’s knowledge.
According to police reports, Crosby entered a contract with First St. Paul AME Church to construct their building. He also applied for two permits under the name of Pearson’s company without his permission.
“This gentleman went there with no credentials of mine or identification , no ID, no construction company credentials and was able to obtain a demolition permit in my company’s name,” Pearson said. “It’s clearly fraud, and I never thought it would reach this level.”
A judge has ordered Pearson and a group of sub-contractors to pay the church more than $25,000 in damages.
Pearson says he tried contacting Crosby, but found that he passed away in 2020.
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Lawyers for the church declined Seiden’s request for a comment.
Pearson and his lawyers are appealing the judge’s decision and hoping to have the lawsuit dismissed as soon as possible.
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