EAST POINT, Ga. - A youth pastor who worked as an office manager at an East Point apartment complex is accused of stealing $20,000 in payments made by tenants toward rent.
"They would come in and give him blank money orders or cash to pay for their rent, and he was taking them and pocketing them. On the money orders, he would put his name on them, instead of the name of the apartment complex," said Detective Ebony Johnson, of the East Point Police Department.
Johnson said management of the Greenwood at MarketPpace Apartments caught wind of the scheme after William Townsend left his job and called police.
"To take $20,000 from people who are paying their rent and need somewhere to stay, I think that's pretty bold. A lot of tenants weren't even aware that the money wasn't being placed on their accounts until they found out they were near eviction," said Johnson.
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Townsend, 28, was invited to preach on Youth Day at the Jackson Memorial Baptist Church on Fairburn Road in Atlanta. The church posted his inspirational sermon on its Facebook page.
"He was a very good preacher. He preached and he's been here a couple of times since as a visiting minister," said church administrator Lindsey Jordan Sr.
The administrator told Channel 2's Tom Regan that he and other church members were saddened to hear of the youth pastor's arrest.
"It's a very unfortunate situation, very sad. He can't hold a job as a minister anywhere 'cause this record is going to follow him," said Jordan.
Townsend remains in the Fulton County Jail.
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