Two leaders of the New York City-based Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ admitted Thursday of conspiring to run a multi-million tax evasion scheme where the church ended up paying for vacations, private school tuition, and luxury items for one of the men.
Lincoln Warrington, 48, of Bergen County and Jermaine Grant, 43, each pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to one count of conspiring to defraud the United States, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Authorities allege that Grant and Warrington moved about $2.4 million from the church through Black Icon Entertainment between 2007 and 2015, NJ.com previously reported.
NJ.com, also noted that the company was funded almost entirely with money from the church, which preaches that black people are among the lost tribes of Israel; Grant had also preached that a black Jesus will return to Earth to enslave and kill white people, leading to a hate group designation from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Grant, of Burlington Township, allegedly used the money to pay for “personal expenses,” real estate rent, vacations, high-end luxury items, and private school tuition.
Some of those “personal expenses” included: Trips to Disneyland, an $11,700 Neiman Marcus shopping spreed, and a chauffeured Mercedes for Grant’s kids, according to NJ.com.
The men allegedly omitted millions of dollars in income from the IRS, and failed to pay at least $250,000 in taxes, authorities said.
The conspiracy charge has a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. If the court accepts the plea deal, Warrington and Grant would be sentenced to a maximum of 30 months in prison.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 23.
The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ has nearby houses of worship in Jersey City and New York City.
By Daniel Hubbard, editor