False pretense plea forces man to pay upPublished 4:32am Thursday, May 16, 2013
A man charged with defrauding a local church $5,600 has been ordered to repay the money by next week or risk being sent to jail.
On Monday, Beaufort County Superior Court Judge Russell Duke Jr. handed down a 10- to 12-month suspended sentence to Marlo Germaine Hines — a sentence with a catch: Hines had to pay St. John’s Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ (also known as “Big Swamp”) the total amount he took from the church by Tuesday at 2 p.m.
On Tuesday, Hines showed up $4,400 short and spent the night in the Beaufort County Detention Center as a result. Wednesday, Duke gave him a second chance to get the cash.
Hines pleaded guilty to obtaining property by false pretenses for a 2009 incident involving a $5,000 bogus contract. Hines met with church officials to set up a performance by Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC’s, a popular gospel group out of Tupelo, Miss. According to Assistant District Attorney Matthew Rice, Pastor Russell Wilkins believed Hines to be the group’s booking agent and signed a contract for a July concert.
Later, Hines called asking for more money, saying he had been in jail because of child support issues, Rice said. A Hines representative then showed up asking for money for promotional materials, which were never received. According to Rice, Wilkins became suspicious and contacted Dexter Witherspoon, the official booking manager for the Spiritual QC’s, only to find no concert had been scheduled. Further investigation revealed the check from St. John’s Big Swamp had been cashed directly by Hines, Rice said.
The concert did not take place and the money was never returned.
Hines’s attorney, Don Stroud, said his client never returned the money because church officials had told him to deal with the lawyers. Wednesday, Stroud requested that Hines be allowed to pay restitution over his probationary period, but Duke declined. Duke pointed out that Hines came up with $1,200 in two days then asked whether a deadline of next week to produce the remainder was fair.
“He made more in two days than I did, so I don’t know,” Stroud said.
“He took the church’s money. That’s not good,” Duke replied. “I’ll give him until Wednesday, the 22nd, at 5 p.m.”
Obtaining property by false pretenses, in this case a Class I felony, carries a maximum penalty of 30 months in prison.