published on September 18, 2020 - 3:18 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

A former Clovis pastor pleaded guilty to wire fraud, announced the office of the United States Attorney of the Eastern District of California in a press release Friday.

Sherman Smith, 74, of Monterey, formerly the executive pastor of Sonrise Church in Clovis, was indicted on seven counts of wire fraud totaling more than $2 million in August 2019.

Smith induced investors, which included church congregants, to contribute money to the church by claiming he money would be used to finance a real estate development project for the benefit of the church.

Smith appealed for monies from the pulpit, via email and in person to pay off the church’s mortgage and fund an income-generating development. He collected cash, checks, and rolled-over retirement accounts to fund the church’s project, but did not tell investors that he used the money for personal expenses, to operate a publishing business and to invest in foreign ventures.

According to Religion News Blog, Smith was sentenced to 37 months in prison in 2004 after he pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud.

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 11 and faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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