JERSEY CITY (CBS 2) — In Jersey City, there are charges that a church was swindled out of tens of thousands of dollars. As CBS 2’s John Slattery reports, the man arrested had been highly trusted by the church leadership.
The alleged swindler, now in the sights of prosecutors, is 59-year-old Hector Sanchez, an accountant hired by the Fountain of Salvation Christian Church in Jersey City a year ago.
“It’s pretty extraordinary. Obviously, he took advantage of some trusting people, you would assume,” Assistant Prosecutor Tom Carroll said.
Most trusting of all was the pastor who hired him, Reverend Juan Santiago.
“As Christians, we never thought something like this was going to happen,” Rev. Santiago said.
Sanchez was hired to deduct and file the staff’s payroll taxes with both the state and federal Internal Revenue Service.
“He had an obligation to turn over withholding taxes, but instead, bank records show that he spent it on his own expenses,” Carroll said.
Those expenses allegedly included restaurants, retail stores, and casinos. Using cash and a credit card, it totaled some $44,000.
Kelly Simpson is an assistant prosecutor.
“It’s pretty despicable. Bilking a church? Pretty despicable,” Simpson said.
Sanchez, who lives in Bayonne, operated an accounting office in Jersey City that’s now closed.
“We feel so sorry for him, the way he behaved on this matter,” Rev. Santiago said.
Not only does Sanchez face criminal charges, but the church has filed a civil suit, hoping to get the $44,000 returned.
Prosecutors are now looking to see if other groups or individuals who were clients of Sanchez might have been victimized in the same way.